National -- To most people, UPS means package delivery. In the future, however, small-business owners may begin to think venture capital when they hear the name, thanks to the multimillion-dollar Strategic Enterprise Fund the company recently established.
The fund's managers can invest up to $2 million in a single company that offers a service or product of strategic interest to UPS. This could include businesses in the fulfillment aspect of e-commerce, digital conversion, bar-coding technologies and alternative delivery methods, to name a few.
Eligible companies should be in the early stages of development but shouldn't be start-ups, and should have a product ready to go to market. There also should be some revenue coming into the firm, but the venture does not need to be profitable.
UPS expects to take an equity interest in each company, to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. The mail industry giant will also typically ask for a seat on the board of directors or request the right to visit board meetings. UPS officials expect their relationship with the company to last from three to six years and envision exit strategies that might include issuing IPOs or implementing an internal or external buyout.
Interested firms in the continental United States and Canada should submit a business plan and a statement explaining why their product has a strategic relevance to UPS. For more information on the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund, call (404) 828-7082.