From international supply chain challenges to gig worker payments to last-mile delivery woes, those in the commerce tech space see a lot of opportunities to innovate.
Veteran Atlanta entrepreneur Sid Mookerji told Hypepotamus that “historically, retailers are the last to adopt new technologies.” But as investments feed into adjacent sectors like logistics and FinTech, Mookerji sees a unique opportunity for Atlanta to cement itself as a retail tech hub.
Mookerji is the founder and managing partner of Silicon Road Ventures, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm focused on the early-stage e-commerce, retail, and CPG (consumer packaged goods) space.
Seeing that a more “experiential” retail experience will likely be the trend moving out of the pandemic, Silicon Road closed its first fund, totaling $31 million.
Ross Kimbel, managing director and partner, told Hypepotamus that the firm is focused on founders addressing four verticals within retail tech: in-store retail, multichannel commerce, supply chain, and FinTech/payments. The team will deploy capital from the pre-seed to Series A, and plans on building out a portfolio of around 40 companies over the coming years.
Testing the Future of Commerce Tech
40 companies may sound like an ambitious number for a first fund. But Silicon Road has developed two key programs designed to help portfolio companies connect with retail spaces and larger corporations.
The Corporate Connect Program, Kimbel said, is designed as a “high-touch, custom-curated model where we introduce our portfolio companies to corporations large and small in our network.”
“That’s often an overlooked part of the startup journey,” he added. “There’s a lot of emphasis on developing product-market fit, customer discovery, nailing the pricing model, raising capital to scale…but often what is overlooked is ‘how do you land a major enterprise?’ Often, there is a clash between how a startup sees the world and how a corporation [does].”
Mookerji brings his experience as CEO and founder of SPI (acquired by Cognizant in 2018). Kimbel brings his background as Global Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship with Coca-Cola’s early-stage investing arm.
Kimbel said he met Mookerji back in 2019 and was drawn to his “love and commitment to Atlanta.”
That commitment to local entrepreneurs is apparent in the firm’s other program, the Retail Sandbox Program. Portfolio companies will have the opportunity to test emerging technology in the physical retail space at Citizen Supply, a curated marketplace in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market.
Portfolio companies Wripple and Turn will be tested by the in-store staff at Citizen Supply, and Perch Interactive, a retail engagement platform, will test its computer vision technology with customers.