Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Columbia, SC

Columbia, SC

Columbia, SC ranks number two of the TOP 10 Cities with the Lowest Startup Costs.
(source- smartasset.com, September, 2015)

Columbia is the state capital and largest city in the state of South Carolina. Columbia, also known as Cola Town, is also the home of the University of South Carolina, which was formed in 1801. It is located at the junction of the Saluda and Broad Rivers, which merge at Columbia becoming the Congaree River. It is the home of Fort Jackson, the country’s largest Army base providing basic combat training. According to a September, 2015 study by smartasset.com, Columbia, SC ranks number two on their listing of the TOP 10 Cities with the Lowest Startup Costs. Only Chattanooga, TN ranks higher.

Based on this ranking, Funding$age has reviewed the resources that make up Columbia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

  • 1 Million Cups – Columbia, SC
    A national program with a local reach designed to educate, engage and connect entrepreneurs.
  • Startup Grind Columbia, SC
     According to Startup Grind they are “an event series and website designed to help educate, inspire, and connect local entrepreneurs.”
  • engenuitySC
    “focused on building partnerships around five indicators of competitive communities; innovative capacity, talent, entrepreneurial / business environment, livability and strong industry clusters.”

Startup Competitions:

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Co-working Space:

  • SOCO
    They are building a platform which provides compelling spaces, where incredible people can work together, and incredible events and activities can help people connect to hone their skills, grow their crafts and build things the world needs.
  • Richland Library
    Offers a free, fully equipped, self-service workspace with a library’s resources at the fingertips in downtown Columbia.

Maker Space:

  • Cola Maker Space
    A new maker Space under development in Columbia. They think it sounds fantastic so they’re making it happen!

Incubators /  Accelerators:

  • SC Launch’s SCRA USC Innovation Center
    “A newly renovated facility designed to accommodate business offices and clean next-generation manufacturing operations.”
  • USC Columbia Technology Incubator
    Provides space, education, mentors, and meaningful networking to new and growing area companies.

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Colleges / Universities:

  • Benedict College Incubator Program
    A general purpose incubator which provides minority entrepreneurs assistance and nurturing through the critical stages of business development, from growth to expansion.
  • Faber Entrepreneurship Center
    At the Darla Moore School of Business at USC “is helping to develop USC’s entrepreneurship program as we encourage and prepare our students to take their entrepreneurial skills into the new global economy.”
  • McNair Center for Entrepreneurialism
    Columbia College has as a mission to “create and sustain an entrepreneurial ecosystem within the College that provides education, apprenticeships, mentoring, capital access and professional skills development to students.”

Angel Groups / VCs:

  • Capital Angels
    The South Carolina Angel Network affiliate in the Midlands area.
  • South Carolina Angel Network
    An affiliation of various angel groups from South Carolina and Western North Carolina who work together to support early stage companies from around the region.
  • Southland Capital Partners
    Their goal is to “acquire and transform companies in SC and beyond with proven products or services and significant growth potential.” They are a merchant banking firm with a focus on traditional private equity, later stage startups and advisory services.

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

  • InnoVenture
    Promotes the progress of regional entrepreneurial companies though their weekly “SwampFox” newsletter.
  • SC Technology Alliance
    Provides among other things, articles and a technology news segment to the region.


  • IT-ology
    Believes “in helping you discover your role in information technology and equipping you with the knowledge and tools to achieve your ideal career.”
  • SC Technology Alliance’s
    Their mission is to make SC prosper in the 21st century “as a recognized leader in attracting, creating, growing and retaining world-class technology intensive companies while preserving our excellent quality of life, strong work ethic and exceptional business environment.”

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Columbia not included in the article above? If so, let us know via a comment below and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the southeast, USA?

Augusta, GeorgiaKnoxville, TennesseeMemphis, Tennessee



Alexa Cleek