Virginia Minority Cannabis Coalition Launches Bootcamp for Entrepreneurial Hopefuls Nations Birthplace OutBuro lgbt professional entreprenuer networking online community gay lesbian queer

Virginia Minority Cannabis Coalition Launches Bootcamp for Entrepreneurial Hopefuls in the Nation’s Birthplace

Training to Prepare Those Most Impacted by Cannabis Prohibition Pursue Opportunities in the Newest Industry Coming to Virginia

RICHMOND, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#BIPOCVirginia Minority Cannabis Coalition (VMCC), a Virginia-based nonprofit organization that empowers Black and Brown communities to become shareholders in the cannabis industry, has opened applications for its virtual ‘Fall 2021 Cannabis Entrepreneur Boot Camp.’ The four-week boot camp will start on Saturday, November 6, 2021, and provides entrepreneurs an accelerated leg-up in what will be one of the newest and most exciting industries in Virginia.

“The cannabis industry has made a lot of promises of righting the wrongs of past for communities of color, and with this boot camp, we are helping ensure those promises come to fruition,” said VMCC Founder Paul McLean. “VMCC is made up of small business owners in Virginia who want to see people, families, and communities of color create generational wealth with cannabis. We think we can help entrepreneurs turn their ideas and dreams into real cannabis businesses that can create positive change in their communities.”

VMCC Logo Black 01

The boot camp provides:

  • a step-by-step playbook to create a successful business plan,
  • connections to help run your business,
  • support to finance your new business, and most importantly
  • a community support network of like-minded people.

The boot camp is meant for someone who:

  • has been impacted by a cannabis arrest or conviction,
  • is directly related to someone who has had cannabis-related justice involvement,
  • has spent 3 of the last 5 years in an area with high unemployment levels, low-income levels, and/or high poverty,
  • has graduated from a historically black college or university (HBCU) located in the Commonwealth,
  • has been in the legacy market and wants a legal business, or
  • wants to start their own business.

Applications can be submitted on a rolling basis at Fall 2021 Cannabis Entrepreneur Boot Camp.

About Virginia Minority Cannabis Coalition (VMCC)

The Virginia Minority Cannabis Coalition (VMCC), headquartered in Newport News, is a pioneering 501(c)4 nonprofit organization founded in 2021 that empowers Black and Brown communities to become shareholders in the cannabis industry. The company promotes economic empowerment through equitable ownership, employment, and purposeful reallocation of tax revenue in all sectors of Virginia’s regulated cannabis industry. The Virginia Minority Cannabis Coalition offers cannabis industry educational boot camps for entrepreneurs most impacted by the war on drugs. For more information, visit http://vmccequity.org.


Media Contact
Conscious Communications

Leland Radovanovic


Sirita Wright


OutBuro lgbt professional entreprenuer networking online community gay lesbian transgender queer bisexual nonbinary 2

Fiverr Announces Inaugural Future Collective, a Business Accelerator Fellowship for Black Entrepreneurs

Future Collective fellows to receive funding as well as access to a free 6-month training and mentorship program for startups

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Fiverr, the company that is changing how the world works together, is announcing its inaugural Future Collective Fellowship Program as well as the five fellows who have been selected to receive funding, training and mentorship. Fiverr’s Future Collective was created alongside 1863 Ventures, an independent, Black-led nonprofit organization that delivers business development programs designed to bridge the gap between entrepreneurship and equality, and maestra, a business strategy firm building a more socially conscious and equitable world. The program aims to support Black entrepreneurs that have used Fiverr’s platform to get started and are already a part of Fiverr’s growing community of small businesses.

Press Page 1 (2)

Research shows that Black entrepreneurs face financial hurdles not only when beginning their businesses, but as they attempt to navigate spaces that often don’t look like them and to which they have had little access historically. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland found that Black entrepreneurs were 10% more likely to apply for financial startup assistance than their white counterparts, yet they were 19% less likely to be approved. White entrepreneurs have an edge over their Black counterparts because, for every $100 in white family wealth, Black families hold just $5.04. That same sentiment is what drives many Black sellers on Fiverr. 54% come to the platform hoping to make a sustainable, permanent living primarily on Fiverr – more likely than their White and Latinx seller counterparts. Fiverr hopes to be a part of helping to close that gap and countless others.

