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Rod Ford’s XCelerate Capital Launches Seed-Stage Venture Fund for Tech Startups

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Rod Ford’s XCelerate Capital of Little Rock announced Friday the creation of a private, seed-stage venture fund focused on early-stage tech startups across the region.

Ford, who founded XCelerate and serves as its managing partner, said the firm will target early-stage ventures throughout the Mid-South that have evolved past the idea stage and developed “innovative first-generation products or services with a potential for rapid growth.”

He said the typical XCelerate investment will be $250,000 in companies with four to 10 employees and revenues less than $500,0000.

XCelerate will work with regional entrepreneurial centers and accelerators to identify companies that meet the investment profile of the fund and are seeking seed stage investment.

Ford is former CEO of nGage Labs, which he left in July after signing on for a 12-month engagement to help turn the company around. In 2013, Ford opened an nGage analytics center in the River Market District of downtown Little Rock. 

Ford has said Arkansas lacks enough early-stage funding for startups.

“XCelerate’s niche is to provide the much needed early stage funding, coupled with experienced and active entrepreneurial mentorship for the founder team,” Ford said. “We have identified and are bridging the chasm between the ‘friends and family’ funding of the ideation phase of a startup and the traditional private equity growth capital available upon positive cash flow.

“Candidly, my own experience as a serial entrepreneur in founding multiple companies in the Mid-South has made me acutely aware of this gap in our region, and especially in Arkansas,” he said.

Ford says his new fund, devoted to early-stage ventures, should help. He also said the firm will provide more than just capital.

“The XCelerate approach is designed to create a new and successful model for active mentorship of early-stage investments, and it is our hope that the success of XCelerate’s model will attract more early-stage investors into our state,” he said.

Also part of XCelerate: Dustin Williams, an Arkansas technology entrepreneur who has worked with companies including Acumen Brands of Fayetteville and Bourbon & Boots of Little Rock. Williams will overse the firm’s technology practice and work directly with its portfolio companies.

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