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Our Approach

Portal Fund makes pre-seed investments into founders based in the Gulf Coast region that are in the early stage of developing companies with high-growth business models.

Portal Fund is designed to accelerate the entrepreneurial ecosystem of South Alabama and the central Gulf Coast region. The fund will attract, retain, and support high-growth ventures in the region by providing startup founders with seed capital and access to Portal programming, milestone-based mentoring, and workspace, all designed to encourage venture development, growth, and job creation.

Round 2 has closed.

We’ll begin accepting applications again in Summer 2022. 

Invest

$10,000–50,000
Up to 10 Each Year
Convertible Notes

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Support

Develop Milestones
Direct Mentoring
Startup Programs

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Succeed

Business Growth
Job Creation
Economic Impact

  • Fund Overview
  • Eligibility
  • Application/Evaluation Process
  • Investment Criteria
  • Investee Requirements
  • 501(c)(3)
  • Early stage investment fund
  • $10,000–$50,000 investments
  • Investments awarded as convertible notes. Convertible notes are investments in the form of a loan that have the option of converting into equity at the time of a qualifying financing event.
  • Inaugural fund raised in 2019
  • Inaugural investment round initiated in 2020
  • 1 investment round completed
  • 2 ventures have received investment, totaling $75,000
  • Next investment round will open for applications May 1, 2021
  • Located in Mobile, AL, serving the greater Gulf Coast region

Purpose:

  • Support founders in the Gulf Coast region
  • Encourage venture development
  • Attract and retain founders in the region
  • Encourage ventures to create jobs
  • Attract and retain talent in the region
  • Prepare founders for follow-on, equity-based funding
  • Create deal flow for funders
  • High-potential founders: We back founders who are obsessed with developing a business around solving real problems in innovative ways. We’re looking for founders that are coachable, responsive, motivated, and that have a unique ability to lead and inspire others to join their journey.
  • Venture based in the Gulf Coast region or willing to relocate to the region
    • “Based in” is defined as a business whose primary operations, headquarters, and leadership are located in
    • Region includes Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe, Washington, and Wilcox counties in Alabama
    • Relocating requires forming/relocating primary operations, headquarters, and leadership to the region within 90 days of award notification and for at least 2 years
  • Ventures with high potential for rapid growth: We look for startups that can grow into sizable businesses, creating high-wage jobs and revenues.
  • Ventures in any sector: However, particular consideration will be given to startups that are utilizing emerging technologies aligned with regional industry activity (aerospace, med-tech, shipping and logistics, ship building, chemical, etc.).
  • Ventures in early stage of development: Ideation, concepting, launch, early revenue-generating, etc.
  • For-profit ventures only: Portal Fund will not consider applications submitted by nonprofits, although social enterprises and social impact businesses with for-profit business models are encouraged to apply.
  • Submissions must be the original idea of the applicant.
  1. Complete online application (will reopen for next investment round on May 1 until July 15, 2021)
  2. Portal staff will review and send complete and eligible applications to the Investment Council
  3. Investment Council will review applications and select semi-finalists
  4. Semi-finalists will interview with Investment Council
  5. Investment Council will select finalists
  6. Finalists pitch before the Investment Council and Advisory Panel
  7. Investment Council makes investment decisions considering input from the Advisory Panel
  8. Finalists may be asked to complete due diligence review

Applicants shall remain honest and responsive to Portal staff and Investment Council throughout the process

  • Committed founders
  • Validation
  • Scalability
  • Innovative nature of the product, technology, or service
  • Business development and success metrics to date
  • Market landscape
  • The qualities of the founder and executive team
  • Strength of investment opportunity
  • Potential impact on the region
  • Diversity of founding and leadership team
  • If company is not legally formed, it must form within 30 days of award notification in order to receive investment
  • If company is not currently located within the region, it must form/relocate primary operations, headquarters, and leadership to the region within 90 days of award notification and for at least 2 years
  • Identify milestones incorporating specific deliverables from the Investment Council and goals for the following year
  • Develop timeline and action plan to achieve milestones
  • Meet regularly with Portal staff
  • Report regularly on venture status and progress
  • Prepare for follow on funding
  • Participate in Portal activities
  • Provide regular reports for the life of the venture

Investment Council

Advisory Panel

Portal Fund Donors