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Davis Wright Tremaine’s Project W Completes Inaugural Tech Equity Hub Virtual Accelerator Program

Impressive nationwide cohort featured 10 Black and Latinx female entrepreneurs

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is pleased to announce the completion of Project W’s inaugural Tech Equity Hub virtual accelerator program, which provided 10 Black and Latinx female founders the tools, resources and connections they need to build successful companies.

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“Tech Equity Hub is our newest initiative to unlock the power of pre-revenue tech companies founded by Black and Latinx women,” said Project W founder Lynn Loacker, partner-in-charge of DWT’s New York office. “These talented founders are innovating in education, healthcare and commerce to address some of the most intractable problems that underrepresented communities are facing. Without a doubt, these remarkable women will leave the world in a better place.”

The program’s full cohort included:

  • Tiffany Hosey – BuilDATAnalytics: Streamlining complex construction projects.
  • Laura Thomas – Effective to Great Education: Social emotional learning technology for underserved school communities.
  • Emily Brown – Free-From Market: Healthy food solutions to improve health and equity outcomes.
  • Sheena Franklin – K’ept Health: Virtual dermatological clinic providing culturally competent care.
  • Aireka Harvell – Nodat: Artificial intelligence to help small businesses drive sales.
  • Noelle Acosta – Noula: Affordable, at-home maternal wellness test kit and personalized pre- and postnatal care plans.
  • Mandy Bowman – Official Black Wall Street: Connecting consumers to Black-owned businesses.
  • Tope Mitchell – Reflekt Me: Personalizing ecommerce by size, body type, skin tone and hair texture.
  • Ashley Williams – RIZZARR, Inc.: Promoting brands through millennial- and Gen Z-created content.
  • Danielle Allen – Si · La · Bul: Video platform for cultural language learning.

During the 12-week program, which ended Sept. 30, the group engaged in workshops, one-on-one mentoring sessions, individualized coaching and tech deep dives, as well as community-building events. The expert faculty and accomplished mentors covered product design and evolution, marketing and sales, business strategy and finance, growth, legal, fundraising and personal development. All of the experts, investors and mentors were committed to help the founders build successful companies. Partners that generously shared their expertise and resources included Coalition Venture Studio, M12 (Microsoft’s venture capital fund), R/GA Ventures, Stripe and U.S. Bank.

“Tech Equity Hub was immensely helpful in solidifying my team’s growth. I love how the program focused on the development of every single department within a company,” said Ashley Williams, founder and CEO of RIZZARR, a tech-enabled content marketplace in which brands can find and work with over 5,000 millennial and Gen Z content creators worldwide. “I really think it’s so wonderful that these programs are being created to help women of color. There’s a lot of conversation going around about what women of color go through with startups, funding, and more, and until now, it’s been a lot of talk: Project W actually put it into action.”

Noula founder and CEO Noelle Acosta added: “As a founder, my background has mainly been in business development and go-to-market strategy, so getting exposure to so many different components of the startup journey has been really helpful. The most helpful part, for me, of Tech Equity Hub has been the fact that the faculty and mentors took the time to understand where I’m at in my startup journey as well as what I do well. I was paired with an investor and a mentor in my field who taught me practical and tangible skills.”

BuilDATAnalytics founder and CEO Tiffany Hosey said: “Tech Equity Hub was organized in a way that I never felt we were being shorted on any programming. For the entire program to focus on women of color, specifically Black and brown, and for Project W to pour all of the resources into the programming, it really felt like there was a sincere commitment to see all of us succeed. No other program in which I’ve been involved – from start to finish – has been comparable.”

About Project W

Project W is Davis Wright Tremaine’s commitment to help women build great companies, advance their careers and achieve parity in the boardroom and the workplace. Through its programming, partnerships with like-minded organizations and national network of over 2,500 founders, investors and executives, Project W is moving the needle in closing the gender equality gap and in advancing the careers and lives of women. For more information, visit https://www.dwt.com/about/project-w.

About Davis Wright Tremaine

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is an AmLaw 100 firm with more than 600 lawyers representing clients based throughout the United States and around the world. For more information, visit www.dwt.com.

Contacts

Leora Goldfarb

Baretz+Brunelle

Lgoldfarb@baretzbrunelle.com

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Isobar Public Sector Launches Minority-Owned Business Incubator

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#DEI–Isobar Public Sector, a dentsu international company, announced today the launch of a new minority-owned business incubator with Maryland-based firms. The goal of the partnership is to provide black-owned, 8a and minority-owned small businesses with technical support and resources to accelerate their operations, growth and go-to-market efforts in the public sector.

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The program is part of Isobar Public Sector / Merkle and dentsu’s Economic Empowerment initiative. The firm has partnered with Maryland Black Businesses Matter organization, founded by Gregory Holmes, to identify black businesses currently working with U.S. federal, state and local governments. Following an initial matchmaking session, participating firms determine the type and level of support required. This may include business development, capacity building, proposal support, marketing efforts and/or administrative support.

