The Game Changer

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Carrie Roth
Carrie Roth, President & CEO

Activation Capital

Our goal is for the region to become known as a hub for all things innovative and as an environment where entrepreneurs and innovative companies thrive.”

Being an endurance athlete, and having run 12 marathons and nearly 40 half marathons, Carrie Roth’s grit, determination and competitive nature spills over into her work life. Carrie has been inducing a can-do attitude with a give first philosophy to every aspect of the job. With a keen sense of integrity and honesty, she provides a positive perspective to help remove obstacles along every step of the entrepreneurial journey – from start to phenomenal. She is driven by mission and purpose in support of the new economy and improving the outcomes of humanity.

Carrie Roth, President & CEO, Activation Capital is a pioneering leader having years of experience in technological innovations. She has been hailed a champion of the Richmond region and the Commonwealth of Virginia and is always looking for ways to help the community shine. Her constant dedication to improving the region and the Commonwealth, along with her competitive nature, create a force to be reckoned with. She is able to see the bigger picture and always has a plan, when others may get stuck in the weeds. These qualities have allowed for the VA Bio + Tech Park to change from being a place to an agent of change for the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Today, Activation Capital is the anchor for the region and has allowed for RVA to make a name as the place for founders to start and grow their companies.

Building an Innovative Ecosystem

According to Carrie, the challenges and opportunities facing entrepreneurs vary depending on the phase of the journey. Sometimes it’s as simple as knowing where to start and being prepared to have conversations with individuals who can make the right connection to remove early obstacles or to help you fail fast. Sometimes it’s the perception that you have to be in the top-tier cities to have a chance. “We believe a good idea can come from anywhere. New companies can change the course of industries, and new products can change lives,” says the steadfast leader.

“Activation Capital has taken a deep dive into identifying the gaps in our ecosystem and put our resources behind meaningful programs and people to effect the change necessary to accelerate the growth of the resources needed to allow our companies to compete and succeed – including creating a $5 million ecosystem direct investment fund to support activity aligned with the identified gaps and strategies.”

When Activation Capital put the founder first, they all had a common purpose to invest in the entrepreneurial community and accelerate the opportunity for growth. “In our region, we see an increased failure rate of businesses in years 1-2 (not unexpectedly) and 7-10. The perceived lack of support to really scale is an area where we are putting the significant focus,” explains Carrie. In addition to investing in programs, Activation Capital has established a pre-seed/seed-stage fund to support health and other advanced technologies, bridge the gap of some of the riskiest and toughest funding to come by and to get them to a Series A round of funding. “Additionally, we are building a 100,000 square foot, authentic, state of the art life sciences and advanced-technologies facility to help with second-stage growth,” she adds. “By de-risking capital intensive space and equipment, we hope to help our growing companies scale in a smart way.”

Activation Capital engages and connects the many influential players in the Richmond region’s innovation ecosystem and across Virginia, and strives to give start-up founders access to the tools and resources they need to navigate the entrepreneurial process. The Activation Council supports and coordinates these efforts among the many available resources to foster innovation in companies of all kinds. Activation Council brings clarity and perspective in the short term and vision for the long term that generates more collision points that lead to successful business outcomes. “Our goal is for the region to become known as a hub for all things innovative and as an environment where entrepreneurs and innovative companies thrive,” says Carrie. “We want the Activation Capital to be known as the place where any person with an idea can find the resources needed to take an idea from start to phenomenal.”

The Anchor of the Community

In an instance, one of Activation Capital’s companies needed a piece of equipment to support the research and development of their product but was not quite ready in their fundraising to be able to purchase the equipment. Activation Capital was able to buy the piece of equipment and lease it to them. They have since graduated from the VA Bio+Tech Park and have raised many millions of dollars. “Through our Ecosystem Direct Investment Fund, we provide grants to support organizations like the nationally-recognized Lighthouse Labs accelerator,” says Carrie. With this support, Lighthouse has expanded its program from one cohort to year-round, significantly increasing the number of companies with grants and programming necessary to scale their businesses.

Activation Capital has culminated into an anchor for the knowledge-based innovation and entrepreneurial community, providing the leadership and vision for the Richmond regional ecosystem with a willingness to invent, take and manage risks, and share credit for success. Activation Capital has created a platform for the region’s ecosystem while providing founders with a resource to help them navigate over the course of their business journey. “Our sentiment that a rising tide lifts all ships is key to our success, as we strongly believe that Virginia has all of the resources needed,” says Carrie. “We believe competition is healthy – and co-opetition even healthier. By putting resources behind our mission, we have been able to demonstrate the leadership necessary to help advance our economy.”