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New Venture Fund Backs Underserved, Academic Start-Ups

Investor screen

(Stephen Dawson, Unsplash)

8 Feb. 2021. A new $300 million venture capital fund is underway that aims to support technology start-ups often left behind by larger mainstream investors. Panoramic Ventures, the fund’s manager based in Atlanta, says it plans to support new early-stage technology enterprises starting in the U.S. South and Midwest, particularly companies started by women and people in underserved races and ethnic groups, and businesses formed by university faculty and students.

The new venture fund, with $300 million to invest, is a joint project of Atlanta-based BIP Capital and entrepreneur-investor Paul Judge. Panoramic Ventures is the new name for BIP Capital’s venture capital division, with Judge and BIP Capital co-founder Mark Buffington as Panoramic’s managing partners.

The Panoramic fund intends to fill financing gaps left behind by top-of-the-line technology venture investors. Panoramic cites data from the latest quarterly MoneyTree report showing only 14 percent of venture funding goes to the Southeast and Midwest regions in the U.S., despite having 36 percent of the Inc. 5,000 fastest growing companies with a median growth rate of 161 percent.

“Our intent at Panoramic,” says Buffington in a company statement released through Cision, “is to take a wider-view approach to investing in order to give more entrepreneurs access to both capital and expertise to help build leading tech companies, regardless of geographic location.”

In addition, Panoramic Ventures expects to support women and minority entrepreneurs. The company cites data from Pitchbook showing women founders receive less than three percent of venture capital funding, while Black-founded companies, according to Harvard Business Review, receive less than one percent.

Supporting university start-ups

“After years of building companies as an entrepreneur and angel investor,” notes Judge, “I felt that I could have a greater impact by working with more founders, which is why we created Panoramic Ventures. As a minority who has built companies outside of the traditional tech hubs, I know what it is like to be an overlooked founder.”

Likewise, the Panoramic fund plans to finance technology start-ups founded by university faculty and students, both graduate and undergraduate. According to National Science Foundation, says Panoramic, universities conducted $83 billion in research and development during the 2019 fiscal year, with university labs spawning thousands of new enterprises each year. Metropolitan Atlanta alone, says the company, is home to major institutions like Georgia Tech and Emory University, as well as historically Black colleges and universities, with some 300,000 students.

The Panoramic fund plans to invest in start-ups developing software and software-enabled services, by funding early-stage rounds: seed, A, and B. The company says its 24-member team has experience investing in more than 200 start-ups working in enterprise software-as-a-service, health care IT, financial IT, digital media, development tools, and cyber security, among others.

Moreover, Panoramic intends to share its entrepreneurial expertise as well as financing with new businesses. Panoramic is offering a Founders Success Program that connects new entrepreneurs with Fortune 500 executives for mentoring and  assistance in areas such as hiring, market research, sales, and customer relationships.

Panoramic Ventures joins other investment funds formed in the past two years that support new enterprises often overlooked by mainstream venture investors. As reported by Science & Enterprise, Capital Access Labs is funding start-ups that do not meet the usual criteria for venture financing, and Revolution in Washington, D.C. is funding tech start-ups outside the major tech hubs in the U.S.

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