In February Blake Patton announced that he was launching Tech Square Ventures, a $10 million fund focused on seed-stage and early stage companies. Blake shared his reasoning behind starting the fund in the Saporta Report earlier this week, “the funding shortage in Georgia is a big opportunity for early-stage venture capital and angel investors. The current level of investment in the state does not match the level of entrepreneurial activity and innovation coming out of our startups and research universities. For local investors, finding deal flow is easier and less competitive here than in other parts of the country.”
As Tech Square Ventures hits the nine month mark we caught up with Blake to check in about the current portfolio, his current investment focus, and ask why he chose (and stuck with) the Tech Square location to set up the fund.
Since the launch of the fund Blake has chosen (from over 300 leads) to invest in UserIQ, Pointivo, and Digital Vision Systems. UserIQ is a in-app data engine and engagement tool, founded by Adam Mangone and Aaron Aycock. The app builds intelligent engagement with app users by tracking and analyzing their behavior in real-time. Pointivo is a technology that allows you to use any camera to capture the dimensions of a structure and model it in 3D with perfect measurements. This startup, led by Dan Ciprari and Dr. Habib Fathi is primed to disrupt the construction industry, but its uses seem endless. Both UserIQ and Pointivo presented this year at the Venture Atlanta conference, “the state’s largest investor showcase.”
Tech Square Ventures’ third investment is in Digital Vision Systems. Optometrist, Keith Thompson, teamed up with Jose Garcia to create a physical device (including hardware & software) that accurately diagnoses eye problems. The device they have created is the industry’s “first vertically-integrated exam-product solution” and was recently voted Most Poised for Success at the Vision Expo West.
Blake is on the lookout to invest in information technology. His sweet spots are: internet, software, and cloud enabled. He is also hot on the idea of connected devices, saying “people are underestimating the power of [the internet of things] especially in sectors like health care.” Right now he mainly surfaces prospects at the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Global Center of Medical Innovation (GCMI), and the Georgia Tech Research Institute, but next year he plans to branch out into other areas of the southeast. Blake also mentioned an interest in doing a bunch of pre-seed and launch deals in the near future with smaller investments to get founders with great ideas off the ground.
From his days of hoofing around Georgia Tech’s campus as captain of the swim team until his latest position as the ATDC general manager, Blake is a Tech Square institution. More than that, he stays close to Tech Square because it is a representation of the larger innovation ecosystem. As he puts it, Tech Square is “what an innovation center looks like, you have all the key ingredients.” After all Tech Square has VentureLab– the nation’s second highest rated incubator, ATDC- named as a Top 12 incubator Changing the World by Forbes; GCMI- the southeast’s first comprehensive medical device innovation center; Panasonic’s Innovation Center, Flashpoint… literally too many assets to list. Simply put, Tech Square Ventures’ location puts it dead center of all of the opportunities stemming from university research and the corporate and independent projects that call those few fertile blocks home.
More on Blake Patton:
Blake is a technology entrepreneur and investor with 20 years of experience in startup, venture backed, and publicly traded internet, software, payments, and financial services companies.
Prior to founding Tech Square Ventures, Blake was General Manager of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech. Before ATDC, he served as President & COO of Interactive Advisory Software; CEO of iKobo; and EVP of iXL, an e-business consulting firm that he joined through the acquisition of Swan Media and was part of the executive team that grew the company from startup to over $300 million in annualized revenue and an IPO. Blake also founded, and later successfully sold, Siteman – one of the first application service provider (ASP) offerings in the online content management space. He started his career as an Associate at SEI Corporation.
Blake currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Atlanta CEO Council and Venture Atlanta and is a Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) Industry Fellow. He earned a Bachelor of Industrial and Systems Engineering degree from Georgia Tech. He was inducted into the Georgia Tech College of Engineering’s Council of Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni and previously served on the Georgia Tech Advisory Board. –TSV Homepage