By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
“We’re interested in anything that plays in the tech space and is disruptive,” the Managing Director of Atlanta’s newest start-up accelerator says.
Burunda Prince-Jones was named to her new position in late September, leading The Farm, a Comcast NBCUniversal-supported initiative. The program is part of the corporation’s LIFT Labs for Entrepreneurs program, which stands for “Leveraging Innovation for Tomorrow.”
Prince-Jones brings impressive credentials to her new role, including degrees from MIT and Harvard, management positions with several corporations, consulting work, and even a stint with Bain & Company.
“I’m an Atlanta native coming back home to a different but better city,” she says of her relocation from Philadelphia where Comcast NBC Universal is headquartered.
The Farm is currently recruiting start-ups for its inaugural Atlanta cohort.
“We don’t have a vertical focus,” Prince-Jones explains, adding that she does have an interest in fintech, health tech, and the Internet of Things.
Ten companies will be selected for the three-month residential accelerator that will start March 12. The deadline to apply is January 5 (click here for a link.) Those selected will be required to have at least two Founders or key team members involved at all times.
“We believe the time away to focus on the strategic is critical for their success,” Prince-Jones says.
Applicants should be early stage. That means they probably don’t have seed funding, sales or revenue, and might not even have an MVP (minimum viable product).
“We’re interested in supporting entrepreneurs to scale their businesses,” Prince-Jones says. The Farm will invest $20,000 in the participants in exchange for six percent equity. “We have skin in the game, and they have skin in the game,” she adds. “Our model is not a VC one, but based on what’s best for entrepreneurs.”
Ironically, The Farm is like many start-ups. Prince-Jones told us during our telephone interview that she is waiting to move into her permanent location in The Battery complex at SunTrust Park. The facility will include premium incubator offices, a cutting edge prototype laboratory and co-working space that are free to startups.
The Atlanta location expands on another Comcast NBCUniversal initiative based in Boulder, CO. Called Boomtown, that accelerator, which has offered 10 cohorts, offers both a general technology program and one focused on hardware and connectivity, healthtech and a general tech track for other kinds of companies.
“Atlanta is a perfect nurturing ground for technology start-ups,” Prince-Jones says of launching The Farm, citing a robust mix of corporate headquarters and universities, a diverse workforce, a wealth of talent, and supportive governmental organizations.
As far as the rationale for Comcast NBCUniversal’s involvement, she cites the reason that many corporations have become more active in the start-up ecosystem.
“Disruptive innovation occurs very well at the entrepreneurial level,” Prince-Jones says. “Comcast NBCUniversal is also a good corporate citizen that is always trying to give back to its communities.”