Welcome to The Hub, your spot for venture capital, accelerator and incubator news. In this redesigned version of our news roundup, we’ll provide you with the latest on organizations working to support, educate and fund innovators and their ideas. We’ll highlight cohort applications, people to know in the incubator world and programs working to give resources to those who typically don’t have access elsewhere. As always, we’re focused on underrepresented entrepreneurs — such as women, people of color, and those geographically outside power centers — and organizations supporting these demographics.
Have a piece of news you think will fit into this roundup? Email it to Skyler Rossi at [email protected].
Impact Experience Aims to Get More Loans In The Hands of Women of Color
Impact Experience, an Oakland, California-based group that connects investors, entrepreneurs and business people, is working to give women of color more access to funding. Sponsored by Oakland-based investment accelerator CNote, Impact Experience surveyed and held conversations with about 70 women of color in the U.S. about challenges they face getting access to capital, according to Impact Experience CEO Jenna Nicholas. Some of the key challenges the women identified were perception of risk, digital literacy and the lack of build up of a credit history, Nicholas said.
Money invested in CNote’s Wisdom Fund, which has a $100,000 minimum and offers a 1% annual return, is deployed with Community Development Financial Institutions across the country for loans to women entrepreneurs, mainly women of color, according to the institution’s web site.
This week, 30 people in the business community will virtually gather for an Impact Experience event to discuss the findings from these conversations and talk about how to make loans more accessible to women of color. During the pandemic, Impact Experience converted its two-day events to an online format; the typical curriculum, which includes a trust-building exercise, a grounding discussion — this event’s will focus on Montgomery, Alabama, which was a hub of slavery and has a deep history in racial injustice — and small group discussions. This event is sponsored by CNote.
The organization typically holds events monthly. Entrepreneurs and investors interested in participating in future Impact Experiences should contact Impact Experience on its website.
Village Capital Starts A ‘Justice Lens’ Initiative
Last year, Washington, D.C.-based Village Capital created a “justice lens” — when it started intentionally investing in innovation that helps those affected by the criminal or civil justice systems. Now, the fund is working on a framework to outline how other venture capitalists can take this “justice lens” when investing. The framework is being created as part of a partnership with the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact and will launch this spring, according to the newsletter.
Its CEO, Allie Burns, calls on U.S.-based investors to contact Marcia Chong Rosado, the funds’ Future of Finance Practice lead, at [email protected] with any ideas for the justice lens.
Officially Open: Louisville’s First Minority-Focused Incubator
The Russell Technology Business Incubator, the first minority-business focused incubator in Louisville, opened its doors Tuesday. Its founder, Dave Christopher, has been supporting minority communities for years through his nonprofit AMPED, which provides music and technology education to kids and their families. He’s raised more than $3 million from organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation to provide free support and resources to Black and Latinx entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses
We covered Christopher’s incubator extensively last week, as well as other resources for minority entrepreneurs in Louisville. Read the full story: As A $3 Billion Boom Hits Louisville, New Generations Of Black Leaders Are Rising To Power Also, read more about the building that was created as a resource hub in the Russell neighborhood, where Christopher’s incubator is located: Hundreds Line Up To Help Regrow Economy In West Louisville
Incubator Aims to Support Louisiana Entrepreneurs Coping With Coastal Erosion
The Bayou Region Incubator, a Louisiana nonprofit, was recently established to help entrepreneurs in the Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary parishes develop their businesses, especially those that are dealing with coastal erosion, the Houma Today reports. The program is currently housed at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, but is waiting on $3.5 million in federal grants to build its own location. The incubator will work with Nicholls’ planned $14.5 million coastal research center, which was created to spur jobs in water management and coastal restoration, according to the article. Details about the program and how to apply will be announced later this year, its director Kevin Pitts said.
Ohio Incubator Launches Program For Entrepreneurs Under 18
The Youngstown Business Incubator in Youngstown, Ohio, is launching an incubator program in March to help students ages 9 to 18 create a business, The Business Journal reports. By the end of the 15-week program, the 25 students in its first cohort will have finance training, be able to register a business in the state of Ohio and learn how to pitch, according to the incubator’s website. The deadline to apply is March 1 and the cohort will begin March 16. This cohort is open to Youngstown-based students, but the incubator is discussing offering future programs to people outside the area, said Corey Patrick, the incubator’s director of Entrepreneurship Services Program.
Quebec’s First Deep Tech Venture Fund
Boreal Ventures, a fund based in Montreal, Canada, launched Wednesday and is looking to invest in deep tech startups, according to a news release. It will have an initial investment capital of $26 million, thanks to its partners, which include the Government of Quebec through Investissement Québec, Montreal-based Teralys Capital and Montreal-based Hewitt Group. Its venture capitalists are looking to fund companies that emerge from Montreal-based incubator Centech as well as other Quebec-based innovators. Boreal Ventures is Quebec’s first venture capital fund focused on high tech, according to the release.
$500k Seed Fund Created For Philadelphia Minority Entrepreneurs
Seattle-based Raynier Institute & Foundation is partnering with Drexel University and the University City Science Center to create a $500,000 seed fund, which will provide capital to minority entrepreneurs in the Philadelphia area, according to a Drexel release. Students of Drexel’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, its Office of Research and Innovation and the Science Center’s commercialization programs will be eligible to apply for the funds. Three representatives from the Science Center, the Close School and Drexel’s Office of Research and Innovation will create a group to help evaluate applicants and connect them to entrepreneurial support resources, according to the release. Ten-15 entrepreneurs will receive $20,000-$50,000 each, according to Drexel representative Britt Faulstick. The Raynier Institute and Foundation has awarded more than $41 million to organizations since its founding, mainly in Seattle, where it’s based, and Philadelphia. The Institute’s founder, James Widener Ray, is part of one of Philadelphia’s wealthiest families, the Wideners, who earned their money in the meat and railroad industries, according to the foundation’s website.
Mississippi Student Incubator Accepting Applications
Innovate Mississippi, a Jackson, Mississippi-based accelerator, is launching its inaugural NextUp Student Pitch Competition, which will be held on April 13-14, the Daily Leader reports. Students who attend any Mississippi college, university or community college can apply to pitch their business idea to a panel of judges made up of Mississippi entrepreneurs and investors. The 10 selected businesses’ founders will be paired with mentors to help refine their pitch before the pitch competition. Judges will decide the competition winners based on pre-recorded video pitches and an executive summary. The first, second and third place winners will be awarded a cash prize, the amount of which has not yet been decided as the accelerator is still working to recruit sponsors for the prizes, but will be in the hundreds, said Tasha Bibbs, the director of entrepreneurial development at Innovate Mississippi. The deadline to apply is March 8.