Engage Celebrates Ninth Cohort of High-growth Startups

 

Reps from cohort nine companies: From left, Ian Bresnahan, co-founder and CEO at Itential; Dan Johnston, co-founder and CEO at WorkStep; Emil Davityan, founder and CEO at Bluedot; Christine Tao, co-founder and CEO at Sounding Board; Kristen Sonday, co-founder and CEO at Paladin; Van West, co-founder and CEO at Vocalytics AI; Michael Scharff, co-founder and CEO at Evolv AI; and Brandon Card, co-founder and CEO at Terzo

Engage, the Enterprise Innovation Institute program that connects high-growth startups with Fortune 500 decision-makers, recently celebrated its ninth cohort at the 2022 Spring Executive Reception.

 

The Engage idea started in 2015 “with a conversation with some of the city’s leading CEOs,” said Blake Patton, managing partner of Engage and Tech Square Ventures. “They were talking about the need to drive innovation in their companies and the desire to bring additional capital to the region.”

 

Since that discussion, 67 startups — 33% of them from Atlanta — have been through the Engage program. They have created over 2,000 jobs and raised $1.7 billion.

 

More than 180 people attended the reception hosted at Honeywell’s Innovation Center that featured the founders of the cohort companies, as well as discussions by program alumni, and a keynote address from Georgia Power Chairman and CEO and Engage board member Chris Womack.

 

Keith Townsend, a partner at King & Spalding, spoke about how the city of Atlanta is the perfect place for a program like Engage. “We’re in a great city that has a diverse, talented, and skilled population. It has one of the densest populations of Fortune 500 companies in the country, with a vibrant art, music, and now movie production scene. You roll that together, and it gives companies, large and small, a very talented workforce to draw from, which I think is just terrific.”

 

The evening featured a fireside chat with Allison Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Engage portfolio company The Mom Project, and Kellie Schönberg, Invesco’s global head of corporate social responsibility. They discussed Robinson’s experience in the first Engage cohort in 2017. The Mom Project — Allison herself is the mother of three — is a platform for connecting moms, dads, and allies with companies that value the work-life flexibility parents need and want to tap into this often overlooked and deep talent pool.

 

Robinson’s background at Proctor & Gamble — working on the Pampers brand, where she was immersed in all things mom — and then becoming a mom herself made her realize “there’s a huge need in the marketplace to help create these opportunities for moms,” she said. “There’s so much dormant strength in the economy that could be captured if we could help meet her on her terms.” This was the birth, so to speak, of The Mom Project.

 

Since its founding, The Mom Project’s platform has unlocked over $300 million in earning potential by connecting our more than 1 million moms, dads, and allies with opportunities at more than 3,000 companies, including Invesco, Georgia-Pacific, Nike, and Apple.

 

Following the pandemic with its especially huge impact on women of color, The Mom Project launched RISE, a scholarship program committed to accelerating equity for moms of color. RISE provides access to upskill certifications while harnessing the power of community, support, and job placement — all in as little as three months and at no cost to participants.

 

Go Far Together

 

The program continued with a chat about sustainability, a topic growing in importance for large corporations and startups. Lisa Carlson, Engage’s corporate director, moderated the discussion with Kim Cobb, Georgia Tech’s Georgia Power chair, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and director of the Global Change Program and Doug Wright, president and CEO of Honeywell Building Technologies.

 

The purpose of the discussion, Carlson said, was “to get two dynamic leaders, one from the world of higher education and one from the business side, to talk through the actions that are going to be required in this new frontier [of sustainability], and what some of the challenges are, and how we can work together in a new collaborative manner to drive some scalable changes around the globe.”

 

Cobb discussed ways Georgia Tech is working to solve some of the problems of climate change and sustainability as part of Drawdown Georgia, a “research-based roadmap for achieving carbon neutrality in Georgia,” she said. “We just launched the Drawdown Georgia business compact community, which already has 30 members, including some of the Engage partners, who are working together to enhance collaboration, share best practices, accelerate the development of voluntary targets, and make sure that the business community is involved in what may be some nascent policy development in the state.”

 

Wright talked about the importance of large corporations and smaller businesses working together to help solve problems. “Smaller businesses move faster,” he said. “They can work to solve problems at a higher clock speed. And then as a larger organization, what we can do with that is we can take it to scale. So, maybe there’s some innovation that we identify in a startup around air quality monitoring, but I can take that to tens of thousands of customers overnight, as a large organization. There’s a virtuous circle that I think works together.”

 

Keynote speaker Chris Womack started by touting the benefits of being part of the Atlanta technology ecosystem. Then talked about the importance of that ecosystem working together to ensure it continues to thrive.

 

It’s not enough to leave it to legislative leaders to solve the challenges, but individual changemakers and communities and networks that drive innovation should take the lead and do so collaboratively, Womack said.

 

“There’s an African proverb that says if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together. If we want to go far, we go together,” he said. “I think that’s the opportunity that we have, as we invest in this focus on entrepreneurship.”

