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Startup TechWire reports on business, innovation, and education for America's vibrant startup community.
Blog Added: November 30, 2016 01:10:20 PM
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Engage Ventures Begins Accepting Applications to Fund and Help Startups Go to Market

ATLANTA -- Engage Ventures, an independent early stage venture fund, announced that it has opened its application process for Fall 2017. Engage Ventures is the largest-ever strategic grouping of major corporations in an independent venture firm. Investments from the $15 million fund will be uniquely focused to help new companies finance and formulate their go-to-market strategies and gain access to customers and distribution. Companies accepted to the highly selective three-month Engage program will receive $75K in initial seed funding. In subsequent financing rounds, Engage will co-invest larger amounts in portfolio companies. Companies can apply directly at

The firm’s founding partners include 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. Tech Square Ventures will manage the fund, and Engage will leverage services in partnership with the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech.

In addition to funding, the corporations will contribute time, mentorship, expertise and other resources to portfolio companies. This will give startups the ability to work closely with executives from leading brands to accelerate their go-to-market strategies and achieve scale more quickly. The corporate partner CEOs and other senior leadership will also take an active role on the Engage Board of Directors.

“The robust level of participation from leading corporations will help ensure Engage’s success by providing a world-class experience for high-potential startups,” said Martin L. Flanagan, President and CEO of Invesco. “We’re also excited about the shared innovation and learning opportunities across the diverse group of corporations involved.”

Engage Ventures recently appointed Thiago Olson as its first Managing Director. Olson is an entrepreneur, acclaimed physicist and venture partner at Tech Square Ventures.

“The core mission of Engage Ventures is to help emerging companies get their products to market. We have an incredible lineup of Fortune 1000 companies, CEOs and executives who will dedicate their talent and resources to help our entrepreneurs achieve their visions,” said Olson. “Our pooled investment model for corporations is quite novel; it will let Engage maintain investment independence, while at the same time empowering startups to choose their own best path forward.”

Engage Ventures maintains its physical offices in Georgia Tech’s Tech Square in Atlanta, giving founders a place to work alongside other entrepreneurs who are intent on transforming markets as part of the Engage portfolio.

Engage Ventures is an independent early stage venture fund and program that gives startups what they need most – customer and market access. Engage startups come from around the world to work with top executives from leading brands, includingAT&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. 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 also provides access to thought leaders and workshops that help entrepreneurs tackle their biggest challenges, as well as office space where founders work with other entrepreneurs who are transforming their markets. Headquartered in Georgia Tech’s Technology Square, Engage is led by Managing Director Thiago Olson. For more information,

Kristopher Kovacs Named CEO of Constellation Digital Partners, LLC

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Constellation Digital Partners, LLC has officially named its Founder, Kristopher Kovacs, CEO of the new company. Constellation launched May 2 and Kovacs has been serving as the interim leader until very recently, when the credit union service organization (CUSO) board formally offered him the CEO position. Kovacs holds more than 25 years of experience in credit union operations and technology.

The concept for Constellation was born out of necessity. Kovacs realized there was a fundamental problem in modern digital financial services. Despite a recent boom of potential financial technology partners, credit unions cannot access them because of the legacy structure of credit union relationships with current digital banking providers.

Constellation is designed to deliver a revolutionary software platform solution that will transform the future of digital banking for credit unions and members. Constellation is building out its cloud-based financial services marketplace and platform that will allow credit unions and members to choose which services to use inside of a secure banking experience.

To date, nine partners spanning nationwide and totaling $12 billion in assets, have committed to investing in the platform. The partners are Coastal Credit Union, CFCU Community Credit Union, Meritrust Credit Union, Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union, Georgia’s Own Credit Union, Affinity Federal Credit Union and Nusenda Credit Union.

Combined, the credit unions represent a significant user base of more than 1.1 million members. Constellation is continuing to offer investment opportunities to make ownership of the platform more accessible for a variety of credit unions. The initial credit union investors are being joined by CO-OP Financial Services and CUNA Mutual, who are also investing in the new CUSO.

In addition, the marketplace will create a new service-based economy where interested digital service developers can also get involved and become service providers and partners on the new platform. Developers can create tiles or services, then credit unions can seek out and select services within the marketplace. Nine service provider partners are already on board: Telrock, Connect Financial Software Solutions, Obloco, Corporate One Federal Credit Union, Gro Solutions, Xtensifi, Insuritas, QuarterSpot, and Narmi.

