While we don’t have any official stats on R.E.M.’s overall impact on the VC world since the Athens-based rock band formed in 1980, we do know they influenced at least the name of Atlanta’s latest venture fund.
Mike Dowdle, veteran entrepreneur and investor, spoke with Hypepotamus about the process of launching his new venture capital fund, Circadian Ventures. Dowdle started his career in consulting and noted that “every night when the lights went out, it meant that revenue that wasn’t being generated.” This inspired him to seek out unique tech-based companies when he entered the investing world.
Inspired by the lyrics in R.E.M.’s Daysleeper, Dowdle says he is looking to be “involved in businesses that generate revenue 24 hours a day.”
Circadian will focus on what Dowdle sees as a current gap for early-stage, post-revenue companies. Atlanta, in particular, has seen a growing number of $100 million+ funds over the past few years, making it more difficult for younger startups to access first checks. “It’s a natural evolution of the market. If you go back 15 years ago, there was a ton of angel capital, but entrepreneurs complained that they weren’t able to raise their first institutional round in town. That was solved 6-10 years ago when a lot of funds started in Atlanta,” Dowdle told Hypepotamus. “Now, if you’re a $100 million fund, you really can’t write $1 million checks…you’d have to manage 100 different deals.”
Dowdle says his $15 million fund will focus on working with seasoned entrepreneurs who are domain experts in their particular fields. “My investment thesis has evolved as well. The common theme, if you look at my portfolio, is these companies are run by very strong, experienced entrepreneurs.”
As a self-described generalist, Dowdle is looking to invest in and work with experienced entrepreneurs so that he can focus on driving introductions to clients and potential follow-on capital.
Dowdle says the venture fund was born out of his time doing syndicate deals after his company CPO Commerce was sold to United Stationers (now Staples) in 2014. Dowdle’s first entrepreneurial venture, Webbed Feet out of Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), was acquired by iXL Enterprises.
Dowdle’s other personal angel investments and investments through Circadian Group have included Atlanta’s RoadSync, brrr, SoftWear Automation, Apptega, and InsightPool, along with California-based lifestyle brand johnnie-O.