Good news for founders looking to make a splash this summer: 1863 Ventures has grants available for Black and Latinx founders building businesses in the DMV.
ICYMI, back in February the incubator launched its 3Rs program—which stands for recovery, rebuild, resilience— in partnership with Capital One and the Rockefeller Foundation. Through the program, 1863 announced it would be offering $5,000 grants to 100 entrepreneurs in the District, plus three months of business coaching. With the Rockefeller Foundation partnership, 1863 also offered the opportunity to 1,300 Black and Latinx-owned businesses in 13 additional cities. Five months and more reopening later, funding is still available to provide grants.
1863 Founder Melissa Bradley told Technical.ly that while the organization already had strong support for local businesses, it realized there was more to be done in the wake of COVID-19 and the resulting economic downturn.
“While we run cohorts two to three times a year, that was not a level of frequency that was really going to support entrepreneurs in need,” Bradley said. “And while we had a 92.5% survival rate amongst our businesses compared to 40% [of small businesses overall that make it past five years], we realized that there was a large swath of businesses that could benefit from our help.”
In addition to the funding, the grant recipients are eligible for three months of business coaching with a 20-hour requirement of one-on-one engagement with founders and experts. But the 3R program and subsequent Slack community are available to any local startup and business owner, offering access to weekly sessions and the library of previous talks since the program’s launch last fall. So far in the 3R program, Bradley said she’s seen a mix of founders already in business looking to pivot into something new, professionals who formerly worked in corporate America starting their own company and smaller startups who mostly started during the pandemic and are trying to ramp up.
When looking for founders to invest in via 3R, though, Bradley said 1863 is specifically seeking entrepreneurs and businesses with a minimum of $100,00 in annual recurring revenue. But she’s also on the hunt for unique businesses with a strong, sustainable plan, and many, she said, are often job creators in their communities, as well.
“[We’re looking for] people that are really being thoughtful and thinking outside the box of what they can do differently that can be sustained,” Bradley said. “I don’t think we know yet what the world is going to look like going forward, so it’s really important that they don’t think of a temporary pivot, but what are some longer-term, sustainable investments.”
Greg Johnson, managing director of U.S. equity and economic opportunity initiatives for the Rockefeller Foundation, added that the foundation wanted to get involved because it saw that Black and Latinx-owned businesses were not rebounding at the same rate as those owned by entrepreneurs from other groups following the pandemic. The primary reason for this, he said, was that they were not getting the same access to capital. This follows what many noted last year, which was that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were not reaching women and BIPOC businesses (the second round, issued earlier this year, seemed designed with more equitable investing in mind).
While $5,000 might seem like a small amount in the world of business investment, Johnson said that PPP application data showed that many Black, Latinx and women-owned businesses were looking for infusions of capital under $25,000. Plus, he said, one of the goals of the 3R program is to help companies get from one growth stage to the next.
“Founders of color, women founders do need coaching, they do need accelerators and incubators that provide professional services,” Johnson said. “But what they need more than both of those things are infusions of capital.”
Johnson said that following the success of this year’s cohort and investment fund, he expects the financial commitment to grow, meaning more founders could participate or larger grants could be offered. However, he does not expect the program to expand beyond the current 14 cities offered.
Along with the DC metro area, funds are available for founders in the following cities:
- Oakland, CA
- Chicago, IL
- Newark, NJ
- Louisville, KY
- Baltimore, MD
- El Paso, TX
- Gainesville, FL
- Boston, MA
- Houston, TX
- Miami-Dade, FL
- Norfolk, VA
- Atlanta, GA
- Jackson, MI
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