“Fiverr’s purpose is to provide anyone, no matter their race, religion, background or beliefs, the opportunity to build their business, brand or dreams. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to use our platform and resources in pursuit of this purpose,” said Micha Kaufman, CEO of Fiverr. “Yes, the world has seen an outpouring of support for Black owned businesses in the past year, however, there is still so much work to be done. We are thrilled to be able to support these incredible five businesses with the funding, mentoring, and training that they deserve and can’t wait to watch them continue to grow and succeed through this program.”

The five businesses that have been selected as Fiverr’s inaugural class of Future Collective fellows are:

  • Appdrop – software for empowering non-technical teams to build mobile apps without writing a single line of code.
  • Budget Collector – provides an artificial intelligence (AI) art adviser as a mobile app. The company supports the development of private art collections as well as galleries and provides resources for potential and current art collectors.
  • De L’or Cakery – a 5-star artisan cake catering company using top notch ingredients, many imported directly from the Caribbean to provide outstanding flavors.
  • Hey Girl Hey – a social bonding game created by sisters, Seanice and Sharina Clarke, Hey Girl Hey is a card game built to foster community connections among black women, featuring unexpected and entertaining prompts and challenges.
  • Keeyahri – a luxury women’s shoe brand inspired by founder and artistic director Keya Martin’s favorite architecture around the world. Keeyahri aims to help women feel confident through unique designs.

Each of the Future Collective fellows will receive $24K in funding from Fiverr, guaranteed placement in an accelerator program organized and orchestrated by 1863 Ventures and regular mentorship and guidance from Fiverr’s senior management team. The structure of the program will consist of monthly cohort sessions, assigned online materials to review and complete coupled with regular coaching sessions. The fellows will also have access to 1863 Ventures’ weekly entrepreneur webinar sessions, allowing them to participate in sessions they find relevant to their business and growth.

“Now, more than ever, it is time to double down on our support of Black entrepreneurs. Over the past few years, roughly 20% of Black Americans have engaged in early-stage entrepreneurship, but their businesses struggle to advance along the entrepreneurial pathway,” said Melissa Bradley, Managing Director of 1863 Ventures. “If Black businesses reached economic parity with non-black businesses, their revenues would increase by approximately $5.9 trillion and create more than 19 million more jobs. 1863 Ventures is proud to be leading the charge in providing the necessary resources, capital, and programmatic support to break down barriers for Black businesses. We are excited to be working with Fiverr and maestra to make this new fellowship one of a kind and accomplish economic parity for these businesses.”

“While white adults have 13 times the wealth that Black adults do, when we compare median wealth of Black and white business owners, the median wealth gap decreases to a multiplier of three,” said De’Ara Balenger, Co-Founder of maestra. “Through this effort and more like it, we believe that we can work towards building Black generational wealth and supporting Black entrepreneurship.”

About Fiverr

Fiverr’s mission is to change how the world works together. Since 2010, the Fiverr platform has been at the forefront of the future of work connecting businesses of all sizes with skilled freelancers offering digital services in more than 500 categories, across 9 verticals including graphic design, digital marketing, programming, video and animation. In the twelve months ended June 30, 2021, 4.0 million customers bought a wide range of services from freelancers across more than 160 countries. We invite you to become part of the future of work by visiting us at fiverr.com, read our blog and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Abby Forman


OutBuro lgbt professional entreprenuer networking online community gay lesbian transgender queer bisexual nonbinary 2

Comcast RISE Commits $11 Million in Grants to Small Business Owners of Color as Part of Ongoing Effort to Advance Equitable Economic Mobility in Cities Nationwide

Second round of Comcast RISE Investment Fund will award $10,000 grants to 600 additional small businesses in Houston, Miami, Oakland, Seattle, the Twin Cities, and Washington, D.C bringing the total of grants to $11 million.

1,100 more businesses will also receive Comcast RISE marketing and technology support, bringing total awardees to nearly 4,700 since program launched in late 2020

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Comcast announced today a second round of cities to receive grants from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, providing $6 million additional dollars to hundreds of small businesses owned by people of color, including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian American owners, among others, bringing the total to $11 million in grants awarded as part of the Comcast RISE Investment Fund initiative.

