When Garry Johnson, founder of the Raising Kings “I Have a Dream” pitch competition for youth of color, started the First Founders Accelerator, he imagined a program that would help underrepresented people of all ages — not just youth — follow their entrepreneurial dreams.
With the help of New Castle County Innovates, 1313 Innovation and the Emerging Enterprise Center, First Founders has completed its inaugural 12-week cohort of a startup bootcamp designed to train early-stage, underrepresented entrepreneurs to develop scalable businesses.
It now has seven new up-and-coming startups to show for it.
“Our mission is to prepare underrepresented founders for success in the innovation economy,” Johnson told Technical.ly. “Over the course of 12 weeks, founders received mentorship from Dora Cheatham, Denita Henderson, Pedro Moore, Rysheema Dixon, Jessica Gibson and Gregory Whilby. Wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Tamarra Morris, the director of economic development, and Matt Meyer, county executive.”
Here are the first round of grads and their ventures (descriptions provided):
- Ireida Grabill, Language Liaisons — An organization providing translation, language tutoring and interpreting training, providing on-site qualified and certified interpreters in any community setting
- Constance Miles, TaMi CaRa Designs — Ready-to-wear fashion making every woman feel like she has the perfect body
- Kemba Hall, HairSense — A unifying social platform for hair, simplifying the hair care experience
- Moises Velazquez, Yummie Creative — A creative content company specializing in creating tasty ideas for hungry minds
- Michael Shumate, Keyhole Games — The Outcasts: Guardian Angel is a story-driven video game with an emphasis on mental health awareness and societal issues
- Geronimo Vannicola, WavLabs Studios — Recording, multi-genre mixing and mastering, custom production, scoring, sound design, education and community
- William Young and Amy Sassaman, Black Diamond — A social networking event and branding company spurring economic development and brand building through public-private partnerships in Delaware
Johnson says a virtual First Founders program will be launching soon. For more information about the programs, check out first-founders.com.-30-
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