To learn more about Constellation or get involved, visit

Coastal Credit Union and eight partners are developing a secure and flexible cloud-based marketplace that enables upper to mid-tier credit unions and innovative app developers to provide safe, reliable, and next-generation digital financial service experiences while giving the freedom to compete, innovate, and thrive in the financial services industry. Constellation will redefine what credit unions offer, delivering digital financial services in a way that enables them to place members at the center of their business strategy.

The Coca-Cola Company Commercialization Program Welcomes New Corporate Partners, Doubles Number of Participating Startups

ATLANTA -- BridgeCommunity is a unique nurturing and commercialization program that connects early-stage tech startups with global corporations. The program recently announced an expansion of their program for a second North American cohort. BridgeCommunity is designed to engineer and accelerate startup and corporate relationships. Startups receive world-class enterprise sales, marketing, and negotiations training to understand corporate innovation needs. Corporations are coached on minimizing roadblocks to streamline pilots and simplify contracts, and the BridgeCommunity team makes targeted introductions and mediates relationships.

As a part of their commitment to developing the Atlanta startup ecosystem, the commercialization program cultivates local startups, draws national and international startups, provides actionable education to both partners, and has launched a local community initiative to help raise the technical skill level in Atlanta from high-school onwards. This first-class program is leading the way for Atlanta to be a known location for innovation.

This year’s corporate roster adds Porsche North America and SunTrust Bank to the lineup from 2016, including Capgemini, Coca-Cola, COX Enterprises, InterContinental Hotels Group, The Weather Company.

The program also significantly increased their startup recruitment for the 2017 cohort resulting in triple the number of applications and double the number of participating startups compared to last year. Starting this month, 22 startups will gain access to a heavy-hitting list of corporations motivated to build relationships, run pilots, and enter licensing agreements during the six month program based in Atlanta.

“We are excited and honored to welcome two new community-minded corporate partners to the BridgeCommunity. Porsche Financial Services and SunTrust Bank’s proactive approach to innovation serves as a great complement to our returning corporate members. With a growing corporate membership base, expanding verticals of focus, the addition of platform evangelists, a broadening startup pool and the launch of our community initiatives, 2017 is poised to be a significant step forwards for this program and for Atlanta,” said Anthony Newstead, The Coca-Cola Company Director and Founder of BridgeCommunity.

The Bridge began in 2014 as a collaboration between The Coca-Cola Company and the entrepreneurial tech community in Tel Aviv, Israel. A total of 30 companies have gone through the program over the last three years and 12 more were recently selected for The Bridge’s fourth class. Over the next seven months, these startups will commercialize their solutions with guidance from Coca-Cola, Turner and Mercedes-Benz.

The Bridge's North American spin-off, the BridgeCommunity, is a unique program that grows the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Atlanta through startup engagement, partnerships, a powerful corporate member-to-member network and a local community initiative to help raise the technical skill level from high school onwards.

The first BridgeCommunity cohort, which included 10 startups and five corporations, sparked nine pilots and proof-of-concepts. During the program, participating startups collectively hired 32 new employees, experienced an average increase of 150% in month over month revenue, and raised $2.9M in VC funding.

Startup TechWire | Reporting on business, innovation, and education for America's vibrant startup community | David Menzies | 919-274-6862 | Writer and Public Relations Consultant | Editor |

Alicia Maciel Named NHBWA Business Woman of the Year

NORTH TUSTIN, Calif. -- As Executive Director of The Prentice School, a private, nonprofit, nonpublic (NPS) academic school, which offers unparalleled learning experiences to bright students with learning differences, Alicia Maciel knows the importance of the role education plays in the communities and businesses. As a respected Harvard business graduate, she believes that people are a business’s strongest asset, which is one of the reasons she has been chosen to be honored by the National Hispanic Business Women Association with The NHBWA Woman of the Year Award for her commitment to community service and education.

NHBWA says the luncheon serves as a platform to recognize outstanding individuals for their professional achievements and their contributions to the community.

Maciel will receive this prestigious award at the association’s 17th Annual Women of the Year Awards and Scholarship Luncheon on May 25th.

 “I feel so strongly about NHBWA’s mission to help support and promote Hispanic women-owned businesses and am honored to be a recipient of this award,” Maciel said. “Hispanic women-owned businesses have a very large impact to the overall economy. In fact, they are the fastest growing subset of women-owned businesses in the U.S. employing 550,400 US workers in 2016. Before becoming executive director, I had my own business and as a Hispanic businesswoman myself I know the challenges of starting your own business. Mentorship, education and community support are an important aspect of helping people succeed.“

The 2016 State of Women-Owned Business Report reports that Hispanic women-owned businesses lead the way among ethnic businesswomen by starting over 1.9 million businesses that generated over $97 billion in revenue for 2016.