Rise Logo4C

Beginning on October 1, and through October 14, eligible businesses in Houston, Miami, Oakland, Seattle, the Twin Cities, and Washington, D.C. can apply for a $10,000 grant at www.ComcastRISE.com. A total of 100 grants per city, or 600 grants overall, will be awarded in November 2021. The Investment Fund is an extension of Comcast RISE, the multi-year, multi-faceted initiative launched in October 2020 to support small businesses owned by people of color and provide the resources and tools they need today and in the future.

Comcast RISE Recipients to Date

Comcast also announced its fourth round of Comcast RISE recipients, which includes 1,100 small businesses owned by people of color, that will receive a TV campaign, production of a TV commercial or consulting services from Effectv or computer equipment, internet, voice or cybersecurity from Comcast Business, as well as access to Ureeka, an online platform for entrepreneurs with a specialized online networking community with educational resources, sources of capital, and vetted experts. To date, nearly 4,700 Comcast RISE awardees have been announced and the program will have supported 13,000 small businesses by the end of 2022.

“While we know that no single organization can solve historic and systemic inequities overnight, we are committed to taking tangible actions that can drive long-term impact and change,” said Teresa Ward-Maupin, Senior Vice President, Digital and Customer Experience, Comcast Business. “Comcast RISE and the Comcast RISE Investment Fund offer the opportunity for small businesses owned by people of color to help grow their businesses, create jobs, and play a vital role in supporting our communities. This new round of Comcast RISE grants will provide more entrepreneurs of color with the resources and tools they need to scale their businesses and thrive for years to come.”

The Comcast RISE Investment Fund is focused on small businesses that have been in business for three or more years with 1-25 employees. Businesses must be in the following geographic locations to be eligible: Miami, FL (Miami-Dade and Broward Counties); Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington Counties); Oakland, CA (City of Oakland);

Seattle, WA (King and Pierce Counties); and Washington, D.C. (Wards 1-8).

To help drive awareness about the program and provide additional support, training, and mentorship, Comcast has also awarded support to Operation Hope, Ureeka, U.S. Black Chambers, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, National Asian American Chamber of Commerce, National CAPACD, Native Women Lead, National Congress of American Indians, Walker’s Legacy, Women Impacting Public Policy, Blavity.org, and nearly 40 community-based organizations in Houston, Miami, Oakland, Seattle, the Twin Cities, and Washington, D.C.

“Ureeka is proud of the commitment that Comcast is making to entrepreneurs of color, and we are humbled to be a part of this program,” said, Melissa Bradley, Co-Founder, Ureeka. “We know there are stark racial disparities in access to capital and resources for entrepreneurs of color – in fact, studies show that business owners of color are twice as likely as all business owners to report ‘lack of access to business loans/credit’ as a reason for closure. This program helps bridge the gap between survival and failure in the midst of a pandemic which continues to further exaggerate systemic injustices. The additional coaching and community connections that these businesses receive, in addition to monetary funding or services, will help these businesses gain valuable skills and opportunities that will help them move from survive to thrive.”

Comcast RISE Marketing and Technology Services

In addition to the Investment Fund, Comcast RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment,” provides the opportunity for small businesses owned by people of color nationwide to apply for one or more of the following support focus areas with the opportunity to receive one.

  • Marketing Services: The following services from Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, and its creative agency, Mnemonic, are designed to help recipients with their marketing and media campaigns, including:

    • Media: A linear TV media campaign to run over a 90-day period.
    • Creative Production: Turnkey :30 TV commercial production, plus a media strategy consultation and 90-day media placement schedule.
    • Consulting: Advertising and marketing consultations with local Effectv marketing, research, and creative teams to gain insights on how to drive business.
  • Technology Makeovers: The state-of-the-art equipment and technology upgrade from Comcast Business includes computer equipment as well as Internet, Voice, and Cybersecurity services for up to a 12-month period. (Taxes and other fees may still apply for technology makeover services.)
  • Monetary Grants: In round one, which was announced in April of 2021, the Comcast RISE Investment Fund provided $5 million in grants to 500 small businesses owned by people of color in five cities: Philadelphia/Chester, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit. As noted above, the Comcast RISE Investment Fund will provide an additional $6 million in grants to 600 small businesses owned by people of color in six cities: Miami, Houston, Oakland, Seattle, the Twin Cities, and Washington, D.C.

All eligible applicants will receive a monthly Comcast RISE newsletter with educational content, and all small business owners can visit the Comcast RISE destination on the X1 platform featuring aggregated small business news, tips, insights, and more. Just say “Comcast RISE” into the X1 voice remote.

