Amazon has announced Amazon Catalytic Capital, a new initiative to invest $150 million in venture capital (VC) funds, accelerators, incubators, and venture studios that provide funding to entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, primarily at the pre-seed/seed stage of venture capital funding.
The company will invest in funds that focus on Black, Latino, Indigenous, women, and LGBTQIA+ founders. Amazon expects to support more than 10 funds and over 200 companies through the next year.
“We’ve seen incredibly innovative ideas from underrepresented entrepreneurs—from companies offering inclusive health services for women to startups helping companies mitigate climate impact for underserved communities—and we’re convinced that an inclusive investment strategy leads to better returns and innovation. We want to ensure that these companies and their founders have the same access to capital as anyone else,” said Peter Krawiec, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide corporate development.
“We hope that our investment will be catalytic—sparking a force-multiplying effect by inspiring others to invest in these companies, fostering inclusion and innovation, positively impacting communities, and creating generational wealth and financial return”, Peter Krawiec added.
In addition to capital, the companies in the funds’ portfolios will receive mentorship from Amazon executives and gain access to resources to support their business and technical strategy. Amazon teams will also work with the startups to identify partnership and product collaboration opportunities that could accelerate their growth.
Through this initiative, Amazon has invested in the following funds:
- Collide Capital — Collide Capital is a Black-owned seed and pre-seed venture capital fund led by two founders under the age of 35: Aaron Samuels, who co-founded AfroTech, and Brian Hollins, who is a founding Board Member of BLCK VC. To date, Collide Capital has backed over 40 companies, of which 80%+ are led by Black, Latino, and/or female founders.
- Elevate Future Fund — Elevate Future Fund, which is overseen by Energy Impact Partners (EIP), focuses on increasing funding to underrepresented founders working on solutions to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and clean energy future. It will also make investments in companies that are led by underrepresented entrepreneurs, are empowering diverse talent, and/or are creating economic opportunity for distressed or disadvantaged communities. Elevate will also collaborate closely with Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, which invests in emerging climate technology companies.
- Share Ventures — Share Ventures is a Los Angeles-based venture fund and venture foundry focused on human performance. Share focuses on solving problems by creating and investing in innovative companies that unlock human potential, in categories including health tech, future of work, people tech, fintech, transportation, and purpose tech (companies facilitating impact and change).
- Techstars Rising Stars Fund — With its first investments in 2022, the Rising Stars Fund is a pre-seed venture capital fund investing in underrepresented founders of color in the U.S. The fund is part of the Techstars investment business that provides access to capital, one-on-one mentorship, and customized programming for early-stage entrepreneurs.
Amazon Catalytic Capital is the latest in a series of Amazon-sponsored initiatives to boost and support early-stage, underrepresented entrepreneurs.
Amazon Web Services recently launched the AWS Impact Accelerator, investing $30 million in a series of programs designed to help high-potential, pre-seed startups led by underrepresented founders succeed.
Amazon chose North American startups to be part of its 2022 Black Founders Build with Alexa cohort, each receiving a $100,000 Alexa Fund investment, as well as technology support. Additionally, in 2021, Amazon committed $150 million to its Black Business Accelerator, an initiative to help Black business owners succeed as sellers in Amazon’s stores.