One of the questions I’ve been asked several times is if there’s a venture fund as part of the Atlanta Tech Village. My answer is “no” but we’ve considered it in the past and we’ll look at it again in the future. We stay away from using the word “incubator” to describe the Atlanta Tech Village as there’s no equity component and we don’t want the stigma of the failed dot-com incubators. As for a venture fund, we also don’t want to create a system where startups that haven’t received funding from the affiliated fund are viewed differently (with 200+ startups, the scale makes the non-funding less of a potential issue).
Here are a few things we’d like to see in place before doing a venture fund:
- More success stories (we’re making good progress building our reputation with startups like BitPay, Yik Yak, Insightpool, and SalesLoft)
- More exits (we’ve had a few acqui-hire deals with startups in the Village but nothing substantial)
- More differentiable areas of strength (we’re strong in Software-as-a-Service and business software, but eventually want more specific areas of expertise)
Overall, one of the most important aspects is building a reputation that the Atlanta Tech Village increases the chances of startup success. With a reputation for success in place, raising a fund to invest in Village startups will come naturally.
What else? What are some other thoughts on a venture fund associated with the Atlanta Tech Village?