Atmos AI: From Vanderbilt Vision to Global Sustainability Impact with WAP Acquisition

In the dynamic landscape of environmental sustainability, where innovation is key to addressing complex challenges, the story of Atmos AI stands out. The startup, which originated from a visionary concept at Vanderbilt University, has recently marked a significant milestone with its acquisition by WAP Sustainability.

The Journey Begins: A Vision for Simpler ESG Reporting

Atmos AI was founded on a simple yet ambitious idea: to make Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting more accessible for medium-sized enterprises. Drawing on the analogy of TurboTax, which simplifies tax filing for individuals, Atmos AI aimed to demystify the ESG reporting process, making it more approachable for companies struggling with sustainability criteria.

Photo taken by Bryan Fay of the Atmos AI team during their time in the Founder Program Launch Incubator space.
Photo taken by Bryan Fay of the Atmos AI team during their time in the Founder Program Launch Incubator space.

"Having witnessed the sustainability challenges in my previous professional experiences, I was drawn to address the needs of mid-sized companies,” said Founder, Max Mona. “These firms often lack the necessary resources to meet the growing demands for sustainability and ESG data. We recognized that ESG represented a new language for our clientele, and we tried to prioritize education in our product development to navigate this emerging landscape."

Max Mona and previous co-founder, Adam Jace, started their journey as Vanderbilt students with just a simple idea. The growth of their business involved several key players who believed fully in them. At the Owen Graduate School of Business, Max found crucial support, particularly from Cherrie Wilkerson, Associate Dean for Young Professional Programs. “Instead of following the traditional path that the MSF program typically provides, Cherrie encouraged me to follow my passion”, he said.

He also learned about pitching and gained access to a large network of supportive mentors and fellow ventures through his participation in the Climate Innovation Accelerator, Builder, and Founder Programs, at the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s Center for Innovation as well as through a class called “Creating and Launching the Venture,” which was taught by Owen entrepreneurship professor Dr. Michael Burcham.

SEC Pitch Competition: A Catalyst for Growth

The SEC Pitch Competition emerged as a defining moment for Atmos AI. Just five months after forming their venture, Max and Adam represented Vanderbilt and pitched their vision to a panel of esteemed judges. Their victory not only validated their business model but also highlighted the potential for their solution to make a significant impact on the sustainability landscape.

2022 SEC Pitch Competition: Left to Right - Adam Jace and Max Mona
2022 SEC Pitch Competition: Left to Right - Adam Jace and Max Mona

"The win at the SEC Pitch Competition was a turning point for us," Max reflects. "It was a moment of recognition that what we were building had the potential to resonate widely. More importantly, it helped us secure the seed funding crucial for taking our operations to the next level."

Following their success in the competition, as Max and Adam were navigating their transition from students to founders in Nashville, Atmos AI successfully raised $1.7 million in investment from a diverse group of U.S. investors, including GoAhead Ventures, New Climate Ventures, 701 Ventures, and WAP Sustainability, who became a strategic partner.

WAP Acquisition: Embarking on a New Chapter

The journey from a promising startup to a significant player in the sustainability sector reached a new milestone with the acquisition of Atmos AI by WAP Sustainability Consulting, whose vision perfectly aligns with Max’s company. The acquisition has provided an opportunity to amplify the mission that began in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Vanderbilt University, bringing the vision of accessible sustainability reporting to a global audience.

"The acquisition by WAP Sustainability is a testament to the hard work of our team and the innovative solution we've created," he said. "With WAP's expertise and network, we are poised to expand our impact, helping more companies navigate the complexities of ESG reporting."

Max Mona's journey with Atmos AI serves as an inspiring example of how ideas, supported by the right resources and partnerships, can evolve into impactful solutions that drive change all over the world. 

"Watching Atmos AI evolve from just an idea at Vanderbilt to a global sustainability influencer exemplifies the powerful outcomes possible when academic innovation meets intentional entrepreneurial action,” said Dr. Charleson Bell, Director of Entrepreneurship and Biomedical Innovation at the Wond’ry.  “Their success, culminating in the acquisition by WAP Sustainability, illustrates that it is indeed possible for visionary, determined innovators at Vanderbilt to leverage training, mentorship, and resources at the University to transform their ideas into transformative impact on the world. It's a testament, not only to the fortitude of the entrepreneurs who led this venture from birth to acquisition, but also to the vital role that support and collaboration play in turning bold ideas into reality."

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