 

Connecting to Grow

 

Womack’s words on entrepreneurship and the importance of working together, reinforced the mission of Engage, which is to promote innovation through a network of connections between startups, corporations, university researchers, and the venture community. It’s these connections to a diverse range of corporate and business leaders that helps accelerate startups in the program.

 

The value of connection is also echoed by the cohort leaders themselves.

 

“My favorite part of the Engage experience was meeting with the other founders,” said Kristen Sonday, co-founder and CEO of Paladin. “Oftentimes, you’re going through a lot of different situations that they’ve already been through and being able to share best practices and experiences is really helpful.”

 

The founders all agreed that meeting with the other companies in the cohort was an important part of the Engage experience. They also valued time spent with corporate partners and learning from them how to navigate relationships with Fortune 500 companies.

 

“The number one thing that I learned through the Engage program was that there are so many different ways to connect with partners and stakeholders in the corporates that we’re trying to work with,” said Emil Davityan, founder and CEO at Bluedot. “Everybody has their core day to day role and the mission that they’re on as a business. And every business is driven by its own unique culture. So instead of just trying to sell technology, we have to ask how do we situate ourselves and our own company culture in the context of the teams that we’re working with? Are they driven through data, through personalities and relationships? What is the overarching strategy? And for us, learning how to connect with that from the very first conversation and build those relationships was incredibly valuable.”

 

Engage’s cohort nine companies are:

  • Bluedot: Its location software helps improve curbside pickup, loyalty, frictionless drive-thrus, and augmented reality gamification.
  • Evolv AI: Uses machine learning to continuously find better ways to digitally connect enterprises with customers.
  • Itential: Automation platform that supports both network and cloud infrastructure, helps organizations maintain network compliance, reduce manual operations, and simplify network management.
  • Paladin: Streamlines legal pro bono programs, helping attorneys reach their professional responsibility goals more easily while decreasing administrative work and costs for Fortune 500s.
  • Sounding Board: Works with enterprises to develop strong leaders using a solution to manage, scale, and measure coaching.
  • Terzo: IT/workflow and data hub for vendor processes and contracts that enables enterprises to better manage vendors and transform them into strategic partners.
  • Vocalytics AI: Software for health, safety, and customer experience listens to ambient noise and sends real-time alerts when needed most.
  • WorkStep: Helps manufacturing, logistics, and retail companies hire and retain their hourly workforce by matching candidates and driving engagement and retention initiatives.

Honeywell Joins Atlanta-Based Engage to Help City Grow as a Leading Innovation Hub

Honeywell Connected Enterprise President and CEO Que Dallara joins Engage’s Board of Directors.

 

Honeywell announced today it has joined Atlanta-based Engage, a collaborative innovation and corporate venture platform that is dedicated to promoting the city as a technology hub. Honeywell Connected Enterprise is based in Midtown Atlanta and is one of the city’s leading businesses in the enterprise software industry.

 

Honeywell and other leading Atlanta companies in Engage are helping high-growth startups accelerate their enterprise go-to-market strategies through collaboration with Fortune 500 organizations. As an Engage partner, Honeywell will work with entrepreneurs who are developing new business ideas and participate in its bi-annual Enterprise Go-To-Market program. Additionally, getting plugged into this innovation ecosystem will create experiences for Honeywell employees to advance their entrepreneurial capability and gain exposure to leading innovators, top researchers, and ambitious startup founders.

 

“Honeywell is proud to call Atlanta home for our software business, and we share a common goal with Engage in helping businesses grow through new technology,” said Que Dallara, president and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise. “We believe this is an important partnership to assist organizations here and in the surrounding region as Atlanta rapidly expands as an innovation hub.”

 

In addition to Honeywell Connected Enterprise’s investment into the Engage Venture Fund that is managed by Tech Square Ventures to support the Engage program, Dallara will join Engage’s board of directors. Usman Shuja, vice president and general manager of Connected Buildings, will become a member of the advisory board.

 

“Honeywell is a leading innovator in enterprise software and brings valuable leadership, future-forward ideas, and strategic execution to Engage,” said Daley Ervin, Engage managing director. “We are looking forward to the expertise that Honeywell will bring to our network of senior executives and entrepreneurs working together in the pursuit of industry-changing technology.”

 

“Supporting startups and entrepreneurs through Engage is an opportunity for Honeywell to invest in Atlanta’s innovation ecosystem,” Shuja said. “By advising and partnering with some of nation’s newest transformative companies, we aspire to help them become well positioned for long-term growth. We believe the success of these new startups will strengthen the city’s international leadership as a center for innovation, particularly in the software and technology industries.”

 

By partnering with Engage, startups and entrepreneurs gain fresh insights to help them better achieve their strategic goals, understand new growth opportunities, and explore solutions to key business challenges. Engage also provides entrepreneurs with access to new customers and markets.

 

“As a founding partner of the Engage program, Georgia-Pacific is pleased to see the continued commitment by leading enterprises to work with startups and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Engage board member Jim Hannan, Koch Industries executive vice president and CEO-Enterprises. “With Honeywell joining the platform, Engage will further accelerate its mission of strengthening corporate connectivity and fueling economic development across Atlanta and the Southeast.”

