BIP Capital, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm, launched a franchise development division, the BIP Franchise Accelerator, to help emerging brands accelerate their growth. Currently, the BIP Franchise Accelerator's portfolio includes fast-casual concepts Tropical Smoothie Café and Tin Drum Asian Kitchen, and the company is seeking to invest in brands with high growth potential across all franchise segments.
"We created the BIP Franchise Accelerator to leverage our team's deep franchise experience. Unlike other venture capital firms, we not only provide investment capital, but also work closely with franchisors to define a detailed plan to ignite franchise development, open more locations and grow unit sales," says Scott Pressly, cofounder and managing partner of BIP Capital. "Through our proven strategies, we're able to help emerging concepts grow into mature, thriving brands by rapidly expanding their existing footprint by 50–100 percent each year."
The BIP Franchise Accelerator's flexible approach allows franchisors to benefit from investment as well as its shared services infrastructure and its executives' vast knowledge and experience in brand management, marketing, franchise development, training, and more. The BIP Franchise Accelerator also manages a $20 million internal financing program, BIP Franchise Finance, to assist franchisees in its portfolio brands with acquiring the capital needed to grow.
The BIP Franchise Accelerator's leadership team includes:
- Scott Pressly, Cofounder and Managing Partner, BIP Capital
- Tom Wells, Vice President, BIP Capital
- Mark Kirsch, Principal, Gary Plant Mooty
- Mike Rotondo, CEO, Tropical Smoothie Café and Tin Drum Asian Kitchen
- Charles Watson, CFE, Chief Development Officer, Tropical Smoothie Café and Tin Drum Asian Kitchen
BIP Capital invested in Tropical Smoothie Café in 2010 when the chain had only 200 franchised locations and was growing by 20 units per year. Today, the award-winning brand has more than 465 locations nationwide and signed nearly 200 franchise agreements in 2015. Additionally, Tropical Smoothie Café's average unit volume (AUV) has increased 44 percent, the highest in the company's history—with the top 50 percent of franchisees reporting an AUV of $734,000.
"We worked side-by-side with the team at BIP Capital to develop a strategic plan that included hiring the best talent to drive our franchise sales efforts, modernizing our store design and menu, and improving our unit economics to grow revenue and reduce franchise costs," Rotondo says. "We've experienced incredible momentum over the last several years, including consistent, double-digit same-store sales growth and some of our most successful menu items to date. I'm thrilled to be part of the BIP Franchise Accelerator, so we can help other emerging brands achieve their growth potential."