Echelon announces it has become a lead investor in Full Course based in Atlanta. Full Course is the industry’s first and premier accelerator and incubator of early-stage food brands and is changing the way that independent restaurants grow. The company partners with restaurants in the early stages of development and helps them tell their stories by optimizing operations, developing strategies for sustainable growth and connecting owners or chefs with the right investors or franchise partners.
According to Patrick Mazzotta, General Partner of Echelon, “Full Course marks our company’s first foray into the food industry, and it is an exciting venture for us. We’re investing in the brilliant operating model that will build and scale quick-serve restaurant franchises. We know what it takes to scale, and we see that expertise written all over Full Course.”
Mazzotta believes that Lauren Fernandez, Full Course’s Founder and CEO, has assembled a stellar team that demonstrates an exceptional understanding of the industry’s dynamics. “Their attention to detail and ultimate solution design, which addresses a burgeoning demand in the U.S. market, is deeply impressive.”
Echelon also sees great promise in how Full Course qualifies emerging restaurant brands. “Their mission to build sustainable growth for restaurant brands inherently demands a level of operational and financial discipline that is strongly correlated with successful scale-ups. Lauren has designed the embedding of these critical capabilities into the brands she’s building, only after qualifying them through a diligent intake process,” says Mazzotta. “By putting the strongest indicators of success at the heart of every venture, Full Course ensures qualified businesses are trained by the best-in-class industry experts and are capable of delivering on that training.”
“Partnering with an investor like Echelon is a key step in our story,” said Fernandez, of the occasion. “It provides us with exceptional visibility, expertise and market profile that we can leverage to elevate our portfolio brands to an even higher level of success, and our overall model to its next evolution.”
Full Course began its first round of funding in 2021, launching its inaugural investment fund FC Polaris Fund I, with the intention of subsequent funds to follow. FC Polaris Fund I is seeking up to $20 million in aggregate capital to support and grow five emerging restaurant businesses in the Southeast. The fund will help accelerate growth for these businesses across four primary channels—traditional brick-and-mortar growth, non-traditional growth into markets like airports and arenas, product development and franchising.
Echelon is a diversified $50 million venture capital Fund of Funds within TFS Ecosystem comprised of a collection of emerging managers with entrepreneurial experience in more than 10 industries. Echelon currently has allocations earmarked in government sector infrastructure, e-commerce technology and venture studio models. Echelon has built an allocation strategy of 60% venture capital, 20% venture debt and 20% real estate that offers a maximized return with well-managed risk for its investors. Within its venture capital allocation, Echlelon carefully balances its investments across pre-seed, seed and scale-up stages.