 

About Honeywell
Honeywell (www.honeywell.com) is a Fortune 100 technology company that delivers industry-specific solutions that include aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings and industry; and performance materials globally. Our technologies help aircraft, buildings, manufacturing plants, supply chains, and workers become more connected to make our world smarter, safer, and more sustainable. For more news and information on Honeywell, please visit www.honeywell.com/newsroom.

 

About Engage
Based in Georgia Tech’s Technology Square, Engage is a first-of-its-kind collaborative innovation and corporate venture platform where category-leading corporations in the Southeast have joined forces to support startups building the future of enterprise. Engage partners include Chick-fil-A, The Coca-Cola Company, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Georgia Tech, Goldman Sachs, The Home Depot, Honeywell Connected Enterprise, Inspire Brands, Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco, Invest Georgia, Tech Square Ventures, UPS, and Wellstar Health System. The Engage Fund is managed by Tech Square Ventures. As an affiliate of Georgia Tech, a top 10 public research technology and commercialization university, Engage has direct access to Tech’s startup, innovation, and research initiatives. Learn more about Engage at engage.vc.

Coca-Cola Fuels Atlanta’s Startup Ecosystem with Investment in Engage Collaborative Innovation and Corporate Venture Platform

Coca-Cola joins blue chip roster of corporations supporting startups.

 

The Coca-Cola Company’s world headquarters in Atlanta’s Midtown. (File photo.)

The Coca-Cola Company is joining Engage, a collaborative innovation and corporate venture program comprised of Fortune 500 corporations, enterprise startups, and a top research university with a shared mission to elevate Atlanta and the Southeast as a leading technology and innovation hub.

 

The investment fund that supports the Engage program and managed by Tech Square Ventures, is backed by 14 Atlanta-based corporations that represent 13 unique industries, including Delta, Invesco, Cox Enterprises, The Home Depot, UPS and Chick-fil-A. Early-stage, B2B enterprise tech startups are selected for the bi-annual, 10-week Engage Program in cohorts of six to eight companies that network with and learn from their fellow founders, university researchers, and corporate partners such as Coca-Cola.

 

To date, the 50 startups that have completed the program — which is offered in the spring and fall — have raised more than $835 million in additional funding from tier-one venture capital firms. Engage portfolio companies have signed more than 90 paid contracts with enterprise partners.

 

“We are excited about our new partnership with Engage, joining other corporations in Atlanta in attracting and supporting the fast-growing startup and innovation ecosystem that is quickly emerging in the Southeast,” said Marie Quintero-Johnson, vice president and head of corporate development at The Coca-Cola Company. “Engage provides Coca-Cola access to companies and talent with novel solutions in key areas of interest to us. It also offers the opportunity to collaborate with other Engage corporate partners.”

 

Enterprise partners provide funding, mentoring and insights on areas where innovation is needed. Coca-Cola Chief Financial Officer John Murphy serves on the Engage Board of Directors, and Quintero-Johnson is a member of its Board of Advisors.

 

Engage companies focus on six key enterprise areas: Customer Experience, Supply Chain and Manufacturing, Future of Work, Big Data, Analytics, & Security, Logistics & Mobility, and Climate Tech & Sustainability. Engage invests in startups all over the country, and more than 50 percent are headquartered in Atlanta or based in the Southeast.

 

“We very much look forward to partnering with Coca-Cola as we work to strengthen Atlanta’s enterprise-focused startup ecosystem,” said Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera. “Our entrepreneurs will all have the opportunity to work with and learn from an innovative global consumer brand that leads the world in everything from logistics to commercialization. This partnership is yet another illustration of Georgia Tech’s longtime commitment to drive economic development and support innovation in Georgia by partnering with both well-established companies as well as new startups. We are excited to see where this collaboration will lead.”

 

Atlanta has emerged as a hotbed of innovation due to a unique combination of entrepreneurial talent and established, category-leading corporations. And, unlike most other startup hubs focused on high-tech, healthcare or finance, the city’s ecosystem is diversified across industries.

 

“This ecosystem has gained a lot of momentum over the last few years,” said Engage Managing Director Daley Ervin. “The flywheel is starting to spin and create a waterfall effect of both talent and capital.”

 

Ervin highlighted the value of having hometown access to Georgia Tech’s in-demand engineering graduates who “no longer have to leave for one of the coasts” to start their careers.

 

Engage serves as the “connective tissue” between corporations, startups and research institutions like Georgia Tech. “We want to be seen as major problem-solvers for the Fortune 500,” Ervin said. “We help them see around corners, working closely with our partners to understand their strategic priorities and innovation roadmaps to identify leading startups that can help address these pain points and opportunities.”

 

In addition to having access to the innovative offerings of participating startups, enterprise partners learn to embrace startup entrepreneurial thinking in their respective cultures. They also can share insights with their fellow sponsors, many of whom face with similar challenges.

 

“It’s a unique model that delivers value to all stakeholders in this ecosystem,” Ervin said.