“With this program, our goal is to make a difference for these firms and collectively improve not only their bottom line but also the careers and opportunities for both existing and prospective employees,” said Larry Gillespie, president, Isobar Public Sector. “Although we’ve just started, I’ve been amazed at the talent and creativity of all the firms. We are extremely fortunate to be working with Gregory, who brings a ton of passion and energy to the growth of black businesses in Maryland. This isn’t a typical mentor-protégé arrangement but a true collaboration. In fact, I find that it’s the larger firms in the relationship, like Isobar, that often learn the most.”

Collectively, the companies share a common focus and mission in delivering digital transformation, IT modernization and program management for government agencies. The collaboration often includes support of business development activities, proposals, white paper development and other activities. These efforts are supported by dentsu’s Global Technology Alliance partners, including Qualtrics, Salesforce, Adobe, Amazon, Google Global Technology practice and others.

Read the full press release here.

About dentsu:

Part of the dentsu group, dentsu international is made up of six leadership brands – Carat, dentsuX, iProspect, Isobar, dentsumcgarrybowen, Merkle and supported by its specialist brands. dentsu international helps clients to win, keep and grow their best customers and achieve meaningful progress for their businesses. With best-in-class services and solutions in media, CXM, and creative, dentsu international operates in over 145 markets worldwide with more than 45,000 dedicated specialists. Visit www.dentsu.com.

Contacts

Press:
Jennifer Ferguson

Chief Communications Officer, dentsu Americas

Jennifer.fergsuon@dentsu.com

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HSBC Launches Venture Growth Financing for High-Growth Businesses and Startups

HSBC Ventures will provide capital to support growth initiatives for global clients specializing in innovation and technology.

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–HSBC Group today announced the launch of HSBC Ventures, a new US-based business that will provide flexible capital to growth-oriented businesses around the world, furthering their innovation and expansion objectives. As part of this initiative, $100 million will be reserved for partners and clients who are developing climatetech solutions and supporting a net-zero global economy.

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“As the leading international bank for technology-led startups around the world, HSBC’s Ventures naturally extends our global focus on technology financing by supporting fast-paced growth enterprises with comprehensive banking products,” said Martin Richards, President of HSBC Ventures and Global Head of Sustainable Finance – Commercial Banking.

Venture growth finance provides loans designed for early-stage, high-growth companies with venture capital backing, which can help companies extend their funding runway to their next equity raise, be more agile with investments or acquisitions, and provide a safety net for unforeseen events. HSBC Ventures customers will be able to leverage the full resources of the bank, which includes an unparalleled international footprint, a comprehensive set of commercial and investment banking products and decades of experience supporting early stage, growth stage, pre-IPO and public companies.

“We are excited to be a transformative partner to startups around the world in need of funding to scale their operations, whether that be through sales, marketing, inventory or acquisitions,” said Prasant Chunduru, Global Head of Venture Growth Finance.

HSBC Ventures is seeking partnerships with innovative, market-leading startups that have strong venture capital backing and are looking to scale internationally.

Click here to learn more about HSBC Ventures.

Note to editors:

About HSBC

HSBC USA

HSBC Bank USA, National Association (HSBC Bank USA, N.A.) serves customers through retail banking and wealth management, commercial banking, private banking, and global banking and markets segments. It operates bank branches in: California; Washington, D.C.; Florida; Maryland; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Virginia; and Washington. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is the principal subsidiary of HSBC USA Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of HSBC North America Holdings Inc. In the United States, deposit products are offered by HSBC Bank USA, N.A., Member FDIC, investment and brokerage services are provided through HSBC Securities (USA) Inc., (Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC) and insurance products are provided through HSBC Insurance Agency (USA) Inc.

HSBC Holdings plc

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of HSBC, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 64 countries and territories in its geographical regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,976bn at 30 June 2021, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.

Contacts

Media enquiries to:
Matt Kozar

631-482-6586

matt.kozar@us.hsbc.com

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Ohio-Based Startup Is First Northeast Recipient of Black Business Support Fund From Kinetic

Kinetic Business has awarded $125,000 in grants since 2020 to benefit Black-owned firms

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GENEVA, Ohio–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Kinetic Business today announced that an Ohio-based consulting firm that specializes in professional coaching, training and development, has been selected as the first Northeast Region winner of the Black Business Support Fund. The fund seeks to increase the number and stability of Black-owned businesses located within Kinetic’s service footprint.

Jewel White recently learned that, as a small-business grant recipient, her firm will receive $2,500 in cash and a year of free internet. Located in Geneva, Ohio, near Ashtabula, 180 Development Solutions & Consulting Co. LLC is a consulting agency that serves business and impact-driven organizations with coaching, facilitated dialogue, and shared learning experiences. Through its services, clients are given tools to manage and resolve disputes effectively, strengthen relationships, and encourage a collaborative team culture.

White says she is using the grant award to build strategic partnerships for her business. She recently became an authorized partner of Everything DiSC®, a global network of consultants, trainers, and coaches dedicated to improving the performance of people and cultures of organizations. That official partnership may not have been possible, at least not this year, without the support and recognition of Kinetic Business, she said.

