Atento Capital, a venture capital firm based in Tulsa, has launched 412 Angels, a first-of-its-kind angel investing program that will help educate new investors and support early-stage start-ups in the corridor connecting Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas.
Atento Capital will partner with the Northwest Arkansas Council, the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation on the effort, with the goal of increasing the total number of angel investors — high net-worth individuals who invest in seed an early-stage start-ups — who are contributing to the success and growth of start-ups in the region, according to a press release.
The launch marks another step in a collective quest to build one of the most competitive tech economies in the country within the NWA-Tulsa region, with strengths in e-commerce, supply chain, energy tech and transportation. Earlier this year, the state announced the creation of the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility with a goal to make the state a leader in the next generation of transportation, including flying cars, driverless vehicles and drones.
Electric vehicle manufacturer Canoo recently moved its corporate headquarters to Bentonville and announced that it would build plants and other facilities in Northwest Arkansas and northeastern Oklahoma.
“By helping more local leaders become angel investors, we will only deepen our region’s ability to support, launch, and scale early-stage startups. It is our hope that this network can serve as an introduction to our tech scene, and ultimately help new investors advise local startups, help traditionally underinvested founders attract new funding, or even found companies of their own,” said Atento Capital Managing Partner Michael Basch. “With a robust angel network, top-tier educational programs, and established local companies like Walmart, J.B. Hunt, Tyson Food and BOK Financial, which are eager to partner with new startups, our region has all of the ingredients to develop a thriving tech ecosystem.”
412 Angels will build a network of leaders across the corridor, including corporate leaders, successful high-growth startup founders, academics and members of the investment community through a series of educational sessions and direct learning opportunities.
The network will provide program participants with the following services:
- Teaching the fundamentals of angel investing through educational resources.
- Connecting investors across the region through in-person networking events.
- Providing access to high-quality investment opportunities vetted through Atento Capital’s both local and national deal flow and due diligence process.
“This partnership is an important step towards the long-held goal of bridging the Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa communities through venture capital,” said Nelson Peacock, President and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council.“A sophisticated network of angel investors in the heartland will attract innovative startup companies and entrepreneurs and bolster the growing economies in both regions.”
The fund was named as an homage to Route 412, the road that connects the two neighboring regions, and made its formal debut last week at Thaden Fieldhouse in Bentonville.