Charleston-area business helping entrepreneurs start companies amid pandemic

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – The economic uncertainty brought on by the pandemic led many would-be entrepreneurs to face the risks of starting a business and decide to make a go of it.

One Charleston-area business has been helping people across the country bring those ideas to fruition.

Jake Hare, who founded startup incubator Launchpeer six years ago, assumed the pandemic would force them to take a hit like most other businesses. Instead, he said business has actually grown as people who put off their entrepreneurial ideas because of the risk decided now was the time to make them happen.

“A lot of people were saying that ‘My career right now is okay, but I’m starting to realize because of the pandemic that there isn’t any more safety in working for an employer when the employer can shut down any day,’ and we saw that happening a lot during the pandemic, here in Charleston, all over the country,” he explained.

Hare said he has seen a 25 to 30% increase in the number of startups that have shown interest in working with Launchpeer, a trend that has continued even as more businesses returned to in-person operations this year.

One of those start-ups is sports betting platform Fanalysts based in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas.

“We built our company really around Zoom and the different cloud-based productivity apps, so we were kind of geared towards this, and then in our case I think the pandemic has accelerated sports betting,” CEO and co-founder Spencer Kronthal said.

While the businesses may start small, the money involved is anything but.

A report from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers earlier this year found in the first quarter of this 2021, venture-capital-backed startups raised more than $64 billion, nearly half of what they did in all of 2020.

In the short term, Hare sees the startup trend continuing, helped along by the number of people working remotely.

“I think just people in general have this sense of liking to feel safe, and so I’m not sure how long this is going to continue where peoples’ minds are changed because of COVID,” he said.

The pandemic also presented its share of challenges, Hare said, especially the lack of in-person networking events in Charleston’s entrepreneurial community, but he said most of the startups he works with are able to go fully remote, which other businesses don’t have the luxury of doing.

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