“I’m so grateful that a close friend shared information about the Black Business Support Fund with me. I read the requirements and applied for it right away,” White said. “I strongly encourage other owners of Black-owned businesses to take the time to look into it and apply as soon as possible. The application process was a breeze. And already, the grant has been a real blessing for our small business, allowing us to continue pushing toward our vision of assisting other businesses and organizations, eliminating barriers, and implementing strategic techniques to produce purposeful, profitable, and impact-driven results.”

White’s is the first Black-owned enterprise to win the Fund since early August, when Kinetic Business began accepting applications for the awarding of grants to eligible businesses in three Northeast states: New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Previously, Kinetic opened the Fund to eligible customers in areas of Georgia, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania where the company has service.

Since the fund’s launch in late 2020, businesses selected for the grants have received a grand total of $125,000 in cash awards. If chosen, each small-business grant recipient will receive $2,500 in cash and a year of free internet for their business. The selected businesses will also get a free consultation from Kinetic Business on processes and products that could improve efficiencies and make their business more profitable.

To be eligible for a Black Business Support Fund grant, a business must:

  • Be a new or current small business in a market area that Kinetic serves in North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, New York, Ohio or Pennsylvania;
  • Be Black-owned and have 25 or fewer employees;
  • Not be currently engaged in bankruptcy proceedings;
  • Not be a nonprofit organization, liquor store, check-cashing agency, gun shop, pawn shop or adult entertainment business, and
  • Not apply for multiple businesses.

Funds will be awarded on a first come, first served basis. Applicants should check Black Business Support Fund website for full terms and conditions and application process.

Kinetic has a long history of partnering with business and residential customers to connect communities to what’s important. Kinetic by Windstream is committed to deploying fiber to communities across the 18-state Kinetic footprint. This multi-year, $2 billion investment expanding fast, reliable connection allows residential customers gig speeds to navigate the internet safely from home with no lag times while they work, learn or stream entertainment services. Businesses ranging from small shops to large enterprises can take advantage of the fiber-backed network to deploy solutions that make their companies more efficient and profitable such as OfficeSuite UC® and SD-WAN.

About Kinetic

Kinetic by Windstream is a business unit of Windstream, a privately held communications and software company. Kinetic provides premium broadband, entertainment and security services through an enhanced fiber network to consumers and businesses primarily in rural areas in 18 states. The company also offers managed communications services, including SD-WAN and UCaaS, and high-capacity bandwidth and transport services to businesses across the U.S. Additional information is available at KineticBusiness.com. Follow us on Twitter at @GoKineticBiz.

Contacts

Kerri Case

kerri.case@windstream.com

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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.

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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.

Contacts

Alexis Ford

fearlessfund@azionepr.com

New Survey Shows Los Angeles VCs Outpacing National Funding for Women, POC-Led Businesses; Wide Pay Gaps Still Exist in LA Tech, Ageism Concerns Emerge

PledgeLA to convene task force to address systemic pay inequities and raise non-equity funding for Black & Latinx entrepreneurs

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–PledgeLA, a coalition of hundreds of venture capital (VC) and tech leaders in Los Angeles working to increase equity, community engagement, and accountability around corporate diversity efforts, today released the results of its expanded, third-annual diversity, equity, and inclusion survey.

Annenberg Foundation

Launched in October 2018, PledgeLA is a partnership between the Annenberg Foundation, the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and 219 L.A. venture capital firms and tech companies. PledgeLA is unique among VC and tech DEI efforts in that it annually measures its members’ progress and provides support to help member companies achieve improved DEI goals and outcomes. No other region in the nation collects self-reported data on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

This year’s PledgeLA diversity survey is the largest ever conducted for Los Angeles VC and tech companies, with participation from 174 organizations. Key findings of this year’s survey include:

  • Investments from PledgeLA VCs for Black, Latinx, and women founders outpace the national average: The investments made by PledgeLA VCs in Black founders increased by 71% since last year (see graph here). Far more gains are needed, however, when it comes to funding for women and Latinx-owned business. Given that one out of every 10 VC dollars flows through Los Angeles – a 39 percent increase from 2019 – these trends have national implications.1
  • Women and People of Color Face Persistent Pay Gaps: While women in L.A. tech companies have greater representation from entry level to senior management positions than Silicon Valley2, women earn significantly less than men (see graph). This gaps is larger than the national average. Additionally, Black and Latinx employees earn far less than their peers (see graph).
  • Number of Gen X Tech Employees in the Workforce Saw Significant Decrease in 2021: While the majority of staff demographics remained unchanged between the 2020 and 2021 surveys, we did see a significant shift in the age of PledgeLA companies’ workforce. Just 22% of workers report belonging to Generation X or older this year, a decline from 37% last year. This means the vast majority of the L.A. tech workforce was born between 1980 and 1990, a spike in the number of Millennials, and a decline in opportunities for older adults. This raises important questions about potential ageism and the representation of diverse age groups in the tech workforce.

