Engage Ventures is a new, Atlanta-based accelerator fund for early-stage deals. It isnt managing a ton of money it just closed on $15 million for its debut effort but it does have some interesting financial backers.
Unlike a corporate venture unit thats trying to satisfy one company, Engage has instead secured its capital commitments from 10 Fortune 1000 companies that are, frankly, all over the map, and include AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco, The Home Depot and UPS.
The idea, says managing director Thiago Olson, is to ensure Engages portfolio companies have as many potential partners, as well as acquirers, as possible.
Its an interesting proposal, and one we saw more recently and on a much larger scale with Fifth Wall Ventures, a real estate-focused venture firm that earlier this month closed on $212 million in commitments from an array of heavy-hitting corporations in the real estate industry. (Among Fifth Wallsinvestorsare CBRE, the brokerage and real estate services giant, and Lowes, the home improvement franchise.)
Engage isnt a micro fund, exactly. Its more like the accelerator spin-offof an Atlanta-based venture firm calledTech Square Ventures, where Olson, a former entrepreneur, is also a venture partner. The outfit is being run independently, however, and it plans to invest in 16 companies each year, focusing in spring and summer oneight companies for three months at a stretch, beginning this August.
Other things to know: There is no sector focus. Astartups initial product should be built or near completion. And interested startups will receive $75,000. In exchange, Engage is asking for upwards of6 percent of their businesses. (Olson says Engage will take a smaller ownership stake in startups that are further along or have already raised some outside funding.)
Engage is also promising office space to companies that need it,along with mentorship from anetwork of local founders and operatorswho intend toaid the startups with theirgrowth tactics, pricing structures and go-to-market strategies.
Naturally,introductions to Engages 10 corporate backersare designed to sweeten the deal, too.
If youre thinking that Engage sounds an awful lot likethe hundreds of other new accelerator programs around world, were with you.(As of last year, at least, there were 160 of them in the U.S. alone.)
But it is smartly taking advantage of a growing trend that ofgiant companies trying to keep up with the technological shifts that couldimpact their businesses, and that are willing towork together if it helps to keep them relevant.
Startups can certainly benefit from that trend, too.
To becomea member of Engages inaugural class,hereis more information.Engage, which is based in Georgia Techs Technology Square, began taking applications yesterday.