Maciel was nominated for this honor by The Prentice School board member and Wells Fargo SVP of National Diverse Segments Director Patty Juarez because of “the leadership she has shown as The Prentice School’s executive director and the numerous positive changes she has made at the school.”

“I am so happy to see Alicia honored,” Juarez added. “She is a committed, effective leader with incredible leadership abilities. I’m amazed at the work she does every day.”

“For the future of business to succeed, you need the right people to do the job which is why education and community are so important together. If you don’t have the right people, you can’t have a successful business. Education shapes and creates the path for people’s future, making sure our community and business communities are strong,” Maciel added. “Hispanic women in business can give you 97 billion reasons why that matters.”

To that point, the NHBWA awards educational scholarships to students pursuing a college education in an effort to develop the next generation of leaders. The awards ceremony is attended by over 200 community leaders, corporate representatives, business owners and students.

As the executive director of The Prentice School, which has transformed the lives of thousands of students with learning differences such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, ADHD, anxiety, and visual processing and executive function disorders, Maciel has dedicated herself to leading and challenging new ways for an educated and prosperous future for all of her students, despite any challenges. She is completely aligned with NHBWA’s mission to encourage women to develop their business and professional goals through education and mutual support.

Parents and donors, as well as educational and healthcare professionals, interested in learning more about Alicia Maciel and The Prentice School should visit for additional information.

Founded in 1986, The Prentice School is a private, nonprofit academic school located in North Tustin, California and is a certified nonpublic school (NPS) through the California Department of Education and is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The Prentice approach is designed to engage students on three learning pathways, including auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Using evidence-based curriculum and instructional methodologies, a structured literacy approach, multi-sensory instructional strategies, and ongoing progress monitoring, The Prentice School offers an unparalleled learning experience to students with learning differences who possess average-to-high intelligence, whose needs have not been met in a more traditional classroom setting.

Startup TechWire | Reporting on business, innovation, and education for America's vibrant startup community | David Menzies | 919-274-6862 | Writer and Public Relations Consultant | Editor |

Virtual Business Coaching Company Empowers Female Entrepreneurs

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. -- Have BIGplans, LLC is the first virtual business coaching company of its kind; empowering women to take the plunge into entrepreneurship and guiding established entrepreneurs toward prosperity. “I want to eliminate the barriers that prevent entrepreneurs, especially women, from fulfilling their dreams,” explains Kavita Sahai, CEO and founder of Have BIGplans, LLC. “Because it is my belief that everyone should have a life and business powered with passion and purpose, it’s my goal to help entrepreneurs to grow their company, simplify their systems and workflow, and ensure they never feel alone in their business.”

Every certified business coach at Have BIGplans has had a successful business outside of their coaching practices; ensuring their knowledge extends beyond the classroom. Their coaches have the personal experience of taking a company from zero to profitability, with the education and training to guide small business owners to achieve their own successes.

Virtual business coaching from Have BIGplans is also significantly more affordable and accessible than traditional business coaching. One of the most common reasons business owners don’t obtain such support and guidance is its high cost and daunting barriers. Have BIGplans changes that by charging $50 per week (billed monthly) for unlimited consultations. Clients can cancel their subscription at any time.

For $50 per week, clients receive:

Daily check-ins;

Unlimited messaging;

Accountability and expert advice;

Weekly updates of priorities and important tasks.

In addition, live video/audio sessions can be added-on as needed. For business owners requiring greater support, affordable packages are available with more extensive offerings.

Why Have BIGplans matters for female entrepreneurs:

Entrepreneurship was once considered a man's domain, but the tide has shifted: In recent years, the rate of female entrepreneurs has been growing at a percentage at least double that of their male counterparts. Economists and academics agree that female entrepreneurs are an under-tapped force that can significantly rekindle economic expansion. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, women currently own 36 percent of all businesses, and the numbers keep soaring.

HaveBIGplans virtually, conveniently and affordably connects entrepreneurs with certified business coaches. As the first-ever text business coaching platform, Have BIGplans has revolutionized the business coaching industry by providing unparalleled dialog between certified business coaches and small business owners in the digital age. Founded with the mission to promote economic growth by helping small business owners, especially women, to build a business that fuels their soul and their bank account, Have BIGplans works with businesses large and small, new and established, in many different industries. For more information, please visit

Startup TechWire | Reporting on business, innovation, and education for America's vibrant startup community | David Menzies | 919-274-6862 | Writer and Public Relations Consultant | Editor |

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