Comcast’s Ongoing Commitment to Advancing Digital Equity

Comcast RISE is part of Comcast’s ongoing efforts to advance digital equity and help provide underrepresented small business owners with access to the digital tools and funding they need to thrive. Over the next 10 years, Comcast has committed $1 billion to programs and partnerships that will reach an estimated 50 million people with the skills, opportunities, and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or marketing and technology services are available at www.ComcastRISE.com.

About Comcast Corporation

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company that connects people to moments that matter. We are principally focused on broadband, aggregation, and streaming with 57 million customer relationships across the United States and Europe. We deliver broadband, wireless, and video through our Xfinity, Comcast Business, and Sky brands; create, distribute, and stream leading entertainment, sports, and news through Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Universal Studio Group, Sky Studios, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, multiple cable networks, Peacock, NBCUniversal News Group, NBC Sports, Sky News, and Sky Sports; and provide memorable experiences at Universal Parks and Resorts in the United States and Asia. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.

About Comcast Business

Comcast Business offers Ethernet, Internet, Wi-Fi, Voice, TV and Managed Enterprise Solutions to help organizations of all sizes transform their business. Powered by an advanced network, and backed by 24/7 customer support, Comcast Business is one of the largest contributors to the growth of Comcast Cable. Comcast Business is the nation’s largest cable provider to small and mid-size businesses and has emerged as a force in the Enterprise market; recognized over the last two years by leading industry associations as one of the fastest growing providers of Ethernet services. For more information, visit www.business.comcast.com or call 866- 429-3085. Follow on Twitter @ComcastBusiness and on other social media networks at http://business.comcast.com/social.

About Effectv

Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, helps local, regional and national advertisers use the best of digital with the power of TV to grow their business. It provides multi-screen marketing solutions to make advertising campaigns more effective and easier to execute. Headquartered in New York with offices throughout the country, Effectv has a presence in 66 markets with nearly 35 million owned and represented subscribers. For more information, visit www.effectv.com.


William Bell



OutBuro lgbt professional entreprenuer networking online community gay lesbian transgender queer bisexual nonbinary 2

Ataeum Levels the Playing Field for Aspiring Entrepreneurs With New All-in-One Platform to Transform Ideas and Dreams Into Successful Businesses

MENLO PARK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#ataeumAtaeum has unveiled an innovative new platform that empowers entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into successful businesses. The all-in-one approach is unique in that it removes obstacles that commonly discourage would-be entrepreneurs from pursuing their startup dreams. The Ataeum platform – which until now has been in private beta – is now accepting new members at ataeum.com.

sq72248505 Ataeum Intro Video
Logo small dark mode

Entrepreneurs with even the most brilliant ideas often falter because they’re hesitant to leave the security of their job, or they don’t know where to find the right collaborators to get their startup off the ground. Ataeum addresses both pain-points by automating the most time-consuming legal and administrative tasks associated with creating a joint venture, and by connecting entrepreneurs with other co-founders and individual contributors to build the right team to get the startup off the ground.

Ataeum is unique in its approach to smart vesting. No other startup platform offers such a robust set of legal tools to ensure fair and equitable distribution of the venture’s future commercialization value. As each participant joins a venture, the founders determine their target ownership and vesting schedule based on mutually agreed-upon responsibilities and budget contributions. The Ataeum platform then keeps track of vesting, ensuring participants are appropriately credited for the work they perform and the financial contributions they make to the venture.

How Ataeum Works

Joining the Ataeum community is free. Members can build their profile, network with other entrepreneurs and browse a growing list of projects – or create a project of their own. Ataeum Projects enable members to document their ideas and use Ataeum’s “MVP Flow” to define and refine their minimum viable product (MVP) vision. Starting a project gives members the ability to sign unlimited NDAs with other members, making it easy to explore collaborative options with full protection of their intellectual property (IP).

Once an Ataeum Project has a clearly defined MVP and a team of collaborators in place, it’s time to upgrade to an Ataeum Venture. This step forms contractual relationships between the co-founders, allowing them to take concrete steps toward assembling a team to build the MVP. An Ataeum Venture enables co-founders to expand the team while defining roles and fairly managing the participants’ potential ownership interests and reinforcing them legally. At the Venture stage, Ataeum holds all IP in escrow and enables founders to assign future ownership and set clearly defined vesting schedules for all involved.