 

About Engage:
Engage is a collaborative innovation and corporate venture platform that brings together 14 Fortune 500 corporations in the Southeast to partner with startups building the future of the enterprise.

Engage’s partners are Chick-fil-A, The Coca-Cola Company, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Georgia Tech, Goldman Sachs, The Home Depot, Inspire Brands, Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco, Invest Georgia, Tech Square Ventures, UPS, and Wellstar Health System. The Engage Fund is managed by Tech Square Ventures. Engage’s exclusive partnership with Georgia Tech, one of the country’s top research and technology commercialization universities, provides unique access to its startup, innovation, and research initiatives.

Wellstar invests in Engage corporate venture platform to fuel innovation

Innovation is vital to the Wellstar mission, says Candice Saunders (pictured), the health system’s president and CEO.

Building on a rich history of innovation and impact in healthcare delivery, Wellstar Health System has launched Catalyst by WellstarTM, a global digital health and innovation center.

 

As part of the center’s work, Wellstar has partnered with corporate innovation and venture platform Engage to connect and collaborate with industry-leading corporations, enterprise startups, and universities to fuel innovation. To foster meaningful discussion, action, and philanthropy around healthcare innovation, the Catalyst by Wellstar leadership team will participate in a Wellstar Foundation-hosted Innovation Series virtual event on June 15.

 

Catalyst by Wellstar is the first-of-its-kind global digital health and innovation center created and operated within a health system to holistically address healthcare disruption by harnessing problems, solutions, investments, and partnerships across industries. The center defines and drives leading-edge, transformative solutions that enhance the health and well-being of people and communities with world-class results and impact.

 

As technology continues to advance and consumers become more empowered by digital solutions and information access, innovation to solve problems and seize opportunities will evolve and impact how healthcare is delivered and used. Wellstar is committed to transforming healthcare through problem sourcing from patients, community members, physicians and team members, and partners to lead mission-driven innovation. Catalyst by Wellstar is designed to harness, accelerate, optimize, and scale people-centric solutions that:

  • Disrupt how Wellstar delivers care to create better patient and provider experiences.
  • Maximize quality and safety to improve outcomes while reducing the total cost of care.
  • Enhance health and well-being for people through access, engagement, and empowerment.
  • Optimize enterprise performance excellence, efficiencies, and productivity.
  • Impact communities and the world by designing the future of healthcare.

 

“Innovation is vital to our mission of enhancing the health and well-being of every person we serve, today and into the future,” said Candice L. Saunders, president and CEO, Wellstar Health System. “Catalyst by Wellstar positions us to lead change across our system, communities, and the healthcare industry.”

 

Catalyst by Wellstar convenes and activates best-in-class entrepreneurs, philanthropists, innovation ecosystems, research and development experts, corporate partners, academicians and scientists, and thought leaders inside and outside of the healthcare industry. The center will encompass innovation that drives positive impact related to:

  • Sustainability
  • Aging and children
  • Health equity

 

“There is endless opportunity to transform healthcare in positive and meaningful ways,” said Dr. Hank Capps, executive vice president and chief information and digital officer, Wellstar Health System. “With Catalyst by Wellstar, our system is poised to purposefully drive innovation faster than the speed of change through thought leadership and collaboration. Our global digital health and innovation center will equip Wellstar to transform the way healthcare is delivered for years to come.”

 

The first Catalyst by Wellstar partnership is an investment in Atlanta-based Engage, a first-of-its-kind collaborative innovation and corporate venture platform at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Engage brings together industry-leading corporations, enterprise startups, and universities with the shared mission of elevating Atlanta and the Southeast as a leading technology and innovation hub. Wellstar is the only healthcare company to partner with Engage. Saunders has joined Engage’s board of directors and Capps has been named to the Engage Advisory Board.

 

“As a regional and national healthcare leader, Wellstar brings critical industry perspective to the Engage platform,” said Daley Ervin, managing director of Engage. “Our corporate partners are facing challenges posed by large-scale digital transformation and rapidly evolving customer expectations. Through this partnership, Wellstar will benefit from the expertise of a broad network of industry-leading companies while also leveraging the startup and university research ecosystem on their journey to design the future of healthcare.”

 

As a result of Wellstar’s investment in Engage, the system will have the opportunity to collaborate with startup technology companies as part of the innovation process, alongside other Engage partners: Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, the Georgia Power Foundation, Georgia Tech, Goldman Sachs, Home Depot, Inspire Brands, Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco, Invest Georgia, Tech Square Ventures, and UPS. The Engage Fund is managed by Tech Square Ventures. Engage’s exclusive partnership with Georgia Tech, one of the country’s top research and technology commercialization universities, provides unique access to its startup, innovation, and research initiatives.

 

“Healthcare is one of the strategic areas of focus for UPS and I am thrilled to welcome Wellstar to the Engage partnership,” said Matt Guffey, president of Global Strategy and Transformation at UPS and Engage Advisory Board member.

