After navigating the pivot to a virtual model for its first cohort, Impact Ventures has named the new members of its 2020 fall accelerator cohort. And the all virtual-model has allowed the nonprofit organization to expand its reach across the U.S. while continuing to drive a place-based approach to North Texas.
Focused on early-stage, high growth tech and CPG businesses, especially those with female founders or founders of color, Impact Ventures has included 29 startups in its multi-track program.
The 12-week program kicked off at the beginning of the October and runs through January, capping off with a demo day.
Last cohort, Impact Ventures saw more than 160 applicants from 22 different countries. The ones selected went on to raise nearly $500,000 and create 46 new jobs.
For Impact Ventures, the focus on creating a funding and growth platform for underrepresented founders is key. For this cohort, the organization is preparing to launch an integrated capital fund that will work in parallel with the accelerator with the ability to debt and equity fund individual businesses. Part of that funding will come from a recent partnership with Capital One and Paul Quinn College.
“We believe that investing flexible integrated capital, technical assistance and mentorship in talented, yet underestimated women and entrepreneurs of color can build economic power, create generational wealth and restore the productive capacity of communities of color. This is our aim,” Vann said.
In addition, the cohort’s group of 70 mentors will be divided into groups of three to four that will be dedicated to work with individual startups to address specific needs and create achievable milestones. Impact Ventures is also looking for additional interested investors to participate in investor office hours.
“We’ve really built the program around the entrepreneurs needs,” Vann said. “For us, it’s not so much about pushing a big number of entrepreneurs through a few workshops and events and saying we’re supporting diverse founders, but truly rolling up our sleeves and diving into the weeds with them and producing quality entrepreneurs that a technically sound and capital ready.”
Vann said one of the main barriers of entry for underrepresented founders is a lack of ecosystem and network around them, something Impact Ventures is hoping to create in the local scene. Nationwide, more than 80 percent of VC firms don’t have a single Black investor. Only 1 percent of VC-backed founders are Black. And only 3 percent of VCs are Black.
“We see the roles of investors, or what we call enablers of innovation, very critical,” Vann said. “The biggest key to this role is understanding that we should not only be seeking to shift capital into the hands of founders from all backgrounds and economic status but we should also seek to shift the power of who gets to decide said capital and resources.”
Meet the members of the Fall 2020 IV Accelerator cohort below (descriptions provided by Impact Ventures).
Fall 2020 Growth Track:
- AccessMyResearch (Richardson, TX) – A nonprofit social network platform removing barriers between academia, industry and the public. The social platform simplifies sharing research for academics and offers free services to tech and medical companies, research labs and institutes and individuals who are seeking access to cutting edge research across the globe.
- AlgoPear (Dallas, TX) – A marketplace that automates stock trading by connecting retail traders with proven algorithms to consumers looking to maximize profits, minimize risk and democratize wealth.
- NeoCurly (Richardson, TX) – A platform that educates African-American women about their hair, conducts surveys to gather data about each customer and formulates products that cater to women.
- SWYE360 (Frisco, TX) – An all-in-one collaborative e-learning platform for teachers to deliver teaching to students anywhere, synchronously and asynchronously. With one login, teachers, students and parents will have access to their daily needs, combining the fragmented world of online education.
- XR Sports Group (Frisco, TX) – XR Sports is a B2B white label software solution that hosts and powers digital gaming platforms for traditional entertainment properties, such as pro sports teams, college conferences, celebrity influencers and physical venues, such as movie theaters.
- ClassHook (San Francisco, CA) – ClassHook helps teachers find educational scenes from popular TV shows and movies to meaningfully engage their students and spark their curiosity. Teachers in over 12,000 schools use ClassHook’s web-based platform to increase student engagement by 66 percent on average.
- Codubee (Austin, TX) – Codubee provides underrepresented minorities with tech internship experience when a traditional internship is not possible.
- EDUrain (St. Louis, MO) – EDUrain is a marketplace that aggregates financial aid, scholarships and off-campus housing to provide unprecedented ease of access for college-bound students.
- Fischr Media (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN) – A media company focused on bringing authentic, diverse and empowerment-based stories from the Midwest region to national mainstream audiences. Currently working with 215+ educational institutions across 12 states to distribute content to younger audiences.
- ForwardEdge AI (San Antonio, TX) – Leverage emerging technologies including AI, blockchain, machine learning, robotic process automation, and swarm intelligence to solve complex problems of social consequence.
- HairVoyage (Anchorage, AK) – Beauty tech marketplace company connecting beauty professionals globally for paid peer mentorship experiences.
- Hoovie (Vancouver, Canada) – Social cinema platform that allows viewers to meaningfully engage around a movie and provides just compensation to independent filmmakers.
- TheClub (Ewing, NJ) – TheClub is an interactive live streaming app that enables DJs and other entertainers to seamlessly earn income while streaming.
Fall 2020 Startup Track:
- Double Bottom Line (Dallas, TX)– Diversity, Equity, Inclusion training and workforce development training services, targeting organizations.
- 3D Keebs (Dallas, TX)– Online store specializing in providing the North American custom mechanical keyboard community access to the basic components required to build a custom mechanical keyboard.
- Tulia (Fort Worth, TX)– App-based online platform featuring an event service provider marketplace where users can shop and purchase directly on the platform with confidence.
- Ex Nihilo Training (Dallas, TX)– Health and wellness offerings including differentiated personal training, counseling services, and spiritual counseling.
- Ilera Market (Portland, OR)– Wholesale shopping club and lifestyle brand committed to elevating “woke” herbalists. We not only provide discounts on raw materials and supplies to help grow their businesses, we also provide education and office hours to give them the knowledge to succeed.
- PoA (St. George, UT)– Provides business tools for the gig economy including freelancers, independent contractors, influencers, entertainers, artists, athletes, nonprofits, etc.
- ROSA the Wellness Pal (Saint Louis, MO)– Web-based wellness application that provides a safe space for instructors to provide differentiated social emotional learning to all of their learners.
- Billing Blocks (Coppell, TX)– A healthcare billing, payment, and clearing house platform based on Blockchain that connects patients, providers, and payers.
- Praxsim VR (Charlotte, NC)– VR based medical training solution with simulation capabilities that supplement classroom medical education.
- Rainbow Resources (Dallas, TX)– App for entertainment, travel, professional advancement and networking for the LGBTQ community.
- Blackdatebox (Arlington, TX)– Subscription or one-time experience in a box for couples and relationships in the black community
- KeepUPosted (Garland, TX)– Influencer and content platform that enables businesses to collaborate with a community of influencers on demand
- Mentships (Grand Prairie, TX)– Online matchmaking platform that empowers upcoming and established professionals in finding mentorship relationships in the corporate world.
- Aspira Pura (Dallas, TX)– Minority-owned premium water company that features a great taste at 9.5ph+ Alkaline water, infused with electrolytes and UV and ozone treatment.
- Bizowna (Mansfield, TX)– Professional social network platform that connects underrepresented entrepreneurs, small business owners, and consultants.
- Trip’In (North Richland Hills, TX)– Provides a fresh, new road trip experience through a fleet of custom designed skoolies available for rental through an innovative app.