With the team in place and the MVP built, Ataeum Ventures then have the option of commercializing the project. At this stage, once the Venture delivers a commercialization notice, Ataeum then establishes the Venture as a Delaware corporation. In addition to filing the certificate of incorporation, Ataeum also obtains an IRS EIN number, issues stock to venture participants, creates contractor agreements for personnel, and transfers the related IP to the newly established corporation. At this stage, the Venture graduates the Ataeum platform.

Get Started Today!

Not only is joining Ataeum free, but members can interact with fellow members and create as many projects as they like at no cost. This includes unlimited use of Ataeum’s MVP flow, which guides founders through a series of questions to help them take their startup from the idea stage to a fully conceptualized MVP. Once a member converts their Project to a Venture, Ataeum charges a fee of $699 plus 3.99% of future commercialization entity (for a limited time, Ataeum is offering early bird pricing of $199 plus 1.99% of future commercialization entity). Ataeum then charges a $999 fee for incorporation, at which time the Venture becomes its own legal entity.

Visit ataeum.com for more information about the Ataeum platform. Like Ataeum on Facebook, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn to stay up to date on the company’s latest news.

About Ataeum

Founded in 2021, Ataeum’s mission is to empower people to turn their ideas and passions into businesses, and build a world where everyone designs their own lives and loves the work they do. Ataeum delivers an all-in-one platform that empowers entrepreneurs to bootstrap startups in an automated, low-cost, no-paperwork way. The company’s innovative work-based approach minimizes co-founder uncertainty and conflicts, and facilitates fair ownership based on the amount of work performed. Ataeum is privately held and headquartered in Menlo Park, CA. For more information, visit ataeum.com.


John Snedigar

Faultline Communications


OutBuro lgbt professional entreprenuer networking online community gay lesbian transgender queer bisexual nonbinary

Women of Color-Led Venture Capital Firm Fearless Fund Announces VC Week to Educate and Empower All

ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Starting Monday, August 23rd, Fearless Fund, the first VC fund built by women of color, for women of color, will kick off its inaugural Fearless Venture Capital Week: a multi-generational hybrid experience tailored toward educating all about venture capital and entrepreneurship.


The highly-anticipated, 7-day event will be offered both in-person and virtually via livestream with a jam-packed schedule including over 50 expert speakers, grant initiatives, giveaways, pitch competitions and more. Programming will include daily sessions tailored to building financial literacy within the following core demographics: Kids, Teens, HBCU Collegiates, Women Entrepreneurs, Women Investors, and Families. The week will close with a celebration brunch in honor of Fearless Fund’s recent $25MM+ round, where guests will have the opportunity to meet and network with other talented, like-minded individuals.

Standout speakers and events for VC Week include a Fireside Chat with renowned fashion designer Steve Madden, a Fearless VC Week x Daring to Disrupt Dialogue Discussion hosted by media legend Katie Couric, and an HBCU Pitch Competition presented by DJ Envy of the iconic radio show The Breakfast Club. Additional confirmed speakers include the following highly-regarded professionals: Brandice Daniel, Cindy Eckert, Andrea Brimmer, Tanya Van Court, Nikki Chu, Sheena Allen, and many more with a special remark from Former Mayor Kasim Reed.

“Our mission with Fearless Fund has always been to diversify the Venture Capital space as well as provide resources, tools and access for communities to learn about entrepreneurship,” said Arian Simone, Co-founder and General Partner of Fearless Fund. “With Fearless Venture Capital Week, we are doing just that, not only by providing the opportunity to receive financing, but also through educational and inspirational discussions that we hope will encourage guests to live fearlessly and bring their businesses to life.”

Confirmed sponsors and partners for the events include: Steve Madden, Ally Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, Walmart, Mastercard, and UPS.

For more information on Fearless Venture Capital Week, please visit www.fearless.fund/vc-week.

About Fearless Fund

Launched in 2019, Fearless Fund invests in WOC-led businesses seeking pre-seed, seed level or series A financing. Its mission is to bridge the gap in venture capital funding for female founders of color building scalable, growth aggressive companies. Currently, Fearless Fund’s portfolio includes the following companies: EnrichHER, Range Beauty, AMP Beauty, HairBrella, Streamlytics, Capway, Clevr AI, AARMY and Slutty Vegan. The Fearless Fund team also runs The Fearless Foundation, a 501c3 organization with a goal to educate entrepreneurs through training, reduce racial inequities, and empower African-Americans to gain access to capital, as well as the Get Ready Venture Program, a 12-month training program for WOC business owners to acquire the needed training, mentorship, knowledge, and skills needed to gain access to capital.


