Atlanta Tech Village last week held its graduation party for their inaugural cohort It Takes a Village pre-accelerator which provides access to resources and capital for minority and women entrepreneurs.
The early-stage startups that participated squashed expectations, with some even landing deals with mega companies such as Delta and Porsche.
“I am so proud to know this incredible, strong, diverse group of Founders,” said Karen Houghton, Vice President at Atlanta Tech Village (ATV). “In just 6 months our pre-accelerator startups received $200k in investments, landed $85k in sales, earned 4 pilots with enterprise companies and 2 received accelerator offers. They worked hard, hustled harder, and became like family. We look forward to watching them continue to grow and achieve much-continued success.”
Justin McLeod leads the program, a young visionary who arrived at ATV through a diversity initiative himself. The entrepreneur is also the CEO and founder of Surthrive, an innovation-driven marketing agency that organizes and hosts big events all over the city.
“It’s the inclusion aspect, so once you come into the building, you are going to have that sense of community,” said McLeod. “We said, let’s create a program around it. Let’s find 10 to 11 startup founders that look alike, that have the same struggles, not just from on the entrepreneurial side, but on the cultural side underneath technology, and get them inside this community.”
"I am so proud to know this incredible, strong, diverse group of Founders. They worked hard, hustled harder, and became like family. We look forward to watching them continue to grow and achieve much-continued success."
It Takes A Village is a 6-month program geared toward providing opportunity to gain direct access to community, education, mentorship, and capital. Throughout founders are exposed to investors, a rigorous curriculum, and resources to help their startups scale and grow.
Lisa Jones, the founder of EyeMail, said the program has been a game changer in her entrepreneurial journey.
“They take the time to work with each individual founder to determine what’s best for them,” said Jones. “How do we collaborate, how do we help them to engage with other companies, how do you plan and strategize your growth map, thinking about the end game and working backward. So they’ve been instrumental. Even the environment, the collaborative environment has made all the difference in the world.”
Jones secured a deal with Porsche USA, a truly rewarding development for someone who quit her corporate job to be a full-time entrepreneur. When asked how she was able to make such a big achievement happen in only a year and a half, she pinpointed it to the entrepreneurial desire to dig deep.
“It’s like you go for it, no matter what it is,” said Jones. “Even in your lonely nights, you make something happen and keep progressing forward. So it feels freaking amazing.”
It Takes a Village – Diversity and Inclusion Pre-Accelerator [Video courtesy Atlanta Tech Village]
In fact, research indicates underserved communities face more challenges building and sustaining successful startups. When talking about turning an idea, startup, or hustle into a viable business, the resources and connections are a key component for upward success to profit.
The It Takes a Village program provided that foundation, according to veteran John Thomas, founder of RedBag Gifts.
“For me, it really opened my eyes,” said Thomas. “I’m used to having a business. But I think what the village actually teaches you is how to build a sustainable, scalable business, how to use those networks, how to use those partnerships and how to frame the business so that it is more likely to succeed.
They are the newest members of the Atlanta tech startup ecosystem, poised to provide innovation to their respective industries including medical, event planning, home care, child care, and more. Here’s a list of all the It Takes A Village founders and their respective startups.
The applications for the second cohort are now open. Anyone interested can complete the form here. The deadline is July 31st.
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