Rapper and entertainer Clifford Joseph ‘T.I.’ Harris, Jr. has made multiple plays in Atlanta’s tech startup scene recently. The artist announced his partnership with both an early-stage fintech platform founded by two Georgia Tech engineering grads, and a scaling logistics technology startup, Sudu. He made investments into both companies.
T.I. formerly worked with the founders of Mulaah, an app that rewards users with money for looking at mobile ads, on a previous tech startup. In 2013, Vernell Woods and Dennis Campbell partnered with T.I. on Yopima, a social and events app. Though that project shuttered, T.I. stayed connected with the team — they worked with him on technology projects for his record label, Grand Hustle — and has joined this latest endeavor as an investor and partner.
“These young men are the future leaders in technology and I am excited to partner with them on this new platform,” said T.I in a statement. “I believe Mulaah is an excellent way for advertisers to connect directly with the people, and the future to helping everyday Americans earn extra income. I’m excited to be a part of Mulaah’s board and what the future holds.”
Another member of the startup team also leads marketing for producer Dallas Austin’s record label, Rowdy Records. After seeing the project, Austin has come on board as well.
Mulaah is intended for users to make “effortless revenue off their phones,” by sharing revenue with them for viewing ads.
The company says it has already partnered with advertisers, content distributors, and digital survey companies.
“I wanted to create a way to help the everyday person make more money and become business men and women on their own,” says Woods.
The app is currently in an invite-only phase on Android. The team plans to launch on iOS and open for public use in the coming weeks.
Last week T.I. also appeared onstage at Venture Atlanta, the largest venture investor conference in the Southeast, in support of logistics technology startup Sudu. Sudu is a marketplace that connects large shippers with small and medium-sized trucking companies, specifically minority, women or veteran-owned companies.
The startup began when co-founder Amari Ruff noticed the difficulty that these smaller companies, often overlooked because of their size, had connecting to those large enterprises and landing the contracts they need to scale.
“As a startup, your brand identity is everything,” says Ruff, who formerly founded a telecommunications services company. “We needed to make a big splash and I thought that T.I., a big Atlanta figure and international cultural icon who has invested in tech, could be that figure. It was an obvious partnership for us to pursue.”
Sudu is a portfolio company in the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) incubator, as well as one of 7 inaugural companies in Engage Ventures, an enterprise-backed fund supported by 10 major corporations.
Ruff says the partnership with T.I. is the first real marketing play the company has made.
“We’re excited to see how we can work together, using T.I.’s reputation and resources to reach our fullest potential,” says Ruff.