Firm Background

Applied Real Intelligence (A.R.I.) was initially conceptualized by its Founder and Managing General Partner, Zack Ellison, and is premised upon the following beliefs:


    • Venture debt offers an opportunity for generating excess risk-adjusted return (i.e., ‘alpha’) within the fixed income markets given the strategy has excellent historical returns, is underserved, and presents tremendous growth potential.
    • By creating access to minimally-dilutive capital for underrepresented regions, sectors, and founders who have been historically underserved, A.R.I. will supercharge broader economic growth.
    • A.R.I. offers an immediately actionable opportunity – not being met by others – through its Senior Secured Growth Credit Fund, which seeks to provide investors with sustainable alpha, protection of capital, and portfolio diversification while also promoting the social good by increasing access to growth capital for North America’s most dynamic startups.


A.R.I. has dual missions of providing capital to North America’s most dynamic startups while providing investors in the A.R.I. Senior Secured Growth Credit Fund with exclusive access to “innovation” as an asset class.

Zack Ellison, MBA, MS, CFA, CAIA

Zack Ellison, MBA, MS, CFA, CAIA

Founder, Managing General Partner, & Chief Investment Officer

At A.R.I., we believe that true success is achieved through collaboration and mutual growth. We’re not just investors; we’re partners who stand by our entrepreneurs at every step of their journey. Our goal is to transform promising startups into market leaders by providing them with the capital, strategic insights and valuable industry connections they need to optimize their growth.

The A.R.I. Advantage


Superior Risk-Adjusted Returns

15-20%+ annual net return target, comprised of 12-15% annual cash return via contractual fees and interest payments on senior secured debt and 3-5%+ annual return via equity exposure.


Security of Capital

Senior secured debt provides control of capital structure, enhances protection of capital, maximizes recovery value, and optimizes compounding of realized returns through market cycles.


Strong Portfolio Diversifier

Low correlation to other asset classes due to unique debt investments made to sponsor-backed North American companies within industries identified by A.R.I. to be fast-growing and recession-resistant.

Investment Strategy

A.R.I. specializes in crafting customized debt solutions for North America’s top revenue-generating startups. Our core strategy focuses on creating deep, long-term partnerships that extend beyond single transactions. We commit to supporting the journey of our portfolio companies, participating in multiple financing rounds, enhancing their growth with capital and strategic advice.

Our unique approach includes loans of up to $30 million combined with equity participation that ensures our success is directly aligned with the success of our investments. By doing so, we commit to the long-term achievements of our partners, fostering a mutual dedication to innovation and excellence.

Venture Debt Overview

Venture debt consists of loans made to startups that are seeking growth capital. These companies are typically producing revenue, are backed by venture capital, and have reached a growth or expansion stage.

These loans are typically made to Series A through Series D companies that are producing revenue and can service debt payments. Typically, a loan is made in conjunction with an equity raise and is designed to provide growth capital for founders to develop new products, enter new markets, expand their marketing and so on. Venture debt can be a cheaper, minimally dilutive alternative to equity financing.

A key advantage of venture debt over equity financing is its minimal dilution. Equity financing involves selling shares and can significantly dilute existing ownership. Venture debt, however, is structured to be less costly and much less dilutive. 

Venture loans are typically three to four years in maturity. The lender also gets some equity upside in the company through warrants that aligns their interests with the long-term success of the borrower. Overall, venture debt is much less dilutive, and much less expensive for founders, than a straight equity raise.

Focus Sectors

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Software & Software as a Service (SaaS)

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Internet & Business Services

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Business to Business Marketplace (B2B)

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Healthcare Services

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Sustainable & Clean Energy Technology (CleanTech)

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Agricultural Technology (AgTech)

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Supply Chain & Logistics

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Sports & Gaming

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)

Media & Entertainment

Financial Technology (FinTech, InsurTech)



At A.R.I., we’re committed to forging strong partnerships that fuel innovation and drive financial success. Whether you’re looking to grow your startup with strategic financing or seeking to diversify and enrich your investment portfolio through cutting-edge opportunities, we offer tailored pathways to partnership. Discover how you can join us in shaping the future of industry-leading companies.

Investors – Invest with impact

Unlock the potential of your investment returns by safely investing in innovation through the A.R.I. Senior Secured Growth Credit Fund.

Borrowers – Fuel Your Growth

Accelerate your company’s success and ensure long-term growth with strategic financing from the A.R.I. Senior Secured Growth Credit Fund.


Subscribe to A.R.I.’s Newsletters

Select the Newsletters You Would Like to Receive