Despite the persistent challenges faced by the L.A. tech and VC sectors when it comes to increasing diversity, PledgeLA has seen encouraging signs that its efforts are bearing results. With a multi-year focus on increasing access to jobs in tech, venture capital, and funding for women and POC-led startups, the initiative is focused to ensuring that measurable growth and progress continue. Over the coming year, PledgeLA and AnnenbergTech have committed to:

  • Raise another $1 million over two years for “The PledgeLA Founders Fund– This is an annual pool of non-dilutive funding that provides $25,000 grants to 20 early-stage Black and Latinx-led companies. In addition to no-strings funding to help grow their business, the Annenberg Foundation provides each with four months of technical assistance with Grid110, while PledgeLA’s network of leaders and businesses help grow participants networks and find other sources of capital. Following last year’s pilot, which focused on entrepreneurs in the South L.A. community, the effort has already helped founders of color make measurable gains. In a little more than six months, the pilot group raised more than $2.55 million in follow-on capital, hired 29 employees, and 89% of businesses increased recurring revenue.

In 2021, the program will expand to serve early-stage Black and Latinx founders across all of Los Angeles County, buoyed by support from new partners Earvin “Magic” and Cookie Johnson and the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation. Both have pledged multi-year funding and outreach support for the effort for the next two years.

“Backing visionary entrepreneurs of color is a clear path to building economic opportunity and generational wealth for our communities,” said Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises. “We’re excited to back the PledgeLA Founders Fund because it highlights the tremendous untapped potential for businesses led by people of color that might otherwise be overlooked. When investors broaden their lens, we all win.”

  • Convene a task force to address ongoing regional concerns around racial and gender pay equity. – Working with advisors from PledgeLA’s leadership team, approximately 20 participating businesses will be asked to gather and reflect on detailed internal data about pay equity and their compensation practices. While each participant’s data will be kept private, the group will identify challenges they all share, and be tasked with making recommendations for the broader ecosystem about ways to ensure fairer pay. Additionally, this group will partner with experts from the new Wallis Annenberg GenSpace to examine the images of ageism and generational differences in representation.
  • Expand its core programs that seek to increase access to jobs for women, people of color, and under-represented groups. – PledgeLA’s core programs include its Summer VC Internship Program, a collaboration with HBCUvc, which provides interns with 10 weeks of experiential learning, including full-time work at a VC firm. Of this year’s final cohort, 100 percent identify as a woman or a person of color. Alumni of the program have gone on to investment roles at the Dorm Room Fund, PayPal Ventures, Upfront Ventures, and Vamos Ventures.

PledgeLA also has a Tech Mentorship Program, hosted in partnership with the Riordan College to Career Program at UCLA Anderson School of Management. This program matches 50 L.A. tech leaders as mentors to 50 first-generation college students and recent grads. Meeting monthly for a full year, PledgeLA mentors work with PledgeLA to place students in either tech internships or a full-time role by June 2022. Last year, just over 80% of mentees were matched full or part-time opportunities at companies including Accenture, Amazon, Crexi, Google, Oracle, PwC, J.P. Morgan, McKinsey, and U.S. Bank.

“The Annenberg Foundation and our Chairman Wallis Annenberg created PledgeLA to ensure that all Angelenos benefit from the growth of our Los Angeles tech and innovation sector,” said Cinny Kennard, Executive Director, Annenberg Foundation. “Despite the persistent challenges we face, the impact made over the last three years shows our collective’s tremendous potential. In that time, PledgeLA has matched nearly 150 underrepresented Angelenos with paid opportunities in tech and VC, provided $500k in grants to founders of color, and fostered a regional spirit of accountability and action.”

“Los Angeles has one of the most diverse economies in the country because we know our businesses are stronger when they represent the people they serve,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “PledgeLA’s work to provide critical data and blueprints for action will help us continue to break down barriers to opportunity for underserved and underrepresented Angelenos in the workforce.”

The complete aggregated results from the survey are available here: https://pledgela.org/accountability/

About PledgeLA’s Survey Methodology & Regional / National Comparisons

In a context where a lack of data around diversity and representation is the norm, PledgeLA’s efforts represent a bold step towards authentic local accountability. No other region collects self-reported data on diversity, equity and inclusion. Most reports traditionally rely on secondary data-sources, such as government records that only focus on race and gender and have no public reporting requirements. Additionally, unlike PledgeLA’s annual survey, which captures both company location and employees’ hometowns, other regional surveys lack specificity when it comes to geography.

To gather this type of data from companies of all stages, PledgeLA partnered with Pluto, a diversity & inclusion platform, powered by survey and communication features that are specifically designed to help advance [DEI] efforts. Pluto offers comprehensive DEI metrics, advanced intersectional analytics within and across companies, and proprietary privacy measures that protect respondent identities regardless of company size. For the comparisons to Silicon Valley, the PledgeLA team used the Center of Investigative Reportings 2018 survey of diversity in Silicon Valley as a point of comparison for race and gender data. To benchmark our venture capital portfolio data, we indexed our findings against the 2020 RateMyInvestor Diversity in US Startups report, which analyzed the investments of 100 non-overlapping firms.

