Raleigh private equity firm Cherokee Investment Partners is dipping its toe in the accelerator business.
This year's "Cherokee Challenge" will involve hosting up to three environmental business startups that Cherokee will nurture and take an equity stake in, said senior analyst J.T. Vaughn.
Cherokee will provide three months of free space, $20,000 in seed funding, basic back-office services such as accounting, and free counseling as needed.
Cherokee is looking for "business models that turn environmental liabilities into assets."
That's in keeping with Cherokee's early strategy on investing in contaminated property, although in recent years it has branched out into other real estate. Cherokee has invested nearly $2 billion in more than 525 properties.
Cherokee also has assembled an advisory committee that includes, among others: Jud Bowman, founder and CEO of Appia; David Jones, a partner at venture capital firm Southern Capitol Ventures, and Merrette Moore, founder and managing partner of investment firm Lookout Capital.
In exchange for its funding and help, Cherokee will receive an ownership stake of between 3 percent and 9 percent in the venture, depending on how far it already has progressed. Ventures also can choose to develop one of Cherokee's concepts, but in those instances Cherokee would expect to retain an ownership stake of at least 50 percent, Vaughn said.
Cherokee hopes that its accelerator will be enough of a success to merit conducting future Challenges, Vaughn said.
Applications and additional information can be found here. The deadline for applications is April 15.