The Plug and Play Tech Center, a Palo Alto, Calif., accelerator program that provides office space, mentorship and a fundraising springboard for about 200 startups in the Silicon Valley, says it plans to raise $20 million for its own seed investment fund, to be called Plug and Play LLC. And it’s looking to its partners and several other capital firms — Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Sequoia Capital among them — to make it happen.
It seems the time is ripe for this type of operation, with many larger firms opting to provide small, early-stage amounts to young companies. The Plug and Play Tech Center is one way for them to do so without the demands of working closely with the companies themselves. Its founder, Persian rug dealer and landlord Saeed Amidi, is more than familiar with the investing and tech startup landscape as founder of boutique venture capital firm Amidzad Partners.
He also has powerful friends, having forged partnerships with Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, BestBuy and others to make the Plug and Play Tech Center possible (though none of these companies has committed to participating in the new fund). Amidi anticipates that 20 percent of the $20 million needed will come from his own family.
The plan so far is for Plug and Play to back between 10 and 12 startups a year, distributing $500,000 or less to each. Amidi hasn’t specified what kind of companies he will be most interested in supporting, but, as the Wall Street Journal notes, he has always had an affinity for software makers, content delivery platforms and other pure technology concepts.
Over the next several months, Amidi will busy himself calling on firms and companies he has worked with in the past to ask them to chip in. He already has established relationships with Sequoia Capital (Amidzad joining them in a round of financing for video chat service TokBox) and ATA Ventures (an old partner in backing social network Zoosk). Still, neither of these firms nor DFJ have yet to confirm they’ll participate in Plug and Play’s fund.
Amidzad Partners also happens to be an investor in VentureBeat.