Alexis Ford


QED Investors Rolls Out Mental Health Initiative to Tackle Stigma of Addiction in the Entrepreneur and Startup Ecosystem

ALEXANDRIA, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–QED Investors today rolled out a mental health initiative aimed at tackling addiction and eliminating the stigma of talking about substance abuse.

The program is being offered in partnership with Operation Lighthouse, a non-profit organization established by the family of Greg Mazanec, a QED Investors partner who was sadly lost after suffering from substance use disorder in 2019.

The Just Five program delivers – in just five minutes per lesson – the most important concepts and facts regarding addiction. QED Investors is providing the educational programming free of charge to all of its U.S.-based portfolio companies after piloting the curriculum with three selected companies earlier this year.

“Greg’s death put a lot of things in perspective,” said QED Investors Co-Founder and Managing Partner Nigel Morris. “He was the definition of an amazing human being – an orthogonal thinker, tenacious, brilliant, quirky. Today, we carry him around on our shoulders and always look to build on the legacy he left.

“Many people underestimate the power of stigma and the perceived shame associated with addiction. I say all the time that if I have a sore arm, I’ll come into work and I’ll whinge about it. But if I took too many sleeping pills or drank too much wine, I won’t talk about it. I’ll say that I’m going to my doctor to get my shoulder fixed, but I won’t say that I’m going to talk to my therapist. This is the first step in how we can help tackle this debilitating stigma.”

The program will reach up to 16,000 people at startups across the U.S. It will be provided to QED Investors’ international portfolio companies this summer, and a Spanish-language version will be offered to companies in Latin America.

Operation Lighthouse offers startup leaders and employees a pathway to personal and corporate health by providing education about the prevention, recognition and management of substance use disorder and other mental health issues.

Beyond education, Operation Lighthouse provides access to the tools for employees to confidentially evaluate their risk and need for help with guidance to evidence-based treatment.

Ultimately, QED Investors hopes to partner with other VC firms to share the program with their own portfolio companies to ensure everyone in the startup and entrepreneur ecosystem knows where to turn for help and support.

“Operation Lighthouse was founded in memory of my brother Greg to help the startup community he loved overcome the disease that took him from us far too soon,” said Dan Mazanec. “Through education and candid conversation, Operation Lighthouse aims to de-stigmatize substance use disorder and guide those affected by it towards sound information and treatment.

“QED has been our steadfast partner from day one. I am deeply grateful for the courage and leadership QED has shown by investing in the health and well-being of startup founders and employees. QED’s example will undoubtedly inspire other venture firms to join us in this worthy cause.”

The Just Five curriculum is provided by national nonprofit Shatterproof, an organization that aims to reverse the addiction crisis in the United States through three pillars of work: revolutionizing the addiction treatment system, breaking down addiction-related stigmas and supporting and empowering our communities.

This curriculum is split into six lessons, rolled out over the course of two months.

Each lesson has a specific theme. The first two lessons touch on the science of addiction and how certain factors such as age of first use, genetics and environment can explain why some people become addicted and others do not.

The middle lessons explain the dangers of opioids and the signs, symptoms and treatment options for substance abuse, while the final topics touch on ways you can help.

“The road of entrepreneurship requires a tremendous amount of hustle and sacrifice,” said Morris, “but at what point does that sacrifice come at the expense of your mental health? Founders are three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse and twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts. While it’s exciting to chase a dream, the weight of responsibility – to your employees, your investors and your customers – can feel overwhelming.

“Driving mental health discussions out of the shadows can massively change the trajectory of outcomes. Our world of venture is replete with people who are going through these kinds of difficulties. I swore to myself and to Greg’s family that I would talk about him wherever I had the chance.”

For more information, visit Operation Lighthouse at www.theoperationlighthouse.org and Shatterproof at www.shatterproof.org.

