A small but powerful team of venture superstars at Engage, the Atlanta-based independent venture fund and accelerator backed by 10 corporate giants and Georgia Tech, is ready to begin sifting through startup applications. The first cohort of up to 8 companies will kick off the three-month program in August.
It’s not uncommon for large companies to enter the venture world (think Intel Capital or Google Ventures), but Engage, which was first initiated by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, likely has the most Fortune 1000 corporate backers of any fund in the country thus far. The list of heavy hitters contributing capital includes: AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation Inc., Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco Ltd., The Home Depot, and UPS.
Those companies will also contribute expertise and resources, with executives serving on an individual level as mentors and advisors.
“The core mission of Engage Ventures is to help emerging companies get their products to market. We have an incredible lineup of Fortune 1000 companies, CEOs and executives who will dedicate their talent and resources to help our entrepreneurs achieve their visions,” said Thiago Olson, the new Managing Director of Engage Ventures. “Our pooled investment model for corporations is quite novel; it will let Engage maintain investment independence, while at the same time empowering startups to choose their own best path forward.”
Also a Partner at Tech Square Ventures and an ATDC Entrepreneur in Residence in their Fintech vertical, Olson has not only a investor’s perspective but also that of a founder — he founded and sold a connected credit card platform, raising $10 million in capital along the way.
Duriya Farooqui, Executive Director of Atlanta Committee for Progress (ACP), will also serve as an Advisor for Engage. ACP is a coalition of CEOs, including those of the Engage founding companies, Atlanta leaders and city government. Farooqui formerly served as the COO of the City of Atlanta.
The unique experience of the Engage team reflects the unique way this fund, which currently manages a total of $15 million, is structured.
Each startup will originally receive $75,000 in exchange for 6 percent equity (with exceptions for companies with significantly-higher revenue or funding already). They will receive free workspace in Tech Square, education and resources from ATDC, and access to legal support, design, IP, and public relations resources.
Engage may co-invest additional capital in later funding rounds for its portfolio companies, as well.
Engage is industry-agnostic and limited to earlier stage companies — startups that have raised less than $5 million total can apply now through July 8 to join the program.
Featured photo via Georgia Tech