Atlanta Tech Village is back at it again with the It Takes A Village Pre-Accelerator Program to give women-and minority-led firms the chance to accelerate the growth of their emerging startups.
Much like the inaugural program, the second cohort will gain direct access to community, education, mentorship, and capital. Throughout the 6-month program, the 11 selected participants will access in-depth knowledge in a myriad of ways. Offerings include weekly pitch practice, regular meetings with mentors and advisors, workshops on topics such as customer discovery, building a team, and much more.
The initiative is designed to give underrepresented founders the tools to get to the next level. This could be anything from acquiring new customers, raising seed capital, or even earning a spot in a reputable accelerator program.
ATV’s Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager Justin McLeod said what he’s most excited about is bringing in minority founders who have made huge milestones on their entrepreneurial journeys to share their stories with the cohort members.
“We’re bringing in different successful founders,” said McLeod. “We’re bringing in founders that are a year or two ahead of the last cohort. So founders who have been in accelerator programs, who have raised capital, but they’re young.”
It Takes a Village – Diversity and Inclusion Pre-Accelerator [Video courtesy Atlanta Tech Village]
“We have Christian Zimmerman with Qoins, he just closed a $750,000 dollar seed round but he started as an intern at ATV,” said McLeod. “We have Jessica Legge with Sifted. She grew her business to a million dollars in revenue in a year in a half and she’s a woman.”
In fact, being a woman or diverse founder at the helm of a technology-enabled startup means you face far more obstacles compared with white male counterparts. For example, Latinxs are creating businesses at a faster rate than the average for entrepreneurs according to a Stanford Business article, however, like African Americans, they only receive a fraction of venture capital funding.
The number of funding for women is also still low with this group receiving just two percent of all VC dollars, in addition to facing skepticism from traditional investors over their ability to build successful revenue-generating companies.
Fortunately, the It Takes A Village Pre-Accelerator Program clearly demonstrates that given the exposure, mentorship, and capital, women and minorities can far exceed expectations. Being able to tap into a network like ATV is also key for African-Americans and Latinx who may not have the connections and generational wealth to get their startups off the ground.
“The opportunity to collaborate and engage with fellow innovative founders on the journey served as an inspiration to always recognize that every little step towards the goal matters and that you are not alone,” said Lisa Jones, CEO of EyeMail Inc., who graduated from the inaugural It Takes A Village pre-accelerator program.
“A lot of time as entrepreneurs, we work in silos but it was amazing to be able to tap or plug-in to all of the talent resources and thought leadership here at The Village,” adds Jones. “The Village also guided me to realize there is so much power in collaboration and taking the time to say hello and engage with other Villagers in the building, as they may be able to provide great advice and solutions in many business areas. By being in the village and the cohort experience helped me to also think about what company values I want my company, EyeMail Inc., to stand for, as this is critical in setting the foundation for growth and the culture.”
The program will culminate with a graduation-style party where the companies who have successfully completed the program will pitch to members of Atlanta’s startup ecosystem. Read our review here of the inaugural graduation.
Here are the founders accepted in the second cohort:
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