The ‘Godfather of Atlanta tech’ is helping founders eschew Silicon Valley by raising the largest fund in the Southeast

The 'Godfather of Atlanta tech' is helping founders eschew Silicon Valley by raising the largest fund in the Southeast thumbnail
  • Investor Paul Judge has partnered with BIP Capital to found a $300 million fund. 
  • The fund’s mission is to support diverse founders in the Southeast and Midwest.
  • “The region is ready for a fund of this scale to invest in companies across stages from Seed to Series B,” Judge told Insider.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Paul Judge is a busy man. He’s earned the moniker “Godfather of Atlanta’s tech scene” by founding companies like Luma Home and Purewire, as well as investing in startups across the Southeast.

Now he’s partnering with Atlanta-based BIP Capital and is out raising money for Panoramic Ventures, a new fund with a $300 million goal and the mission of supporting diverse founders outside of Silicon Valley. 

“Atlanta and the Southeast have been on a tear for the last decade with the growth of tech startups,” Judge told Insider. “The region is ready for a fund of this scale to invest in companies across stages from Seed to Series B.”

Judge has been in the VC world for years as a founder of early stage venture fund TechSquare Labs. He’s also on the investment committee for the SoftBank Opportunity Fund, the $100 million fund launched by the investing giant in mid 2020 to back companies founded by people of color.

If Panoramic Ventures reaches its targeted $300 million, it will be the largest venture fund in the Southeast. It already has verbal commitments of about $125 million, a spokesperson told Insider.

The fund will also focus on companies based in the Southeast and Midwest, which Mark Buffington, cofounder of Panoramic Ventures and BIP Capital, means it will be making a conscious effort to find overlooked opportunities.

“You no longer have to headquarter your startup in Silicon Valley to raise money, which is evidenced by the unicorns that the Southeast has produced over the past six months alone,” Buffington said. 

He’s referring to companies like Calendly and Greenlight Financial, who achieved billion-dollar valuations. In general, Atlanta has emerged in recent years as a burgeoning tech hotspot. Last year, the city completed nearly 100 angel and seed deals for the first time in over half a decade, according to Pitchbook. Atlanta also landed at number eight on our list of cities outside Silicon Valley to start your business. 

Buffington says the fund will invest across all stages in order to “uncover opportunity early and accelerate growth.” 

The fund has a particular emphasis on supporting diverse founders. Less than one percent of venture capital funding goes to Black founders, and less than three percent goes to female founders, research shows.

Judge said he’s eager to use his experience as a long-time investor in diverse founders, as well as his personal experience as a Black entrepreneur. 

“It is important for diverse founders to see someone that looks like them on the other side of the table. Someone that has common experiences,” he said. “This is how we unlock access to the tremendous wealth-building potential of the tech industry for a wider range of people.”

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