VentureSouth names Ouzts new director of Spartanburg Angels

Logo courtesy of VentureSouth.

Spartanburg has a new archangel.

VentureSouth, one of the nation’s largest early-stage investment firms, has announced it has appointed Erin Ouzts as director of its affiliate Spartanburg Angels.

Founded in February 2015, Spartanburg Angels is an angel investment group that seeks to provide funding for early-stage companies in Spartanburg and the surrounding region.

Ouzts. Courtesy of Les Duggins.

“I’m thrilled to continue to grow Spartanburg Angels,” Ouzts said in a statement. “With the support of the OneSpartanburg plan and our local investors, Spartanburg Angels will continue to impact our community as a key piece of the ecosystem of support for entrepreneurs. Many elements must work together to create a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem, and capital for growing companies is a critical piece.”

Ouzts earned a bachelor of science degree in organizational communication from the University of Texas, and her master of business administration degree from Georgia State University.

She has served as an instructor at Georgia State’s Robinson College of Business and at the University of South Carolina Upstate’s George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business and Economics, aka The George.

Ouzts served as board chair of the Hub City Co-op, the state’s first cooperatively owned grocery store located in downtown Spartanburg.

From 2014 to 2016 she was the director of the GreenHouse Business Incubator at The George.

Ouzts serves as a trustee for the Spartanburg Day School, board chair for the Innovative Rural Development Corp., and president of LaunchPad Ventures LLC.

“We’ve enjoyed working with Erin to form and grow Spartanburg Angels over the last two years,” said Paul Clark, a managing director at VentureSouth, in a statement. “And we’re excited about the momentum and enthusiasm she will bring to continuing to grow the group.”

Ouzts is co-chair of the Economic and Entrepreneurial Vitality Task Force for Ten at the Top. The task force launched the Entrepreneur Friendly ToolKit, the Upstate Alternative Capital Providers Network, and a series of workshops for entrepreneur coaches and support professionals.

She is the lead organizer for 1 Million Cups Spartanburg, a program sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that seeks to engage, educate, and connect local entrepreneurs, and build startup communities at the grassroots level.

The Spartanburg program’s first event will be held from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the Hub City Tap House at 197 E. St. John St. in downtown Spartanburg.

Ouzts has been a member of Spartanburg Angels since its inception. She agreed to serve as director to continue growing the network’s membership and increase the number of local companies that present to VentureSouth members, the organization said.

She will also be instrumental in helping to establish an entrepreneurial ecosystem in as part of the community’s new strategic plan, OneSpartanburg, which seeks to elevate Spartanburg’s cultural and economic prosperity.

“Last year’s OneSpartanburg Community Assessment noted that many communities of a similar size to Spartanburg would covet the presence of a locally based angel investment group,” said Betsy Sikma, director of small business and entrepreneurial development for the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Futures Group, in a statement.

“The plan’s final recommendations are to work with Spartanburg Angels to expand funding options for local high-growth firms. We’re pleased to have been able to form the group, and to continue to see it being led by experienced angel investors and entrepreneurs.”

According to the Spartanburg Angels website, the group has about 25 members and has invested in more than 15 companies, including Spartanburg-based Atlas Organics.

The group’s members represent a diverse range of backgrounds, including first-time angel investors, those with more than 20 years of experience in investing in early-stage companies, founders and chief executives, and current and past business leaders in Spartanburg.

Spartanburg Angels meets on the third Thursday of each month. The meetings are by invitation only.

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