FasterCapital, a virtual incubator based in Dubai, is looking for southeastern startups and has placed boots on the ground to do it. Former Silicon Valley startup catalyst and technology entrepreneur Arthur Stepanyan is serving as the startup program’s first Regional Partner in the southeast and will be based in Atlanta.
Stepanyan joins 130 Regional Partners FasterCapital has placed worldwide.
“My role here on the ground is to meet with companies, see what they offer in terms of their intellectual capital, and how we can proceed with them,” says Stepanyan, who served as VP of Global Strategic Partnerships at the Silicon Valley Innovation Center, an organization intended to foster and accelerate innovation for corporations and business executives.
FasterCapital has been in operation since 2010 and has about $10 million invested overall. It is currently in its fourth cycle of funding — the previous funding cycle looked at more than 500 entrepreneurs from over 60 countries, with capital invested in about 30 startups.
It has two programs, the first being “Incubation”, where startups receive free technical resources, legal and marketing mentorship and advice, and potentially, access to capital through a network of investors and venture capital partners.
“The connection with FasterCapital will open local startups’ opportunities in international markets,” says Stepanyan.
This level is appropriate even for idea-stage startups without a complete product, he says.
The second level of the program is the “Accelerator”, at which point startups receive funding from FasterCapital. The fund may provide up to half of a startups’ seed or Series A round, up to about half a million dollars. The entrepreneurs get the mentorship, free technical resources, and network as well.
The FasterCapital model is perfect for non-technical founders, according to Stepanyan, because they step in to serve as the technical co-founder. The organization has over 100 developers to work on products for the startups they invest in.
“An important difference of the FasterCapital program is these founders don’t have to be developers,” says Stepanyan. “As long as the idea is solid, there is promise to it, the developer can be provided by the FasterCapital team. That support is provided as part of the contribution.”
For both programs, startups undergo three levels of evaluation: business, financial, and technical. Though the company does not have to have revenue, or in some cases even a product, experts in each field will evaluate what will be necessary to get the product off the ground, what technical expertise will be necessary, and how big the market size is.
Stepanyan says that limited local capital is holding back southeastern startups.
“I came here a few months ago, and, working with the startups here, the talent is impressive. There are so many creative people, there are quite a few elements of the startup ecosystem that already provide support. What I noticed though, is startups here, in the Southeast in general, are strapped for cash. It’s very difficult to get funding here, especially at the seed level,” says Stepanyan.
“Angels are very limited, proper VC capital is just being created, and it affects the valuation of the startups here — it’s below what it should be. That’s why I think there needs to be a pipeline of cash feeding the ecosystem here.”
FasterCapital’s acceptance process is underway now and will wrap on December 16th. Stepanyan hopes to add about a dozen southeastern startups to the virtual incubator’s roster in this round.