 

The second Wellstar Foundation Healthcare Innovation Series virtual roundtable will take place on June 15, 2021 from noon to 1:30 p.m. The event will focus on “Designing the Future of Healthcare,” with emphasis on the role of technology and innovation. The Series convenes community, philanthropic, and thought leaders to facilitate conversation and collaboration to propel the transformation of healthcare. More than 100 participants attended the inaugural event and engaged in discussion about how to enhance health equity. For more information, contact gro.ratsllewnull@evig.

Inspire Invests in Engage to Further Fuel Innovation in Atlanta

Inspire Brands announced that it will be joining Atlanta, Georgia-based Engage, a first-of-its-kind collaborative innovation and corporate venture platform. Founded in 2018, Inspire Brands, based in Sandy Springs, Georgia, is the the second-largest restaurant company in the United States and its holdings include Arby’s, Dunkin Brands Group, Jimmy John’s, and Sonic Drive-In.

 

Engage — an offering of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, the economic development arm of the Georgia Institute of Technology — brings together industry-leading corporations, enterprise startups, and universities with the shared mission of elevating Atlanta and the Southeast as a leading technology and innovation hub. Through Inspire’s investment, the company will collaborate with B2B enterprise technology startups, work with entrepreneurs in pursuit of industry-changing ideas, and participate in Engage’s bi-annual Enterprise Go-To-Market program.

 

Paul Brown

Paul Brown, Inspire Brands’ CEO and co-founder.

In addition to Inspire’s investment, Inspire CEO Paul Brown will join Engage’s board of directors, while the company’s chief growth officer, Christian Charnaux, has joined Engage’s advisory board.

 

The company sees the partnership as an opportunity to collaborate with Engage and help its portfolio startups scale while propelling innovation at Inspire. “Atlanta has built a reputation as a city that successfully incubates companies and attracts talent, especially in the technology sector,” Brown said. “Engage builds upon that reputation by bringing together early-stage ventures and established companies across Atlanta.”

 

Engage Managing Director Daley Ervin noted how Inspire Brands will complement what the venture platform and its existing corporate partners are doing and propel efforts even further.

 

Engage Managing Director Daley Ervin.

“Inspire Brands enhances our industry coverage and helps our entrepreneurs access new markets in key industry verticals. By working closely with our corporate partners, we derive sourcing insights that allow us to invest in startups with an unmatched fit and applicability to their strategic and innovation roadmaps,” Ervin said. “We’re very fortunate to have partners like Inspire Brands, which leads its industry and is truly leaning in from the executive suite on down.”

 

Engage is strengthening corporate innovation and venture capital by introducing a collaborative venture investment model for corporations. “Adding Inspire Brands, the nation’s second-largest restaurant company, as a partner firm helps bring more disruptive startups in food service and customer experience verticals to Engage,” said Marty Flannagan, president and CEO of Invesco, and chairman of the Engage Board of Directors.

 

“Executives and senior leaders in our partnership will also benefit from the Inspire team’s unique insights in building long-term brands with rewarding customer experiences. This will further enhance the connective tissue between Atlanta’s ecosystem of startups, corporations, and universities — strengthening the virtuous cycle of attracting more disruptive startups across the board to the Southeast and further establishing Atlanta as an innovation hub.”

 

In addition to Inspire, Engage’s partners are AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Georgia Tech, Goldman Sachs, The Home Depot, Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco, Invest Georgia, Tech Square Ventures, and UPS. The Engage Fund is managed by Tech Square Ventures. Engage’s exclusive partnership with Georgia Tech, one of the country’s top research and technology commercialization universities, provides unique access to its startup, innovation, and research initiatives.

Engage Ventures launches Expert Council to help corporate partners address challenges; find solutions

Daley Ervin, Engage’s entrepreneur-in-residence

Daley Ervin is Engage Ventures’ entrepreneur-in-residence. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Engage Ventures has launched a roundtable series designed to get a deeper understanding and more insight into its corporate partners’ business challenges and connect them with potential solutions in its portfolio, as well as the Tech’s resources and capabilities.

 

The Engage Expert Council — comprised of corporate thought leaders and C suite-level information, cybersecurity, and information technology executives — aims to remove barriers by getting critical decision makers together to share best practices, identify emerging trends, and dissect business challenges.

 

Engage, launched in 2017, is a mentorship-driven accelerator and early-stage venture fund that targets high-tech startups from across the United States. Its core focus is on mentoring and creating go-to-market frameworks for its portfolio companies.

 

The $18 million Engage Ventures Fund I is supported by Engage’s corporate partners, which contributed $1.5 million each. The Expert Council is comprised of and open to executives of Engage’s 12 partners.

 

“Our corporate partners are in divergent industries ranging from retail, food, and logistics to finance, media, and energy. Even though they’re in different sectors, they’re facing some of the same challenges, in many cases,” said Daley Ervin, Engage’s entrepreneur-in-residence who conceived of the initiative. “This experts council effort will facilitate discussions where they can learn from each other’s experiences, allow us to better understand their needs, identify how our companies can solve their challenges, and be a conduit into Georgia Tech’s offerings.”

 

The first Engage Expert Council meeting was held Dec. 3 with a focus on cybersecurity. It featured Michael Farrell, co-executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security & Privacy (IISP) as discussion moderator.