About PledgeLA

PledgeLA is a collective of L.A.-based tech companies and venture capital firms working to create measurable change in the areas of community engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Created in partnership with Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Annenberg Foundation, and over 215 Los Angeles venture capital (VCs) and tech companies, PledgeLA’s members make a commitment to track their community engagement and diversity data each year and make that data publicly available. They also work to expand their engagement with local nonprofits that support diverse talent and reflect the civic spirit of Los Angeles. Additional support for PledgeLA has been provided by the Acevedo Foundation, the Weingart Foundation, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

About the Annenberg Foundation

The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation that provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally. The Foundation and its Board of Directors are also directly involved in the community through innovative projects that advance public well-being, spark new ideas, and spread knowledge. The Foundation is committed to core values of responsiveness, accessibility, fairness, and involvement. To learn more about the Annenberg Foundation and their various initiatives, click here.

PledgeLA Venture Capital Signatories:

Act One Ventures, Activist Artist Management, Alpha Edison, Amplify, Backstage Capital, BAM Ventures, Baron Davis Enterprises, BCG Digital Ventures, Beach View Capital, BioscienceLA, Blue Skies Unlimited, Bonfire, Bryant Stibel, China Visionary Group, Clocktower Technology Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Cooley LLP, Core Innovation Capital, Countrywood Holdings, Crosscut Ventures, Diverse Communities Impact Fund, Embark Ventures, Early Growth Financial Services, Evolution, Fifth Wall Ventures, Fika Ventures, First Republic Bank, Greycroft, Halogen Ventures, HMC INQ, KW Capital Partners, LDR Ventures, List Ventures, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), Luma Launch, M13, March Capital, MarsBio, MaC Venture capital, MiLA Capital, MOBD Ventures, Moonshots Capital, Mucker Capital, Muse Capital, Navigate Ventures, Navitas Capital, Okapi Venture Capital, PLG Ventures, Plug and Play, PLUS Capital, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Roadster Capital, SA&M Preccelerator, Scopus Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, Slauson & Co., Sound Ventures, Stage Venture Partners, Starburst Accelerator, Stat Zero Group, StillMark, Sutton Capital Partners, Tale Venture Partners, Techstars, TenOneTen Ventures, The 22 Fund, Thin Line Capital, Troy Capital Partners, Trousdale Capital Management, TYLT Ventures, UCLA Biodesign, Upfront Ventures, USC Marshall Venture Fund, VamosVentures, Vine Ventures, Watertower Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, The West Coast Consortium For Technology & Innovation in Pediatrics, Women’s, Innovation Fund Accelerator, and Wonder Ventures

PledgeLA Tech Company Signatories:

2Swim, 7TILL8 Wetsuits, 70 Million Jobs, 81cents, Accurate Property Tax Inc., AlgoPay, Inc., Altura, amginE Ink, LLC, Artium Technologies, LLC, Aspiration, AudioCardio, AvantStay, Inc., Avisare, Basepaws, BESE, Beyond Meat, Bird, Blue Fever, Boingo Wireless, Breadware Inc., BUENA, CareNodes, Commercial Real Estate Exchange, Inc. (CREXi), Community, COMUNITYmade, Coral, Cornerstone OnDemand, CPR Save, Creative Spoons, Croquet Corporation, Cuál, DailyKarma, DASH Systems, Inc., Data 360, Denken Solutions Inc., Dogdrop, Dollar Shave Club, dot.LA, DPFTRAC, Elevate My Brand, EMWDESIGNS, Emblematic Group, Encantos, Enplug, Ettitude, Everytable, EVgo, Expy Health, FabFitFun, FairClaims, Fama, FamiLeague, Inc., Fernish, Finli, FLATLAY Inc., Flavors from Afar, Gearup 360, Giftata, Gladeo, Golden, Good Job, Grid110, Hawke Media, Heir Apparent, Helpr, Holisticism, Honey, HopSkipDrive, Hot Bit VR, Idealab, Inclusology, Instil, Jam City, Jasper, Jimaye, Joymode, Jump Watts Inc., Kitchen Table App, Larta Institute, Launchmaps, Lawgood, Liquid, Lorals, Mahmee, MediaAlpha, MediPocket, Me Tyme Network Inc., Mikomoss Labs, Mondays Labs, Munchee Haus, Noun Project, Nuyorktricity, Officebook, Omaze, OurOffice Inc., Ozobot, PAIRE, Parkonomik, Peachscore, Peak Metrics, Perch Mobility, Inc., Pick My Solar, Ping, Pledge, PocketCFO, Pocketwatch, Rapid7, Reel, Sabio Enterprises, Inc., ScaleHealth, Snap Inc., Solver, Inc., Soylent, SteelHouse, Stellar Agency, StoryPlace, SUMA Wealth, Sweet Flower, sweetgreen, TALA, Tastemade, Techonsite Corporation, TecnoLatinx, The Bouqs Company, The Handoff Company, Thrive Market, Toucan, Tradesy, Trappit, US, TuesdayNights, Two Bit Circus, UNOMi, Valence Enterprises, Inc., Virgin Hyperloop One, #WeAllGrow Latina Network, Wellsayer, WeTransfer, Zip & Go Assist (Virtual Assistants), and Zypp

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1 The aggregated data from surveys and the report were combined to create a “snapshot” of L.A.’s progress towards advancing equity in LA tech and access to capital. Combining self-reported data from leaders, staff-level surveys, and public data, this represents the most detailed, multi-year look at Los Angeles investment dollars ever prepared.

