Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Greenville, SC


Greenville is becoming one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. Find out how this is happening by exploring the accelerators, investors, incubators, and more that make up its entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Greenville, SC is the state’s sixth-largest city and the center of its third-largest urban area. According to the US Census Bureau, Greenville was the fourth-fastest growing city in the country between 2015 and 2016. WalletHub ranked the city 43rd on its 2018 list of the best small cities to start a business, and the metropolitan area as a whole ranked 56th on WalletHub’s list of the best metro areas for STEM professionals.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Greenville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

GVL Connect holds regular networking events around the Upstate South Carolina region to help small business and entrepreneurs in the area connect.

Morning Breakfast Blends holds monthly networking events and workshops that help support local business owners and entrepreneurs.

Greenville is home to one of S.E.V.E.N. Networking’s many nationwide branches, which host regular networking events to support business and entrepreneurship.

The Upstate Veteran Business Network is an organization dedicated to supporting veterans and their businesses in Greenville and the surrounding area.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

1 Million Cups’ Greenville location hosts monthly events in which entrepreneurs can meet one another and present their ideas to the group.

In addition to a variety of other events, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual awards ceremony celebrating successful small businesses and entrepreneurs in the area.

The Makers Collective in Greenville hosts the annual Makers Summit, an annual two-day conference, and workshop for creative entrepreneurs and small business owners.


Startup Competitions:

Spartanburg is one of several cities in the Upstate area that hosts a Main Street Challenge, in which businesses compete for discounted rent and in-kind services.

Down the road from Greenville, Clemson University hosts the annual Pitch Smackdown, a startup competition for the university’s graduate and undergraduate students.

Wofford College hosts an annual startup competition in which students can compete for funding and access to resources to grow their businesses.


Co-working Spaces:

Atlas Local offers three separate membership levels and access to a variety of amenities depending on the level.

With over 20,000 square feet, Endeavor offers co-working space and a number of amenities, resources, and other forms of support to its members.

OpenWorks provides shared desks and meeting space at affordable prices to members of the Greenville community.

Members at Society Hall can lease up to 3,000 square feet of office space, restaurant, bar, or coffee shop.

Textile Hall’s aim is to create a workspace where its members work together and inspire one another to do better.


Maker spaces:

Students, faculty, and staff at Clemson University can access the Clemson Makerspace, which provides a variety of tools and equipment, for free.

Located in nearby Spartanburg, Project Hub provides a space and the necessary equipment to help its members create what they want.

Synergy Mill is a 2,500 square foot maker space that offers a wide variety of tools and equipment for use.

“We are building an early stage startup, emerging growth company, and entrepreneur community space. We provide dedicated offices, small team spaces, and event space to the community.” – from website.



Organized by and hosted at the University of South Carolina Upstate, the Greenhouse Business Incubator supports Spartanburg-area businesses.

The NEXT Innovation Center is a program organized by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce that supports over 100 businesses in the Upstate South Carolina area.

Organized through a partnership with Clemson University but headquartered in Greenville, the South Carolina SBDC supports small business around the state.

Hosted by Spartanburg Community College, Spark Center SC provides area businesses with support and access to valuable resources.

Less of a traditional incubation program, the Upstate SC Alliance is dedicated to supporting growing businesses in the Greenville and Upstate South Carolina areas.

Incubators vs. Accelerators: Which will best fit your needs?



Students, faculty, and staff at Clemson University can join the Clemson Venture Accelerator to receive support in their business ventures.

The Founder Institute, one of the largest and most well-known startup accelerator programs in the world, has a branch located in Greenville.

Organized by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, the Minority Business Accelerator works to support minority-led businesses in Upstate South Carolina.



Clemson University’s Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership offers a number of resources both inside and outside the classroom to graduate and undergraduate students.

Furman’s Business Administration major offers students the ability to take classes in entrepreneurship.

In addition to the Spark Center SC business incubator, Spartanburg Community College offers a certificate program in entrepreneurship.

The University of South Carolina Upstate’s College of Business and Economics offers a minor in business and entrepreneurship and hosts a business incubator.

The Space at Wofford College offers students and members of the Wofford community a number of resources and forms of support to help them find success in business.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Azalea Capital aims to invest in lower-middle market companies in the business services and manufacturing industries, especially those located in the Southeast United States.

Thornblade Capital is a private investment and advisory firm focused on lower-middle market companies primarily in the business services, telecom, and fintech industries.

The Tiger Angel Network is an angel group made up of members of the Clemson community that aim to support that community by investing in early-stage businesses and startups.

VentureSouth is a collection of angel investment groups around the Southeast, including the Upstate Carolina Angel Network, Spartanburg Angels, and Electric City Angels.

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Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

Greenville CEO offers the Greenville CEO Briefing, a daily email newsletter covering the major business news in the area.

The GSA Business Report offers a number of newsletters covering business news in a number of regions around South Carolina, including the Upstate area.

Upstate Business Journal, which covers business news in Greenville and the surrounding area, offers newsletters to keep subscribers up-to-date.


Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the  USA?

Augusta, GeorgiaChattanooga, TennesseeGreensboro, North Carolina

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

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.