 

Michael Farrell, co-executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security & Privacy (IISP).

Michael Farrell, co-executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security & Privacy (IISP). (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

“Cybersecurity is a top priority for companies regardless of industry, and Georgia Tech is a premier organization in this space,” Ervin said. “The IISP is at the forefront of cutting-edge research and innovation. I was excited to collaborate with Gloria Griessman, IISP’s director of commercialization and industry collaboration, to develop this initiative.”

 

Georgia Tech is home to 11 Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs) which are charged with bringing together a mix of researchers — spanning units all across campus – around one core research area. These IRIs also connect a large portfolio of basic and applied research programs, support world-class research facilities and laboratories, engage Georgia Tech students, and collaborate with government and industry research partners.

 

“The Institute for Information Security & Privacy is one of the largest and most unique research collectives in the nation for cybersecurity,” Farrell said. “Georgia Tech is world class in its depth and breadth in cybersecurity, and we apply these talents to society’s toughest challenges.

 

“Georgia Tech, including GTRI, has a long history of successful technology transfer to industry and government partners and the IISP is excited to offer this expertise I security and privacy to the Engage platform.”

 

IISP’s programs involve both hardware and software, span raw silicon to user interfaces, go from internationally published papers to classified programs, range in size from $300,000 to $30 million, and address aspects from information theory to user privacy to acquisition to international policy implications.

 

Farrell led a discussion on innovation and new technologies in the industry and how those changes could affect the business community.

 

Joining him in that discussion were:

 

  • Peter Swire, IISP’s associate director for policy and the Elizabeth & Tommy Holder Chair of Law and Ethics at Tech’s Scheller College of Business;
  • Sudheer Chavadirector of the Quantitative & Computational Finance Program and IISP’s associate director for risk management, and
  • Brendan Saltaformaggio, an assistant professor in Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Cyber Forensics Innovation (CyFI) Laboratory.

 

The Engage Expert Council is comprised of corporate thought leaders and C suite-level information, cybersecurity, and information technology executives. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Engage Expert Council is comprised of corporate thought leaders and C suite-level information, cybersecurity, and information technology executives. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Swire addressed how the European Union’s General Date Protection Regulation has created major challenges for global organizations, with new enforcement actions. Chava discussed cyberattacks, firm responses, and stock market reaction to these attacks.

 

Saltaformaggio explored emerging research in computer systems security and cyber forensics.

 

“The caliber of what Tech can provide to the corporate sector, in addition to our portfolio companies’ offerings, is what is driving this effort,” Daley said.

 

Engage plans nine more such council meetings in the coming year to focus on various topics including sustainability, robotics, and supply chain management.

 

Its fund partners include AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Goldman Sachs Group, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco Ltd., Tech Square Ventures, The Home Depot, and UPS.

 

Engage is part of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Georgia Tech’s economic development arm.

Engage’s Pryon announces formal launch and $4.5 million successful seed round raise

Igor Jablokov, Pryon's founder and CEO

Igor Jablokov, Pryon’s founder and CEO.

Pryon Inc., an enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) startup, today announced it is coming out of stealth mode. Driven by the team that designed and built the core technologies behind Amazon Alexa, IBM Watson, and other industry-leading AI platforms, Pryon is creating an Augmented Intelligence solution for the enterprise that combines the strengths of people and machines.

 

“Given the accelerating pace of technological change, speed of innovation, and increasing number of agile competitors, businesses are struggling to work at the necessary scale and speed,” said Igor Jablokov, Pryon’s founder and CEO. “Today’s employees are hampered by cumbersome and slow interfaces, siloed information, and old methods of working. In this environment, companies need new ways to combine the individual strengths of humans and machines to remain competitive.”

 

Pryon is a portfolio company in Engage, an independent, early-stage venture fund and growth program that gives entrepreneurs what they need most — customers and market access. Engage Ventures’ founding partners contributing capital, expertise, time and resources include AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Inc., The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco Ltd., Tech Square Ventures, The Home Depot, and UPS.

 

“At Engage, we partner and invest in companies that we can help gain a unique strategic advantage through our partners,” said Thiago Olson, Engage Ventures’ managing director. “Igor and the Pryon team represent a unique mix of disruptive visionaries with experience solving complex, large-scale enterprise challenges.”

 

Pryon logoPryon is leveraging its experience in machine learning (ML) to create an enterprise solution that goes far beyond today’s helpful, but limited bots, robotic process automation (RPA) tools, and voice assistants. The company’s augmented intelligence platform enables and supports a secure, natural language, and voice-based interactive agent for employees. This agent works across numerous devices, improves worker productivity, optimizes performance, increases engagement, and becomes more intelligent.

 

In the most recent Fortune survey of 500 CEOs, 81percent cited “artificial intelligence and machine learning” as either “very important” or “extremely important” to the future of their companies, up from just 54 percent in 2016. Pryon is already engaged with several Fortune 500 companies and has proofs of concepts delivering value at the world’s top communications, financial services, and logistics companies. The company’s near-term goal is to lead the Augmented Intelligence market, which is currently valued at $3.5 billion.