2 Comparison of PledgeLA tech company demographics against the Center for Investigative Reporting’s 2016 analysis of 22 Silicon Valley companies’ EE0-1 reports: https://revealnews.org/article/hidden-figures-how-silicon-valley-keeps-diversity-data-secret/

Contacts

Katie Dunham

katie@katiedunham.net

Morgan Stanley Launches Next Level Fund in Partnership with Hearst, Microsoft and Walmart to Invest in Diverse Start-Ups

  • Fund to Invest in Women and Multicultural Founded Early-Stage Companies
  • Fund builds on expertise from the groundbreaking Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab and HearstLab sourcing disruptive technology and technology-enabled start-ups

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Morgan Stanley Investment Management (MSIM) and the Multicultural Strategy Group today announced it has launched Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund, L.P. (“Next Level” or the “Fund”). The Fund, part of MSIM’s Private Credit & Equity platform, will invest in primarily early-stage technology and technology-enabled companies with women or diverse members as part of the founding team from target sectors including technology, consumer/retail, financial technology, healthcare and media & entertainment. Investors in the strategy include the key inaugural corporate partners: Hearst, Microsoft and Walmart. This new strategy will build upon the expertise of the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab, Morgan Stanley’s in-house start-up accelerator, and HearstLab, which provides cash investment and services to early-stage, women-led startups. The team anticipates partnering with additional corporate organizations that share similar strategic interests.

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“By intentionally seeking out high-growth companies founded by multicultural and women entrepreneurs, Next Level presents an exciting opportunity for disruptive startups to increase their visibility and accelerate their businesses with the support of our corporate partners,” said Alice Vilma, Co-Portfolio Manager, Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund. “We are pleased to be partnering with Hearst, Microsoft and Walmart on this exciting new initiative which advances our respective companies’ goals to promote financial inclusion and access to capital for women and diverse founders. Portfolio companies will benefit not only from the capital provided from the Fund, but also from access to the global resources and capabilities of each of our corporate partners.”

“Hearst is delighted to partner with Morgan Stanley, Microsoft and Walmart in the Next Level Fund and to have the opportunity to support target companies and provide strategic assistance. This further augments our commitment to investing in women and diverse founders who are some of our best talent,” said Eve Burton, Executive Vice President, Hearst, and Chairwoman of HearstLab. Ms. Burton will be a member of Next Level’s Advisory Board.

Tahreem Kampton, Treasurer of Microsoft Corporation added, “We’re pleased to partner and support Morgan Stanley and the Next Level Fund to help provide opportunity and access to capital, especially in diverse and underrepresented communities, with the goal of driving positive impact through technology.”

“The Next Level Fund provides a unique opportunity to support women and diverse businesses by increasing access to capital and offering strategic assistance,” said Wayne Hamilton, Vice President, Specialty Tax, and Finance Shared Value Network lead, Walmart. “Walmart is deeply committed to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in the communities we serve. We’re leveraging this work through four Shared Value Networks we launched last year to advance racial equity at scale. Within our Financial Shared Value Network, we are supporting more diverse suppliers to increase access to capital for women and people of color. We are delighted to be working with Morgan Stanley and our co-inaugural investors on this important initiative.”

“We are pleased to expand our impact-oriented client offerings with the addition of Next Level, and we are proud to partner with like-minded companies that share our commitment to delivering positive social impact through compelling investment opportunities,” said David N. Miller, Head of Private Credit and Equity, Morgan Stanley Investment Management. “Our differentiated approach can help to increase access to capital for women and diverse founders in our target sectors.”

The Next Level Fund is based and operated out of Morgan Stanley’s New York headquarters. Debevoise & Plimpton has been retained as counsel for the Fund.

About Morgan Stanley Investment Management

Morgan Stanley Investment Management, together with its investment advisory affiliates, has more than 730 investment professionals around the world and $1.4 trillion in assets under management or supervision as of March 31, 2021. Morgan Stanley Investment Management strives to provide outstanding long-term investment performance, service and a comprehensive suite of investment management solutions to a diverse client base, which includes governments, institutions, corporations and individuals worldwide. For further information about Morgan Stanley Investment Management, please visit www.morganstanley.com/im.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services. With offices in more than 41 countries, the Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. For more information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.

Contacts

Media Relations Contact: Lauren Bellmare, 212.761.5303

How to Raise Money for Your LGBT Owned Business: Part II

So you’ve prepared yourself for the task of raising money in Part I of this guide – but now what? You’ll need to look at all the options to see which one suits your small business. So what are the best, most realistic ways to get funding?

