Atento Capital Launches $100 Million Fund to Support Overlooked Heartland Tech Entrepreneurs
Tulsa-based Atento Capital seeks to drive inclusive development for historically underinvested people, places, and ideas
Fund will provide an average of $1 million plus dedicated mentorship, capacity building and networking support
TULSA, OK – April 27, 2023 – Atento Capital, a Tulsa-based venture capital firm focused on unlocking unsung potential, today announced the launch of its $100 million fund investing in early-stage tech startups. Backed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, a multibillion-dollar family foundation that supports a wide-range of entrepreneurial activities in the Tulsa region, the new fund reflects Atento Capital’s founding mission to support overlooked communities and provide a new model for inclusive growth that combines a philanthropic approach with marketplace objectives. The fund will deploy checks ranging between $250,000 and $3,000,000.
“For far too long, venture capital has underinvested in female founders, founders of color, and founders based in places like America’s Heartland, which are brimming untapped entrepreneurial potential,” said Michael Basch, Founder and General Partner at Atento Capital. “With this new fund, we aim to continue doing our part to support the next generation of tech founders and help enable a more inclusive economy here in our hometown of Tulsa. ”
The challenges faced by the founders Atento Capital seeks to fund are well documented. Each year, 75% of venture fund capital goes to California, New York, and Massachusetts. Last year, financial instability led VC support for Black entrepreneurs to drop 45%. Meanwhile, according to Pitchbook, U.S. startups with all-women teams received just 1.9 percent of all venture capital allocated in 2022, a meaningful drop from the 2.4 percent that all-women teams raised in 2021.
Atento Capital focuses on identifying high-potential ideas and individuals at the forefront of innovation that have faced underinvestment. Of the $128 million in total capital that Atento Capital has committed since 2020, 48% has been invested in underinvested founders and GPs at other VCs. Unlike most VC firms, Atento Capital takes a high-touch approach to supporting its portfolio companies, providing access to financial, human and social capital. Examples include connections to potential follow-on investors, dedicated business development support, and access to regional organizations like inTulsa, which provide ready access to a diverse pool of local talent.
Atento Capital’s core fund will support Tulsa’s burgeoning tech economy, including lead investments in RobbieAI, a computer vision platform to prevent patient injuries related to falls and PatchRx, a remote therapeutic management platform that helps patients take medication on time.
"Our mission at Robbie A.I. is to transform the way businesses approach customer service through advanced conversational AI,” said Karen Marquez, Co-founder & CEO of RobbieAI. “We're thrilled to have Atento Capital among our investors and to join Tulsa’s burgeoning tech ecosystem, which will enable us to access the industry expertise and resources necessary to expand our vision for a safer future for patients.”
“At PatchRx, we are constantly seeking new ways to promote better health outcomes for patients and better insights for providers,” said Andrew Aertker, Founder of PatchRx. “For the past few years, we have been fortunate to work alongside Atento Capital and the beneficiary of its invaluable support. We are excited to continue working with the Atento Capital team as we scale our business and innovate in this field."
This new fund builds upon Atento Capital’s previous investments in other rapidly growing Heartland startups, such as ed tech company Boddle. Launched in 2018 by Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan, originally from Ghana and Singapore, respectively, Boddle has raised $5 million and expanded its gamified education platform to more than 4 million students, with more than 10,000 students signing up per weekday.
Traditionally associated with oil and gas, in recent years Tulsa has enjoyed unprecedented growth in technology and SaaS, Advanced Aerial Mobility and Aerospace, Analytics, Cyber Security, and Virtual Health. As a result, employment in its tech sector has grown 23.9% since 2015, compared to a national average of just 8.9%.
Read more from Jessica Matthews at Fortune - here
About Atento Capital
Atento Capital is a Tulsa-based venture capital firm focused on unlocking unsung potential in early-stage founders through providing access to venture capital, human capital and expanded professional networks. Atento Capital has created pathways to upward mobility and helped dozens of companies and entrepreneurs thrive in Tulsa’s tech ecosystem by democratizing access to venture capital for traditionally underinvested groups of people.