Venture fund with the largest number of Fortune 1000 corporate investors backs two trucking startups — FreightWaves

August 19, 2017 Brian Straight

Engage Ventures, the largest strategic grouping of major corporations and brands in an independent venture fund, has made two investments in the trucking sector.

One is in Sudu, an on-demand and scheduled trucking services that utilizes big data, predictive analytics and machine learning to connect companies that ship freight with a network of trucks and diverse carriers.  The second is TransRisk, a provider of financial instruments and data-analytics for the trucking space. Both companies have raised money from other sources, prior to accepting investment from Engage.

Engage Ventures is an independent venture fund, powered by ten Fortune 1000 corporations, focused on giving entrepreneurs access to customers/partners and refining their go-to-market strategy. It was setup as a private-public partnership with the goal to create a world-class investment fund that also breaks down traditional barriers between the world’s largest corporations with early-stage startups. There are ten corporate investors in the fund that include AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Inc., Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco Ltd., Tech Square Ventures, The Home Depot and UPS.

The corporate partners not only contribute capital- they also contribute resources in the form of executive sponsorship, resources, and tools, getting in the trenches to help the companies commercialize their products.

“Our mission is to strengthen collaboration and partnership between leading corporations and top entrepreneurs in high growth companies. What makes Engage unique is the level of access and interaction with our founding corporate partners at the executive and C-suite to help streamline partnerships and strategic relationships with these startups and growth companies.”— Thiago Olson, Managing Director of Engage Ventures

Unlike a traditional corporate accelerator or investment fund, Engage portfolio companies are not restricted by corporate sponsors in any commercial or investment activities. The goal is to help the portfolio companies gain an edge in the market and navigate large corporate enterprises outside of the normal vendor selection and procurement  processes that can prove daunting for early-stage startups.

Each corporate partner is required to have C-level executive sponsorship and access, helping champion the startup through the corporate culture. Engage-backed startups not only hope to walk away with commercial relationships, they also intend to benefit from guidance on how to create enterprise level product offerings.

Amari Ruff, CEO of Sudu stated: “Engage is setting a foundation for startups to gain major insight and mentorship from some of the world’s largest corporations. It’s really exciting to be apart of the Inaugural set of startups.”

Georgia Tech is also provides access to university faculty, resources and facilities. Each startup is given office space inside of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), which houses a number of startups and hosts events for the startup and tech communities across the Southeastern US. By having access to Georgia Tech’s campus, startups are able to take advantage of the massive amount of brain-power and resources in the community.

For digital logistics startups, Georgia Tech is perhaps the best University for these companies to partner with. The University boasts the following rankings that make it super-appealing for a tech enabled logistics startup:

#1 Industrial Engineering Program

#6 Computer Engineering Program

#6 Supply-chain and logistics program

#6 Quantitative Analysis Program

#9 Management Information Systems

“I became familiar with Engage a few months ago while visiting with Georgia Tech’s Supply-Chain & Logistics Institute. I had been looking for ways to partner with the school to gain access to world-class quants and build out our econometrics and data-science team. When I heard that the University has partnered with ten of the world’s largest corporations to build a venture fund, I became immediately interested in pursuing an investment from Engage.” Craig Fuller, CEO of TransRisk stated.

It also doesn’t hurt that both Sudu and TransRisk could potentially walk away with large clients and partners among the corporates that have needs in the areas the companies serve:

UPS is the world’s largest freight transportation firm and uses outsourced purchased transportation for part of their network needs.

Home Depot is one of the largest truckload shippers and depends on a transparent supply-chain technology to respond to customer-demand and to ensure that it has enough capacity to maintain consistency in store supplies.

Georgia Pacific, a division of Koch Industries and one of the largest truckload shippers with a purchased transportation budget exceeding $1 billion dollars.

Chick-fil-A runs its own trucking network and invests in supply-chain visibility and transparency systems.

Delta Airlines, which has a large airfreight and road-feeder network and also hedges fuel.

Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), one of the world’s largest financial exchanges and market data providers. ICE started out at as a cold-start exchange only two decades ago and now is one of the world’s largest financial exchanges and parent of the New York Stock Exchange.

Additionally, Invesco is a near-trillion capital markets firm in AUM; AT&T brings enormous investments in telematics and a breadth of digital assets; Cox Enterprises, is a leader in digital media and other assets; and Georgia Power as a leading electricity provider.

“As an entrepreneur, I’m excited to help launch the Engage Ventures program with this inaugural set of companies from a diverse range of sectors. The program is geared toward unlocking these companies’ value and their potential so they can invest, hire and grow.  My colleagues at ICE and I look forward to contributing to these efforts.” stated Jeffrey Sprecher, Founder and Chairman of ICE.

Source: Venture fund with the largest number of Fortune 1000 corporate investors backs two trucking startups — FreightWaves

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