Eight ways to raise funds

The traditional ways to raise money were through personal savings, bank loans, or retirement funds. But now there’s a much wider range of possible finance sources for your new business. So which type of funding is right for you?

1 Personal saving or retirement funds

If you have some savings you could use them to finance your business. The advantage here is you shouldn’t have to pay interest on the money and you won’t have an obligation to anyone else.

Using retirement funds is another option. It may be possible for you to draw down funds from your 401(k) to put into your business.

Regulations vary between countries, so you’ll need to consult a financial adviser to see what’s permitted. Be sure to check the tax implications of using personal savings or retirement funds for business purposes.

2 Bank loans and credit

Banks can be useful sources of funding, but the loans or credit they provide will usually have to be secured. That means you’ll have to offer something of value as collateral. This could be your house, or your company’s inventory or accounts receivable ledger.

If you fail to repay the loan, the bank may then take your collateral. That could mean you have to sell your house or stock or lose your income. So it’s not a transaction to enter into lightly.

Banks can offer the following funding services to help your company grow:

  • Loans
    These provide a specific amount of credit to purchase assets or meet financing needs. The loan is repaid based on a predetermined schedule or through monthly principal and interest payments. Interest rates are usually fixed for the life of the loan.
  • Lines of credit or business overdrafts
    These tend to be used for periodic financing. You can borrow up to your credit limit whenever needed.
  • Equipment financing
    Buying equipment can be a good option if you expect it to have a long, useful life. You may also benefit from financial advantages such as depreciation and tax deductions.
  • Real estate loans (mortgages)
    These are loans for purchasing land or commercial property.
  • Vehicle financing
    This is usually for buying or leasing commercial vehicles such as trucks or company cars.

The authority to lend to businesses has become centralized in some countries. This leaves branch bank managers with less power than they had in the past. But you’re still more likely to be given a loan if you have an existing account with the bank since they can easily check your past financial record.

3 Credit card loans

Loans from credit card companies are usually unsecured, which means you won’t lose your house if you fail to repay the loan (though you could still be declared bankrupt).

However, the lack of collateral is reflected in the price. Credit card loans can have a higher interest rate than other types of loans ­which are often much higher.

Ask yourself if your business can afford the interest rate being charged. If your company’s profit margin is forecast to be 10% and the credit card interest rate is 15%, the numbers might not add up.

4 Government grants and small business loans

Many governments offer grants and loans to small businesses, either directly or through publicly­ funded organizations such as small business associations.

The available funds and the terminology will vary depending on the country you’re in. Small business loans, micro­loans, and research grants are often available for different types of business.

Your first step should be to contact small business organizations near you since they will help administer government loans and grants. Talk to them and find out what financial assistance is available.

5 Venture capitalists and angel investors

Venture capitalist (VC) organizations became more prominent during the late 1990s dotcom boom, and the technology field is still one of their preferred areas of operation. VCs tend to favor high ­risk and high­ reward companies that have significant growth potential.

It’s a gamble for them, but the pay­offs can be significant. They usually demand significant equity in the company in return for funding, so be prepared to hand over a large percentage of ownership if you go down the VC route.

Angel investors are similar to VCs but they tend to work with companies that are at an earlier stage of development. The money comes from wealthy individuals, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership. A recent trend is for angel investors to participate in groups, working together on research, investment capital, and advice.

Venture capitalists and angel investors will want you to answer the following questions in detail:

  • How many customers do you have today and how do you plan to grow?
  • When and how will your business be profitable?
  • Who are the leaders in the company and what is their experience?

Don’t be surprised if any funding deal includes side­lining you as executive manager or director. The VC or angel investor may not think you have the skills and experience to grow the company and repay their investment. If this is the case, they could want to replace you with someone who does.

6 Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding means getting finance from a large pool of backers. Instead of asking just one or two people for money, you can ask thousands or even millions. People pledge money in return for perks and rewards when your project goes ahead, and usually, this is done online. Crucially, crowdfunding sites use an all­-or-nothing funding model – either the funding goal is reached, or the project gets nothing.

Before you look at this as an option, make sure you get expert legal advice about your country’s jurisdiction on crowdfunding.

If you are able to use crowdfunding, it offers an alternative to conventional funding, with less stringent credit checks, better-­informed investors, and often no need for collateral. And the funding process is often faster than it would be from a bank. This is a great option for some companies that will have struggled through the recession and have poor credit ratings as a result or others that are new and so have no credit record at all.

Crowdfunding can also provide useful feedback on your business plan. If you reach your funding goal, it’s a good indication that your plan has a realistic chance of success. If you don’t, you might need to rethink your plan.

Two of the most well­ known crowdfunding sites are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The former is US ­focused while the latter is smaller but with more international support. If you want to use either of these crowdfunding sites, you’ll need to check that they’re available from your country.

For more about crowdfunding, here’s a list of 30 people you might want to follow.

7 Peer-­to-peer lenders

Similar to crowdfunding sites, peer­-to-peer­ (P2P) lenders match borrowers and lenders directly. This is usually done via online auctions and without going through a traditional financial institution like a bank.

