In a technology-driven society there is always a new venture just around the corner. It’s a race to keep up with new technology as entrepreneurs launch new businesses by the minute in different fields such as social networking, hardware, health IT, beauty, electronics, and fashion. The Core Venture Studio (@TheCoreVentures) and its four co-founders have found a wide open opportunity that intersects media, entertainment, and technology. They are creating a new hands on approach to building new businesses in the South. By bringing their unique disciplines together, they’re creating something new and transcendent of technology and media. Black Enterprise caught up with the partners of The Core to learn more about their groundbreaking vision.
BlackEnterprise.com: What’s the mission of Core Venture Studio?
Our focus is really at the intersection of technology and entertainment. A lot of the traditional distribution channels and production companies are trying to figure out this digital publishing thing, like Netflix and YouTube. We think there’s a really cool inflection point happening right now, which is the integration of content and media. When you take our collective talents and put them together we believe we’re really well positioned to lead this new intersection, this place where technology and entertainment meet. In Atlanta today, there are many startup companies and not a lot of capital and so it is not only our mission to provide capital but we also want to foster relationships. Together, we form the nucleus of a company that produces, invests in and acquires startup companies in much the same way a movie studio does with films.
What are your individual roles and expertise for The Core?
James Harris: I’m a serial entrepreneur and I’ve been building companies since I was in high school. I help evaluate where businesses are and get down to brass tacks of what needs to be done.
Anthony Gee: I was a VC (venture capitalist) in New York when there weren’t many African American VCs present. Because my background is in finance and venture capital I’m focused on financing the companies, understanding what they need to reach the next level from a monetary standpoint.
Chidi Afulezi: I’m considered the product guy—the one who figures out what we’re building and get it done. I’ve worked with some amazing companies like Sony and Turner and have a love for connected devices.
Guy Primus: I’ve worked with many prominent people and brands like Starbucks, Microsoft, and Will Smith, helping him run his production company. I look at strategy and processes to refine a way to get from point A to where we want to be. I also serve as Chairman of Georgia Tech’s School of Industrial and Systems Engineering Advisory Board.
What is the process for a startup that’s interested in working with The Core?
You can find us on the Web (www.thecoreventures.com) so that’s a great place to follow us on social media and tell us a little about what you’re working on. At this point, we’re not in a mode of looking for inbound business plans, but specifically focused on building relationships. We have concentric circles that we like to refer to – people who are in our gravity zone that we’re connecting with, mentoring, and advising. As we are talking about these concentric circles, our goal is to grow these circles to a larger degree. As we do that we have more relationship based introductions that benefit the companies we work with. Even in traditional VC circle it’s at least a warm introduction that leads to a sincere conversation. We are at the place now where we’re building more and more relationships and those will probably be the people that we get to know and want to help in some form or fashion.
Where does The Core fit inside of the ecosystem comprised by startups in Atlanta and how will you leverage these opportunities?
There is a maturing startup and tech ecosystem that’s really starting to blossom. You look at companies like Kabbage, they just pulled in 300 million dollars. You look at what Paul Judge is doing in cyber security, he’s rolling out companies every 6 months in the cyber security space. We think that maturity breeds new opportunity and great talent. They’ll sell a company, run out looking for another venture to get into, and hopefully we can help them do that. We’re sitting in a building where across the street Georgia Tech is building a high capacity computer center and providing great engineers and software students. SCAD has all types of talent in the arts. The Atlanta University Center (AUC) comprised of great HBCUs like Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta is a promising talent pool for the startup community here. It’s also becoming less expensive to do business here. You don’t have to import someone from NYC to get things done. Now, they live right around the corner. With these new trends, it enhances the idea of fashioning together resources in a valuable way that can generate a lot of money. We also see our studio tapping into the vibrant entertainment industry. Atlanta is a growing city that is poised with the potential to change the trajectory of economic growth and become the major tech center that it’s positioned to be.
Ten years down the road, how do you see Atlanta growing now that The Core has been established?
We see Atlanta as home but it’s just part of the overall mix. We truly have a global mindset. Our vision is to revolutionize the way people produce, discover, and enjoy great content. Atlanta has great success stories, such as TBS and what Ted Turner built with cable, which wasn’t the thriving technology of its day. We’re sincerely looking into who is going to represent African Americans and other minorities in this new digital media. Chidi spent time in Africa and he’s brought relationships to some of the businesses that we’re working on now. Guy has a global perspective, particularly on the entertainment side with his background. Because of our work and extensive experience in entrepreneurship, finance, and technology, we have the network and resources to be major creators in the new wave of digital media.
Candace Mitchell (@loveCandyV) is co-founder and CEO of Techturized Inc., enabling hair care personalization capabilities in the market for female consumers around the world. As a computer scientist and fellow coder, she spends her time in the lab working on the company’s first product, Myavana— a mobile social platform for black hair care, available on iOS and Android.