Amazon Catalytic Capital—which was announced in October 2022—is an investment fund with a commitment to invest $150 million in venture capital (VC) funds, accelerators, incubators, and venture studios that provide funding to entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, such as Black, Latino/a/x, Indigenous, women, and LGBTQIA+ founders.
Amazon Catalytic Capital just announced it has invested in four new venture capital funds, bringing its total portfolio to eight funds. At its launch, Amazon announced that it expected to support more than 10 funds and over 200 companies through the next year, and it’s on pace to meet or exceed those targets.
Amazon Catalytic Capital’s new portfolio funds include the following funds:
Exceptional Capital—led by Marell Evans and Andrew Van Nest. Exceptional is a pre-seed and seed-stage venture firm focusing on being the first investor for B2B software startups in the U.S. and up to 15% globally. Exceptional is based in Miami, Florida.
Growth Warrior Capital (GWC)—led by Promise Phelon. GWC is a venture capital fund striving for a world where Economic Sovereignty is the new standard. GWC invests at the seed and Series A stages, focusing on startups building equitable solutions in AI/ML, fintech, and future of work. GWC is based in Austin, Texas.
Heirloom—led by Tristan Walker. Heirloom is a venture capital fund investing in early-stage companies committed to developing culturally-connected products and services that improve lives and serve the needs of people of color, the Emerging Majority—the most economically significant and least-served consumer population in American history. Heirloom is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Artemis Fund—led by Stephanie Campbell, Leslie Goldman Tepper, and Diana Murakhovskaya. Artemis is a venture capital firm on a mission to diversify the face of wealth. Artemis invests at the seed stage, focusing on companies led by women founders and innovating in fintech, e-commerce tech, and care tech. Artemis is based in Houston, Texas.
“Amazon Catalytic Capital and broader Amazon agree with our mission of empowering companies led by diverse and female founders and changing the way we work, earn, and build wealth for these communities,” said Promise Phelon, founder and managing partner of Growth Warrior Capital. “We are excited to work with Amazon Catalytic Capital to continue our model of going beyond capital in the support we give our founders.”
In addition, since Amazon Catalytic Capital’s launch, two of its portfolio funds have announced the close of their fundraises:
- Collide Capital announced the completion of its fundraising with $66 million in limited partner commitments in October 2022. Collide Capital is a venture capital fund investing in early-stage companies, with a focus on founders building transformational enterprise SaaS, supply chain infrastructure, and Gen-Z minded consumer software.
- Elevate Future Fund announced the completion of its fundraising with $112 million in limited partner commitments in May 2023. Elevate, part of the Energy Impact Partners (EIP) global investment firm, is a purpose-built venture capital fund focused on driving diversity in the energy sector through providing capital to underrepresented founders, supporting diversification and minority owned businesses in the supply chain, and investing in companies accelerating the clean energy transition while increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the broader venture capital network.
Amazon Catalytic Capital is also an investor in Share Ventures and Techstars Rising Stars. In addition to capital, Amazon Catalytic Capital seeks to provide companies in its funds’ portfolios with mentorship from Amazon executives, access to resources to support their business and technical strategy, and potential partnership and product collaboration opportunities that could accelerate their growth. Underrepresented founders are pushing the envelopes of innovation. Two companies backed by funds in Amazon Catalytic Capital’s portfolio, Crate (Collide Capital portfolio company) and Knowtex (Exceptional Capital portfolio company), also participated in the global Amazon Web Services (AWS) Generative AI Accelerator and are building compelling consumer- and enterprise-focused products. Nguyen Coffee Supply (Collide Capital portfolio company) was selected as one of the suppliers for Whole Foods Market’s Local and Emerging Accelerator Program (LEAP): On the Verge accelerator program for emerging brands.
“Each of these funds brings unique investment teams, focus areas, networks, and value-add capabilities to Amazon Catalytic Capital’s portfolio,” said Zain A. Gulamali, head of Amazon Catalytic Capital. “Furthermore, they show continued resolve in investing in and advising underrepresented founder-led startups at a time when the need and economic opportunity are greater than ever. We hope that Amazon can be a truly catalytic partner to these funds and their portfolio companies.”
Amazon Catalytic Capital is among a number of Amazon-sponsored initiatives to boost and support early-stage, underrepresented entrepreneurs. AWS has run 3 cohorts of the AWS Impact Accelerator, which is investing $30 million in a series of programs designed to help high-potential, pre-seed startups led by underrepresented founders succeed. In collaboration with Harvard Innovation Labs, AWS recently ran the NextGen Accelerator for startup founders currently attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and universities in Sub-Saharan Africa. AWS is also running the AWS-NAIC Investor Connection Program to strengthen connectivity between underrepresented founders and diverse-led VC investors within the National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC) membership and beyond.
Learn more about Amazon Catalytic Capital.
Pictured in the hero image left to right, top row: Stephanie Campbell, Marell Evans, Leslie Goldman Tepper, Diana Murakhovskaya. Bottom row: Promise Phelon, Andrew Van Nest, Tristan Walker.