 

Taking the AI market to the next phase of Augmented Intelligence is possible because of Pryon’s seed round funding of $4.5M. Key investors include Greycroft Partners, Two Sigma Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, BootstrapLabs, and Engage Ventures.

 

“The vast majority of AI startups are focused on the consumer market,” noted Ian Sigalow, Co-Founder Partner at Greycroft. “With Pryon, we saw the opportunity to build something even greater for the enterprise. While this will require overcoming security, reliability, and availability challenges, we believe Pryon has a significant head start with its Augmented Intelligence platform.”

 

Added Colin Beirne, partner at Two Sigma Ventures: “Pryon exemplifies the type of vision and people we look for in early-stage, applied AI companies. Augmented Intelligence in the enterprise represents a significant opportunity, and we believe Igor and this team are uniquely equipped with the experience to build this technology. We’re proud to be investors in Pryon, and we are excited to contribute our industry perspective and technical expertise to support their growth.”

 

About Pryon Inc.
Pryon is a privately-held enterprise AI and machine learning company. Driven by the team that designed and built the core human language technologies behind Amazon Alexa and IBM Watson, Pryon is creating an Augmented Intelligence platform that combines the strengths of people and machines. Using Pryon’s secure, natural language, and voice-based interactive agent, businesses will improve the intelligence, performance, and productivity of their workers. To learn more about Pryon, please visit: https://www.pryon.ai

Engage, ATDC programs honored with ‘Groundbreaker Awards’

The team at Engage from left: Nicholas Richardson, program manager; Daley Ervin, entrepreneur-in-residence; Thiago Olson, managing director; Blake Patton,fund managing partner, and Scott Lopano, associate.

The team at Engage from left: Nicholas Richardson, program manager; Daley Ervin, entrepreneur-in-residence; Thiago Olson, managing director; Blake Patton, fund managing partner, and Scott Lopano, associate.

Atlanta Magazine honored two of the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s programs — Engage Ventures and the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) — with Groundbreaker Awards for their respective work in helping drive technology and innovation.

 

The magazine created the awards in 2012 to highlight the individuals and projects each year that are driving Atlanta forward with new, initiatives and innovative ideas.

 

This year’s theme was “Technology & Innovation” and Atlanta Magazine fêted the 2018 winners at a Nov. 1 reception held at the Atlanta History Center.

 

Engage, launched in 2017, is a mentorship-driven accelerator and early-stage venture fund that targets high-tech startups. The Engage accelerator is open to startups across the country, with a focus placed on mentoring and market access strategies. Its founding partners include AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia Tech, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Goldman Sachs Group, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco Ltd., Tech Square Ventures, The Home Depot, and UPS. The fund was initially launched with $15 million from the 10 founding corporate partners (Goldman Sachs joined in 2018). Those corporations also actively support Engage through mentoring, education, and collaboration.

 

“If we can bring together some of the leading innovators with titans of industry to develop relationships, then—fast-forward five years from now—you can only imagine where that could lead,” Engage Managing Director Thiago Olson told the magazine.

 

One year in and several cohorts later, Engage’s 24 portfolio companies have obtained venture financing of about $75 million in the last six months. Engage also reports its portfolio companies have 38 signed enterprise contracts between the startups and Fortune 500 companies.

 

Read Atlanta Magazine’s Groundbreaker Award profile on Engage Ventures here.

 

ATDC team members from left: Frank Tighe, lead entrepreneur-in-residence; Joy Hymel, Campus Connect; Jacqui Chew, marketing catalyst; Jenny Bass, startup catalyst, and Shannon Denton, entrepreneur-in-residence.

ATDC team members from left: Frank Tighe, lead entrepreneur-in-residence; Joy Hymel, Campus Connect; Jacqui Chew, marketing catalyst; Jenny Bass, startup catalyst, and Shannon Denton, entrepreneur-in-residence.

ATDC, which was founded in 1980, is the state of Georgia’s technology startup incubator. Its focus is to work with technology entrepreneurs across the state to help them learn, launch, scale, and succeed in creating viable companies.

 

“What we’ve created here is a community,” ATDC Interim Director Jane McCracken told the magazine. “The better the companies we grow, the better our city and state will be.”

 

To date, startups that have graduated from ATDC, which is one of the longest running and most successful university-affiliated incubators in the United States, have raised more than $3 billion in investment financing and generated more than $12 billion in revenue in the state of Georgia. Read Atlanta Magazine’s Groundbreaker Award profile on ATDC here.

Daley Ervin joins Engage Ventures as Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Veteran entrepreneur and ultramarathoner spent more than a decade leading venture capital-backed startups around the world.

 

 

Daley Ervin

Daley Ervin has joined Engage as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. (Photo: Allie Schonberg)

Engage, the strategic grouping of 11 major corporations in an independent venture fund and platform,announced today that Daley Ervin, a seasoned entrepreneur and executive, has joined as an entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR).

