Tech Titan Rapper T.I. Pumps ‘Mulaah’ Into The Atlanta Tech Startup Scene

Written by Holly Beilin

Rapper and entertainer Clifford Joseph “T.I.” Harris, Jr. has made multiple plays in Atlanta’s tech startup scene recently.

The artist announced his partnership with Mulaah, an early-stage fintech platform founded by two Georgia Tech engineering grads, and Sudu, a scaling logistics technology startup. He made investments into both companies.

Last week T.I. appeared onstage at Venture Atlanta, the largest venture investor conference in the Southeast, in support of logistics technology startup Sudu. Sudu is a marketplace that connects large shippers with small and medium-sized trucking companies, specifically minority-, women- or veteran-owned companies.

The startup began when co-founder Amari Ruff noticed the difficulty that these smaller companies, often overlooked because of their size, had connecting to those large enterprises and landing the contracts they need to scale.

Atlanta tech entrepreneur
Amari Ruff, CEO of Sudu. Photo provided

“As a startup, your brand identity is everything,” says Ruff, who formerly founded a telecommunications services company. “We needed to make a big splash and I thought that T.I., a big Atlanta figure and international cultural icon who has invested in tech, could be that figure. It was an obvious partnership for us to pursue.”

Sudu is a portfolio company in the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) incubator, as well as one of seven inaugural companies in Engage Ventures, an enterprise-backed fund supported by 10 major corporations.

Ruff says the partnership with T.I. is the first real marketing play the company has made.

“We’re excited to see how we can work together, using T.I.’s reputation and resources to reach our fullest potential,” says Ruff.

Sudu team. Photo: Hypepotamus

T.I. formerly worked with the founders of Mulaah, an app that rewards users with money for looking at mobile ads, on a previous tech startup. In 2013, T. I. partnered with Vernell Woods and Dennis Campbell on Yopima, a social and events app. Though that project shuttered, T.I. stayed connected with the team — they worked with him on technology projects for his record label, Grand Hustle — and has joined this latest endeavor as an investor and partner.

“These young men are the future leaders in technology and I am excited to partner with them on this new platform,” said T.I in a statement. “I believe Mulaah is an excellent way for advertisers to connect directly with the people, and the future to helping everyday Americans earn extra income. I’m excited to be a part of Mulaah’s board and what the future holds.”

Another member of the startup team also leads marketing for producer Dallas Austin’s record label, Rowdy Records. After seeing the project, Austin has come on board as well.

Mulaah is intended for users to make “effortless revenue off their phones,” by sharing revenue with them for viewing ads.

The company says it has already partnered with advertisers, content distributors, and digital survey companies.

“I wanted to create a way to help the everyday person make more money and become businessmen and women on their own,” says Woods.

Rapper T.I. Image: Evgeny Parfenov

The app is currently in an invite-only phase on Android. The team plans to launch on iOS and open for public use in the coming weeks.

This article originally appeared in Hypepotamus. It is reposted here with the permission of the author, Hypepotamus editor Holly Beilin.

 

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About Holly Beilin
Holly Beilin is editor in chief at Hypepotamus, a source of startup and tech news, events, job listings and resources showcasing students, innovators, companies and venture capitalists that call the south home.

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