A Guide to Harvest in Winter: How Top Southeast Companies Raised Capital in a Down Market

For the past few years now, the venture world has been drudging through what some have referred to as “the dark ages” of venture capital. It’s no secret that many of the most successful companies were started during a down market, but it is understandably more challenging to raise capital in these times as well. So, how should founders navigate the entrepreneurial journey at a time like this?

In the opening panel of Venture Atlanta 2023, four remarkable founders took the stage to share what they’ve learned throughout their entrepreneurial journeys, the challenges they faced, and the strategies they employed to secure the vital capital needed to grow their companies. The panel was moderated by Maria Derchi of Florida Funders, and it featured the following founders:

  • Tony Summerville – Founder of Fleetio, a modern software platform that simplifies vehicle fleet management.
  • Emily Morris – Founder of Emrgy, a company focused on harnessing the power of water currents to generate clean and affordable electricity.
  • Yuri Frayman – Founder of CAST AI, a cloud optimization platform simplifying cloud operations for businesses.
  • Tyler Scriven – Founder of Saltbox, a logistics pioneer offering adaptable workspaces and fulfillment resources for small businesses.

The conversation was insightful and rich with takeaways for seasoned and aspiring tech founders alike. You can watch the full 30-minute panel here:

Below are some key takeaways from the discussion.

Navigating the Entrepreneurial Journey: Advice from Successful Founders

As startups and investors embark on the entrepreneurial journey, achieving success is about more than just gathering funds. It calls for a solid grasp of investor relations, wise management of early investment offers, and building a supportive network to help steer the company towards its goals.

Evaluate investors as if you are hiring them.

In the quest to build a thriving company with the backing of investors, it’s crucial to ensure that they share your product vision wholeheartedly. “Treat the process of finding investors like you’re hiring a key team member. You want them to be as ready as you are to dive in and make things work,” voiced Frayman. When there’s a shared vision, forming a solid partnership becomes significantly smoother.

Nurture your relationships with investors.

The panel highlighted the significance of viewing investor relationships as more than just financial engagements. “I maintain a clear and open communication with my investors, treating them as allies and advisors. It’s beneficial to see beyond the typical investor-founder scenario and envision a united team aiming for mutual success,” shared Scriven.

Surround yourself with experience.

Being a first-time founder, Morris chose not to have a co-founder but instead, surrounded herself with experienced mentors and individuals who had navigated similar paths. This strategy has proved invaluable as her company, Emrgy, makes strides in the renewable energy domain.

It’s not about the environment, it’s about you.

Investors and funding opportunities are always present, regardless of market downturns or economic uncertainties. As Scriven articulated, “The core challenge in securing capital is to assure the person across the table that you’re bound for success, with or without their investment.” In essence, confidence is the linchpin. Effectively conveying your vision and the value it holds, leaves investors with a simple choice—whether or not they want to join you on this promising entrepreneurial journey.

Embracing the Entrepreneurial Spirit Amidst Market Adversities

The narrative shared by these adept founders echoes a resounding theme: the entrepreneurial journey, albeit filled with hurdles, especially in a down market, holds a treasure trove of opportunities for those prepared to navigate it with tenacity, vision, and a supportive network.

These trailblazing entrepreneurs underline the necessity of aligning with investors who not only share your product vision but are committed to rolling up their sleeves to traverse the turbulent tides alongside you. Furthermore, they spotlight the invaluable asset of surrounding oneself with a rich talent pool of seasoned mentors and a robust support system. This is not merely about buoying the venture amidst market storms, but about steering the enterprise towards uncharted territories where innovation and success reside.

Keep Up with Venture Atlanta

You can check out more thought-provoking conversations from industry leaders by visiting our YouTube channel or reading our blog. If you want to read more about everything that went down at Venture Atlanta 2023, you can check out the full recap here.

Venture Atlanta continues to be a hub of inspiration, fostering conversations that propel the tech entrepreneurial spirit forward. We eagerly anticipate the gems of wisdom Venture Atlanta 2024 will unveil.


What is the entrepreneurial journey?

The entrepreneurial journey refers to the process and experiences of starting and growing a business. It encompasses ideation, product vision development, building a talent pool, fundraising, equity management, and scaling the business.

How important is the product vision in the entrepreneurial journey?

A clear product vision is crucial as it sets the direction for the startup. It helps in aligning the team, attracting the right investors, and guiding decision-making throughout the journey.

How can startups build a solid talent pool?

Building a solid talent pool involves identifying the skills required for your startup, hiring individuals who align with your company culture, and investing in the development and retention of your team.

What is equity management and why is it important?

Equity management involves the distribution and management of ownership shares in a startup. It is crucial for ensuring fair ownership, attracting and retaining talent, and navigating investor relations effectively.

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