 

Ervin, who is Engage’s first named EIR, will focus on deepening corporate partner relationships and assisting portfolio founders in partnership development, go-to-market refinement, and the issues surrounding high-growth and scale.

 

“Engage’s mission is to leverage our platform to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to gain access to customers, distribution channels, and Fortune 500 scale,” said Engage Managing Director, Thiago Olson “Daley will bring immediate value to Engage, our portfolio founders, and our corporate partners, we’re excited to have him on board.”

 

Ervin has more than 10 years leading four venture capital-backed startups on three continents that raised a collective $4.6 billion. Most recently, he was Vice President of Business Development and Strategy for Amazon-backed Nucleus in New York. Prior to that, he was the General Manager and Head of North American Operations for Student.com, launched international offices for YPlan, and was part of the International Expansion Team at Airbnb.

 

“My belief in the Engage mission and seeing howcommitted the corporate partners are – from the CEOs down to operating teams – is what drew me to Engage. The partner appetite for more engagement seems to be growing rapidly. They want to build out an even more comprehensive platform,” Ervin said. “I am excited to help create opportunities for the Engage partners to connect and learn from each other by building out that platform.”

 

As a competitive ultramarathoner and extreme endurance athlete, Ervin set the United States’ pairs record having rowed 3,000 miles over 45-days across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain to the Caribbean in the “World’s Toughest Rowing Race.”

 

He earned his bachelor’s degree in business and communication from Arizona State University.

 

About Engage

Engage is a venture fund and growth platformthat gives entrepreneurs what they need most — customers and market access. Engage corporate partners contributing capital, expertise, time, and resources include AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia Tech, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Inc., The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco Ltd., Tech Square Ventures, The Home Depot and UPS. These corporate partners, along with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and Tech Square Ventures, provide tools, hands-on support and resources.Engage is headquartered in Georgia Tech’s Technology Square. For more information, visit engage.vc.

Goldman Sachs Joins Engage Venture Fund

This largest group of major corporations in a strategic venture fund helps startups access customers and markets.

Goldman Sachs logoThe Goldman Sachs Group has joined Engage, a venture fund and growth accelerator primarily focused on investing in early stage companies. The fund’s mission is to provide talented entrepreneurs with access to capital, customers, and distribution channels through its accelerator and corporate partnerships. Engage’s investors include leading public and private companies that have provided capital to the fund, and senior leaders from these companies sit on its board of directors, which Dave Dase, head of Goldman Sachs’ Investment Banking Division’s Southeast Region, will join.

 

“Engage is a unique model for a fund and accelerator because it allows an impressive group of corporations to lend their talent and resources to entrepreneurs in order to help them drive strategy and growth,” Dase said. “Goldman Sachs is committed to the Southeast and to Atlanta, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to invest in the entrepreneurial community is such a meaningful way.”

 

Goldman Sachs joins the 10 founding companies investing capital, expertise, time, and resources in support of Engage, including AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation Inc., Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco Ltd., The Home Depot, and UPS. Invest Georgia has also joined the fund since it was first announced last year. The fund is managed by Tech Square Ventures.

 

What makes Engage unique is the interaction of global companies with the startup ecosystem to help entrepreneurs build companies that will transform their markets. Rather than filling the specific needs of a single large company, Engage startups benefit from the combined perspective of all the member companies.

 

“Building on the unique market access Engage already offers, we are pleased to collaborate with Goldman Sachs to further drive innovation,” said Martin L. Flanagan, president and CEO of Invesco and chairman of Engage.  “Our startups will benefit from Goldman Sachs’ market insights and caliber of talent.”

 

Engage is based in Technology Square and provides programming and support in partnership with Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC).

 

“Since its inception a little over one year ago, Engage is already having an impact on the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Atlanta and across the country,” said Georgia Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson.  “As we engage with companies like Goldman Sachs, we are working to maximize the collective strengths of Georgia Tech, the Engage corporate partners, and the city of Atlanta to support startups nationally, while promoting Atlanta’s world-class talent and strengthening the economy here in  Georgia and the southeast.”

 

Engage recently announced an impressive group of startups selected for investment and participation in the Spring 2018 go-to-market growth program including Dev/Con, Homee, Intrinio, Pryon, Stord, ThingTech, and Verady. Leaders from these companies include serial entrepreneurs, first-time founders and founders listed on Forbes’ “30 Under 30.” The technologies they are pioneering span from autonomous flight, to artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.

 

About Goldman Sachs:

The Goldman Sachs Group is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals. Founded in 1869, the firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in all major financial centers around the world. To learn more, visit goldmansachs.com.

 

About Engage:

Engage is a venture fund and growth program that gives entrepreneurs what they need most—customers and market access. Engage corporate partners contributing capital, expertise, time and resources include AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia Tech, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Inc., The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco Ltd., Tech Square Ventures, The Home Depot and UPS. These corporate partners, along with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and Tech Square Ventures, provide tools, hands-on support, and resources that help companies develop go-to-market strategies, open doors faster, and transform strategies into action. Engage is eadquartered in Georgia Tech’s Technology Square. For more information, visit engage.vc.