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, in conjunction with Grid110, a nonprofit accelerator with demonstrated experience serving women entrepreneurs and people of color, has selected 20 Black and Latinx-led businesses to receive funding and mentorship through its new Fund for South LA Founders.
In 2020, PledgeLA created the Fund for South LA Founders in direct response to racial and economic inequities that came to the forefront of the national conversation during the pandemic. A project of AnnenbergTech, the LA Latino Chamber of Commerce, SLATE-Z, and other community partners, the fund is designed to provide startup capital and mentorship to Black and Latinx-led businesses based in South Los Angeles.
The fund is awarding capital directly to rising, innovative entrepreneurs of colour who have not yet raised a lot of outside capital. Unlike many funds given to business entrepreneurs, PledgeLA’s Fund for South LA Founders does not take any equity in exchange.
“We recognised that even a small ‘friends and family’ round can potentially transform an early product idea into a sustainable, growing business,” said Austin Clements, Managing Director of Grid110, “But in addition to capital, we wanted to equip these founders with guidance and mentorship from some of LA’s most successful startup founders.”
These founders will learn from their peers through collaborative exercises and hear lectures from experts of various business functions. The program aims to position the innovative companies to have a sound go-to-market strategy and will be well-positioned to become leaders in their respective categories.
The program is also helping these founders build strategic relationships by connecting them to top-notch mentors who have scaled businesses themselves. The CEOs of companies like Everytable, FabFitFun, Tala, and The Bouqs will each mentor one of the 20 founding teams. To ensure these entrepreneurs have the skills and capacity they need to thrive, the AnnenbergTech initiative is also funding a tailored 12-week training program with
The PledgeLA + Grid110 cohort received over 200 applications. An experienced panel of judges from LA’s tech, venture capital, and social impact sectors interviewed a smaller group of finalists, selecting the 20 businesses for the grant and final Winter 2021 cohort (the full list can be found here).
Of the 24 participating entrepreneurs in the first cohort, 100% identify as either a person of colour or a woman. Nearly 60% of businesses were founded by a woman, and all have a demonstrated connection to the South Los Angeles region. In January 2021, the group of 20 businesses will kick off a 12-week accelerator, designed to help each of them address specific milestones as they receive mentorship and non-equity capital.