With its second cohort this year, Comcast NBCUniversal’s The Farm startup accelerator program is taking its commitment to founder diversity to a cross-border level.
Among the 10 companies set to pitch Friday, Nov. 9, at “Demo Day,” 18 percent of founders are female, and 77 percent are minorities. And beyond that, a few have international roots — from Nigeria, India and the United Kingdom.
Burunda Prince-Jones, managing director, said helping founders build a company culture is essential to getting them over the hump in a sector where success can be elusive.
“We place a strong emphasis on leadership and cultivating cultural intelligence when building a company. When you have a business landscape where over 90 percent of startups fail, the strength of the founder and the company culture is vital to ensure long-term success,” Ms. Prince said in a statement.
Nine early-stage companies will pitch to potential investors, partners and the general public as the culmination of 12 weeks of mentorship, training, prototyping and coaching included in the selective, twice-yearly accelerator program. Firms are matched with mentors from relevant sectors, and Comcast NBCUniversal executives are engaged throughout the process. The startups receive $20,000 in seed funding and ancillary benefits valued cumulatively at $1.7 million.
The Farm, operated by Colorado-based accelerator firm (and investor) Boomtown, is located at The Battery Atlanta, the mixed-use development surrounding SunTrust Park in Cobb County comprised of apartments, restaurants, offices, entertainment venues and an Omni Hotel. The Farm’s innovation lab looks down on the Atlanta Braves’ baseball field.
Like other Atlanta-based startup programs that have sprung up or landed here in recent years, The Farm hasn’t been afraid to invite the world in. It may not have the explicit international recruitment reach of Techstars, which scours the globe for applicants, but The Farm has wooed companies whose founders have ex-U.S. origins, even as they set down roots in Atlanta.
FlexSpace, which combines companies’ search for new office space with a full suite of design and management services, is run by CEO Lekan Basua, a Morehouse College graduate from Lagos, Nigeria, who previously founded a furniture and interior design business that reached into the hundreds of millions in revenues.
Meanwhile, the founders of Drofika, which offers cities, companies and institutions a platform for renting computing power, and Skymul, which is building an artificial-intelligence-powered vision system for drones that could help save lives in disaster situations, hail from the United Kingdom and India, respectively.
Ernesto Escobar, a Santiago, Chile, native who many in the local startup world know for his work on international entrepreneurial programs at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, also has a startup enrolled in The Farm’s program: Fanaticus, which combines hardware and software to provide immersive, mixed-reality experiences for fans at sporting events.
Even before introducing its second cohort, The Farm had already sought to raise its profile among international investors as Atlanta grows in stature as a global tech hub. In the first class, The Farm welcomed teams from Canada and South Korea. One participant from the first demo day in May, SmartTones, is already raising money in Toronto to support its operations in Hong Kong.
The Farm also announced in May that it would partner with Berlin-based LeAD, a German sports startup accelerator and investment fund with ties to the family that founded sportswear maker Adidas, local tech publication Hypepotamus reported. Even before that partnership, Atlanta-based Evolve Sports, for instance, took part in the LeAD program in Berlin, showing how both sides can use relationships to help companies extend their transatlantic reach among customers and investors. (LeAD stands for “Legacy of Adi Dassler.” Adidas, meanwhile, is set to open a highly automated “Speedfactory” feted as the future of footwear manufacturing in Cherokee County.)
See the full list of nine companies pitching at Friday’s Demo Day, from The Farm’s press release:
- Culturebase is an AI-powered mobile discovery platform for travelers and locals to discover and consume hidden unique and authentic culture in cities, including local experiences, art, fashion, music and food. culturebase.city
- Drofika leverages distributed, underutilized computing power within enterprise hardware devices and cryptomining equipment to deliver cheaper and faster computing to anyone, including enterprises, IoT devices, and Smart Cities. fog. drofika.co
- Fanaticus brings mixed reality to the masses through immersive experiences leveraging unique hardware and software to bring fans exactly what they want – extraordinary experiences at ordinary prices, close to home. fanaticusxr.com
- FlexSpace is the hassle-free option for companies to visualize, budget, design, and manage their workplace so the space fits the company timeline, budget, and culture. flexspace.io
- Kilter Rewards enables employers to donate to employee chosen causes when employees complete daily health goals. This increases employee wellness engagement and leads to greater employee retention rates and reductions in absenteeism costs. kilterrewards.com
- OurErrands is a platform for corporate HR teams to offer personalized concierge services to relocating candidates, affording corporations a competitive advantage, while increasing employeeproductivityandretentionrates. Ourerrands.com
- Rap Plug is a discovery, collaboration, and monetization platform that streamlines the process for artists, fans, entrepreneurs, and creators of hip hop to connect, communicate, and exchange goods and services while being “plugged” with content and resources to boost their career. rapplug.com
- Soundcollide is a decentralized recording label that allows music artists to create, protect, and publish their music through remote collaboration and data processing on the blockchain in real-time. soundcollide.com
- SkyMul builds cutting edge drone and computer vision technologies to solve large, previously unaddressed industrial-sized problems, reducing cost, time and risk for construction companies. skymul.com
Demo Day pitches will be held at 5-8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9 at the Coca-Cola Roxy at 800 Battery Avenue Southeast #500 Atlanta, GA 30339. Learn more and sign up here.