Engage, the Atlanta-based corporate-backed venture fund and startup growth program, has announced investments into eight startups for its second growth program. Engage counts 10 of Georgia’s biggest corporations and Invest Georgia as its backers, making it the largest grouping of corporate players in one independent fund in the country.
Each company will receive initial investment and entree into the highly-curated Engage network of entrepreneurs and corporate executives. Three are headquartered in Atlanta — STORD, ThingTech, and Verady — and another, DEV/CON Detect, recently expanded operations from Memphis into Atlanta with acceptance into the ATDC portfolio.
The additional four companies come from all over the country — Engage’s Managing Director Thiago Olson says, after the proven success of their first program, they have been largely recruiting from leads sent by other VC firms and investors.
Though only a $16.5 million fund, Engage’s unique structure is specifically geared to create a network of connections between the entrepreneurs and corporate players. Its backers are AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco, The Home Depot and UPS. Invest Georgia, the state’s investment program, also joined with an additional $1.5 million in October 2017.
“We chose to participate after seeing the unique approach that the Engage fund places on curating useful and long-term dialogues with their corporate partners,” says Sean Henry, founder and CEO of STORD. Henry was recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list and says the company is growing and hiring quickly.
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