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Another Google Program For Black Entrepreneurs
Internet giant Google is launching the second $5 million Black Founders Fund, according to an announcement, yet another big-company expanding in the field to help diverse entrepreneurs. Goodie Nation, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that’s helped thousands of Black-owned startups launch, runs the program.
Selected entrepreneurs will receive up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding, and an additional $120,000 in Google Ads credits and up to $100,000 in Google Cloud credits, according to the post. They will be chosen from Google for Startups U.S. programs and partner communities or through nominations from past recipients.
The big company launched the fund last June. It’s also recently announced it will give $5 million grants to 10 HBCUs in support scholarships, career support programs and technology infrastructure at the schools.
The question that is emerging is whether relatively inexpensive programs to boost black tech founders are ways for the giant corporations to avoid deeper change. Last week, we reported Amazon’s commitment of $100 million over four years for Black entrepreneurs. Months ago, we covered Tik Tok’s accelerator for Black creators.
Many have come forward to call out the racism in these major companies: a Recode investigation reported racial discrimmination and bias within Amazon and its HR department; Time Magazine writes that Tik Tok has shadowbanned Black creators so their content was viewed less on the app; and NBC reports that Google employees who reported racism were advised to receive mental health care.
More accelerators and funds focused on Black founders emerged following the Black Lives Matter protests last year. Overall, the venture industry has been publicly embracing diversity.
There’s been a blip of an impact: Black founders have long received only 1% of all venture funding. While still such a low number, Black founders have received 1.4% this year, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Last year, the Google accelerator funded 76 entrepreneurs. “The results have exceeded my expectations,” writes Joey Womack, the founder and CEO of Goodie Nation, in the blog post announcing the second fund. “Within six months of distributing these awards, Google has seen the Black Founders Fund help Black led startups create more jobs, raise more capital and increase revenues.”
More than 80% of recipients have used the awards to hire new employees and 78% of recipients report the fund has immediately helped grow their revenues, he writes in the blog post. Founders have reported that they have raised more $38M since receiving funding, Womack writes.
NYC Hospital System Mount Sinai Launches Incubator
The commercial arm of New York City-based hospital system Mount Sinai is seeking healthcare tech and biotech startups for its new incubator program called Elementa Labs, according to its website. The 12-week program will introduce selected entrepreneurs to Mount Sinai’s network and help them to create a development plan. It’s looking for companies that will “strategically align” with the hospital system. Applications for the program are due Sept. 30
Emerging Climate Watchdog
A small hedge fund called Engine No. 1 is launching an exchange-traded fund that will track the sustainability performance of the 500 largest companies in the U.S. and move to change the governance of those it judges are lagging, writes Robinson Meyer for The Atlantic. Already, the fund unseated three members of ExxonMobil’s board of directors, replacing them with climate-conscious members. It successfully did this despite only owning .02% of the company. The ETF will trade on the stock market under the ticker VOTE. It already has $100 million committed, according to the article.
“Unlike other index-fund providers, which sit out some fights with management, Engine No. 1 has pledged to crusade,” Meyer, a lead climate reporter at The Atlantic, wrote. “When Engine No. 1 campaigns against a company’s leadership, shares held by the Transition 500 ETF will vote for its slate.”
If you want to learn more about the power of index funds in corporate governance — and emerging policies and laws that may seek to reign in that power — take a look at Harvard Law Professor John Coates’ paper on the subject: The Power of 12. One of the questions is whether such passive investment funds will have the resources to be well enough informed on giant companies’ operations.
$1 Million Boost for U of Alabama at Birmingham Entrepreneurship
Medical Properties Trust and Melinda and Edward K. Aldag Jr. have donated $1 million to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business to support entrepreneurship students, according to a university announcement. The program, which is still pending approval as of the June 23 announcement, will provide 10 scholarships for business school students. Both Edward and Melinda Aldag both graduated from the main campus of the University of Alabama but their foundation is based in Birmingham, according to LinkedIn.
$1 Million for Charlotte Entrepreneurs
A fourth round of the Center City Small Business Innovation Fund is open for small business owners around Charlotte, North Carolina, according to a city announcement. The round is offering a total $1 million for owners, with $40,000, $20,000 and $10,000 grants available. Businesses that are based in Charlotte, have a storefront within two miles of Trade and Tryon streets, or have plans to expand there, with fewer than 50 employees, are eligible to apply. The fund launched last year with an initial investment of $2 million from Honeywell and the Foundation For The Carolinas, according to the announcement. Applications are due July 9.
Names to Know
Dominic Poggi is the new regional director of the Indiana Small Business Development Center, a position appointed by the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership, Inside Indiana Business reports. Prior to his new role, Poggi worked in sales at companies such as Groupon and PreScooter. Most recently, he worked as a disaster program manager at the American Red Cross, according to the article.
Devin Glenn is the new global head of diversity, equity and inclusion for investment firm Blackstone, which has $649 billion assets under management, according to a news release. Previously, she was the assistant director of diversity and inclusion at New York-based Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. The firm launched a mandate last year that aims to create at least one-third diverse representation in its investments starting in the U.S. and Europe, according to the release.
LA-based MuckerLab Seeks Startups for Its Malleable Accelerator
Applications are open for Los Angeles- based MuckerLab’s startup accelerator — a 10-year-old program and investment fund credited with being a pioneer in the Los Angeles tech ecosystem. The accelerator and investor plans to fund accepted startups between $100,000 and $200,000. The program isn’t structured like typical accelerators, rather it aids the 10-12 selected startups in whatever way they need for as long as necessary, according to its website. MuckerLab’s portfolio includes Honey, a browser plugin that alerts customers of markdowns in their online carts, which Paypal recently acquired for $4 billion, and software company ServiceTitan, which has raised $400 million to date. Applications are due July 6.
Pitch Competition for St. Louis Metro East Entrepreneurs
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and the Illinois Small Business Development Center have opened applications for its startup challenge for entrepreneurs in the St. Louis Metro East region, according to its website. Participants will pitch their startup for ten minutes in front of a panel of judges. The first place prize is $10,000, and second, third and fourth will win $6,000, $4,000 and $2,000, according to the website. The challenge is sponsored by the business school, the City of Collinsville and the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, and Scott Credit Union, which will be sponsoring a networking event. Applications are due August 8.
Developer Challenge and Accelerator For Financial Inclusion Solutions
Equifax, a credit data and analytics tech company in Atlanta, Georgia, is launching a developer challenge and accelerator program, called Equifax Accelerate, it announced in a news release last week. It’s seeking early-stage developers with solutions to foster financial inclusion. The company has partnered with Chicago-based tech accelerator 1871 for the program, according to the release. Fifty applicants will be selected to compete in a challenge in August, which will be judged by a panel that includes Mike Newell, the senior director of software engineering at Capital One and Jeff Sternberg, a technical director at Google Cloud, and Fang Yu, the co-founder and chief technology officer at fraud detector DataVisor. Winners of the challenge will receive access to the accelerator program, which includes more mentorship, networking and marketing. Applications are due July 29.