About Operation Lighthouse

Operation Lighthouse offers startup leaders and employees a pathway to personal and corporate health by providing education about the prevention, recognition, and management of SUD and other mental health issues. Beyond education, Operation Lighthouse provides access to the tools for employees to confidentially evaluate their risk and need for help with guidance to evidence-based treatment if needed. By encouraging leaders to create a supportive and stigma-free healthy workplace, companies can assist their employees through recovery and return to fully productive work. A win-win.

About QED Investors

QED Investors is a global leading boutique venture capital firm based in Alexandria, Va. Founded by Nigel Morris and Frank Rotman in 2007, QED Investors is focused on investing in early stage, disruptive financial services companies in the U.S., U.K., Latin America and Southeast Asia. QED Investors is dedicated to building great businesses and uses a unique, hands-on approach that leverages our partners’ decades of entrepreneurial and operational experience, helping their companies achieve breakthrough growth. Notable investments include Credit Karma, ClearScore, Nubank, SoFi, Avant, Remitly, GreenSky, Klarna, QuintoAndar, Loft, Konfio, Creditas, AvidXchange, Current and Mission Lane.


Ashley Marshall

Director, PR and Communications

QED Investors

(518) 577-9984

Coalition of Leading Small Business Providers Forms “Launchpad America” to Help Entrepreneurs, Startups Succeed as Nation Emerges from Pandemic

Starter program provides critical tools, resources, and mentorship for new small businesses

DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#entrepreneur–A consortium of industry leaders including America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), GoSmallBiz.com, Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU), Lendio, Mastercard (NYSE: MA), Roll by ADP, Thryv (NASDAQ: THRY), and YouMail have teamed up to create “Launchpad America” – a unique initiative aimed to equip entrepreneurs with the necessary resources and mentorship needed to start and grow new businesses. The group is proud to encourage entrepreneurship in the post-pandemic environment.

LaunchpadAmerica Launchpad America Primary

“Many of the people who were affected by the pandemic decided to launch their own businesses,” said Charles “Tee” Rowe, CEO and president of America’s SBDC. “We understand the challenges that startups face, and we have been in the industry long enough to know the areas new small business owners need help, both in the short as well as long-term. As a group, our goal is to support and guide startups in every way possible to improve their chances of success.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 20% of startups do not make it through their first year, and 50% don’t make it through five years. As the country and its businesses begin to reopen at a rapid rate, the leading small business solutions providers decided to band together, combining each of their organization’s respective specialized expertise to offer free resources and essential tools to America’s startups.

“As a leading small business provider who helped our customers throughout the pandemic, we recognize that small businesses are the lifeblood of a strong economy and the economic recovery is dependent on the success of these organizations,” said Joe Walsh, CEO and president of Thryv. “We are proud to spearhead this powerful group of small business providers to create a go-to resource that fuels the dreams of entrepreneurs in the U.S.”

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that starting in the spring of 2020 and continuing into 2021, Americans have been filing new business applications at the fastest rate since 2007.

Launchpad America’s new website, launchpadamerica.com, is a free resource to help entrepreneurs and startups in their quest to launch a business by providing mentorship, an immense array of much-needed information, as well as the following tools:

  • Startup Guide: Get information and mentorship on how to launch, grow and secure a small business, provided by America’s SBDC.
  • Starter Kit: Coalition partners will provide access to essential tools for starting a new business. Visitors will find links to special offers from GoSmallBiz.com, Intuit, Lendio, Mastercard Trust Center, Roll by ADP, Thryv, and YouMail.

In addition, visitors will have access to products and resources within legal, finance, credit, client management, communications, payroll, human resources, accounting, cybersecurity, and websites and domains.

Launchpad America is designed to help small businesses optimize their operations in a post-COVID world, with available products and offers at their disposal. For more information visit www.launchpadamerica.com.

About Launchpad America

Launchpad America was created by well-known small business providers to improve the chances of success for today’s entrepreneurs. At www.launchpadamerica.com, entrepreneurs can find what they need to get their new business ideas off the ground. The program offers products and tools in legal, finance, credit, client management, communications, payroll, human resources, accounting, and website domains. In addition, visitors will find opportunities for mentorship and guidebooks on building as well as running a small business. Launchpad America participants include America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), GoSmallBiz.com, Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU), Lendio, Mastercard (NYSE: MA), Roll by ADP, Thryv (NASDAQ: THRY) and YouMail. For more information visit www.launchpadamerica.com.


Lacy Jansson