Nex Cubed, an early-stage innovation and startup accelerator, has just launched the HBCU Founder’s Program, the first-of-its-kind accelerator for HBCU talent.
The program helps students and recent alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) develop tech-enabled companies. The focus is on four growing sectors: fintech, edtech, digital health, and proptech, or real estate technology.
The inaugural initiative will accept approximately 350 budding entrepreneurs from 60+ HBCUs nationwide. After participating in a series of virtual workshops, those with the most promising business ideas will receive $10,000. They’ll also get the chance to pitch accredited investors in Silicon Valley and the opportunity to receive outside investment.
“While over 50% of our portfolio of 75 companies are led by female and minority founders, for us to have the impact that we’re looking to make, we knew that we could do more,” said Nex Cubed CEO, Marlon Evans. “We realized that we needed to start earlier in the process by working with students and recent alumni who might otherwise not have access to Silicon Valley and to funding.”
“There is a ton of talent at HBCUs that when plugged into the resources needed to be successful, the sky is the limit.”
Virtual programming kicked off in November. This comprises webinars and ideation sessions led by investors, savvy entrepreneurs, and corporate executives.
After completing programming, participants will be assigned an advisor who will critique and strengthen their business plans and investor presentations. They will also receive lifetime support and access to the Nex Cubed ecosystem; access to Nex Cubed’s Investor Network, and over $1 million worth of service provider discounts and perks.
Following on from the online session, participants will also be invited to pitch their business ideas during ideation sessions early next year. Those with the most promising concepts will then be selected to participate in the Nex Cubed HBCU Founder’s Summer Acceleration Program in Silicon Valley during the summer of 2021.
At the culmination of the HBCU Founder’s Summer Acceleration Program, cohort members will pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors. Winners will be selected to participate in the Nex Cubed 4-month acceleration program, which includes capital investment in their startup and dedicated advisory support.
“We realized that we needed to start earlier in the process by working with students and recent alumni who might otherwise not have access to Silicon Valley and to funding.”
“There is a ton of talent at HBCUs that when plugged into the resources needed to be successful, the sky is the limit,” said Evans. “We encourage the companies looking for a programmatic way to identify diverse talent, support entrepreneurship, and activate their employee base via mentoring and speaking opportunities to raise your hand. Together we can find a better way and accomplish even more.”
This initiative has already garnered the support of businesses and community organizations from across the U.S., most notably from the program’s lead corporate supporter, AT&T. In partnership with Nex Cubed, the telecommunications company recently unveiled a $10 million multi-initiative plan to provide economic opportunities to underrepresented communities in tech and entrepreneurship.
“These sectors are in desperate need of systemic reform that technology can help enable,” said Evans. “We’re committed to locking arms with entrepreneurs and organizations such as AT&T that share our belief that having a diversity of ideas and perspectives are both the right thing to do and good for business.”
In addition to AT&T, other corporations and community organizations that have raised their hand to support the program include Morgan Stanley, Cooley, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., ACT House, HBCU Nation, and Black Venture Capital Consortium, among others.
Dates for the industry webinars include a Digital Health panel discussion on December 3rd and a proptech panel discussion on December 10th. Individuals are encouraged to attend one of the upcoming virtual events. Applications will open in early 2021 for the summer accelerator.
Photo Courtesy of Nex Cubed