The rates can therefore be more favorable to both sides. Borrowers tend to pay less than bank lending rates, while lenders get a higher (though more risky) return on their savings.

While crowdfunding provides finance for new businesses or specific projects, peer­-to-peer­ lending can be used for more general purposes.

It works a lot like eBay. You post the amount you need on a peer­-to-peer­ lending site, along with the maximum interest rate you’re willing to pay. Lenders can then choose how much to lend to you, and at what rate. Examples include Prosper in the US and Zopa in the UK.

Again, like crowdfunding, the jurisdiction in your country may prevent you from using P2P lending, so make sure you get legal advice before proceeding.

8 Friends and family

It can be tempting for you to borrow money from friends and family, but it can also go badly wrong. There’s a simple psychological reason for that. Relationships are based on emotions, while business is (or should be) based on rational decisions. The two rarely mix well.

If you have a strong relationship with the friend or family member from whom you plan to borrow from, this can be a low ­cost source of finance for your business. But it can create an emotional liability as well as a financial one. This is the case particularly if you borrow from people who don’t have much business experience.

If you do decide to borrow from friends or family, have a clearly ­written legal document explaining your agreement. That way, if there are any problems later on, at least you’ll both have something in writing to refer to.

Adapt to the current financial climate

Banks are cautious about lending to small businesses at the moment. One reason for this is because they’re rebuilding the capital they lost during the financial crisis. In addition to this, many of them don’t understand the business models of some newer companies. They also tend to be more focused on real­ estate lending, because the collateral is tangible and fixed.

But low-interest rates around the world mean that many cash-­rich organizations and individuals are chasing yield. If you can present a compelling business plan, you stand a good chance of getting funding from less conventional sources.

Do your research to get the best option

Crowdfunding, peer­-to-peer lending, government grants and loans, venture capitalists, angel investors, and more offer plenty of possibilities. In fact, the funding landscape is changing all the time. For example, companies such as Kabbage offer working capital advances based on real­-time business metrics.

Do your homework and use good quality accounting software to test out different financial scenarios, to see what funding your business really needs. Then compare the risks and benefits of the choice. Steer clear of disreputable lenders and make sure you understand the implications for your business. When you take your time and investigate all the funding options thoroughly, you’ll find one that’s right for your business.

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How to Raise Money for Your LGBT Owned Business: Part I

Starting a new business can be expensive, so it makes sense to seriously consider investment options right from the beginning. However, first you’ll need to be well prepared for the obligation that comes with getting funding, the questions to ask, and the small print to consider. So how can you prepare for this?

Challenges faced by small businesses starting out

Some businesses can be launched without much capital. For example, if you’re planning to provide remote services while working as a sole proprietor, you may need nothing more than a laptop and an internet connection.

But other types of businesses need money to get started. If you intend to launch a business that needs significant capital expenditure (such as a retail or manufacturing business or a company that employs several other people), you won’t get far without initial funding.

Seven questions to be ready to answer

Whoever lends you money will want to know you’re serious about investing it to grow your business. They will also want to know that you’ll be able to pay back the loan principal and the interest.

Make sure you have the answers to these important questions at your fingertips when talking to a potential investor:

  1. How much money do you want to raise?
  2. Will you be able to provide any collateral? What are your assets?
  3. Are you looking for debt, equity or other financing?
  4. How is your business credit rating? You can check this yourself in many countries.
  5. How is your personal credit rating? This too ­– and yes, the banks will check.
  6. How long have you been in business?
  7. What is your revenue?

Use professional accounting software to prepare charts and forecasts of your costs and revenue. This will help convince lenders that you have a solid business plan in place.

Always read the fine print

The terms and conditions of most loan agreements include the option for the lender to call in the loan at any time. That means the lender can ask for all their money back, with little or no notice, and regardless of whether you’ve been paying on time up to that point.

This doesn’t happen often, but when it does it can be devastating. Unfortunately it happens most often during recessions, when banks and other lenders become more nervous about the likelihood their loans won’t be repaid.

This is just one reason why you should read the fine print of any loan agreement carefully. Get legal advice if necessary, and work with your accountant or financial planner to determine how much you can safely borrow. Make sure you understand all the terms of the loan before you sign.

Understand the cost of investment

When raising money for your business, you’re unlikely to get something for nothing. Your investors will want something from you in return for risking their funds:

  • For bank or credit card loans
    The cost to you is the interest rate and the risk of losing any collateral you’ve put up.
  • For angel investors and venture capitalists
    The cost is usually a percentage of ownership or control of your company.
  • For crowdsourced funds
    It’s whatever you’ve pledged to deliver in exchange for the money raised.
  • For friends and family
    It could be any of the above plus the risk of ruining a good relationship if things go wrong.

In other words, getting funding creates an obligation. It means you have a responsibility to make the most of the money you’ve been given.

That might seem like a challenge, but on the plus side it can help you to focus on your business and concentrate on making it a success.

Once you have the money, make it work for you. Use good quality accounting software to keep track of the amount you’ve borrowed, what you use it for and how much you pay back over time. Read Part II of this guide for eight ways you can raise funds for your small business.

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