1863 Ventures’ Emerging Entrepreneurs program graduates its fifth cohort, unveils new name

The early-stage accelerator, formerly known as Project 500, hosted its first graduation celebration for 15 founders.

1863 Ventures graduated its 5th cohort of its Emerge program Fall 2018.

(Courtesy photo)

1863 Ventures, formerly Project 500, recently graduated 15 founders from its Emerge Program and recognized the fifth cohort in its first public facing event at WeWork Navy Yard on November 19.

1863 Ventures’ Emerging Entrepreneurs program is an early-stage accelerator focused on helping entrepreneurs become better operators. The two-week, invitation-only program led by seasoned entrepreneurs and investors, walks participants through an educational experience with one-on-one coaching in areas like sales, finance and marketing. The goal of the program: provide participants with greater confidence in scaling their company and a community to support them along the way, the accelerator said in a statement.

“The only thing that many entrepreneurs lack is a viable pathway to scale and our data consistently shows that assisting them in being more intentional about scale results in reduced execution risk. Our goal is to provide what we call Contextual Technical Assistance to meet our folks where they are and give them a framework to become better operators,”Adeleke Omitowoju, Venture Partner at 1863 told

The graduation celebration included a fireside chat with Dr. Kristen Henderson, founder of ​Blk & Green, a presentation of the new graduates and a formal intro to the new 1863 Ventures name and vision moving forward.

Cofounded by Melissa Bradley who is an angel investor and Georgetown professor, 1863 Ventures was created to support the growth and scale of New Majority entrepreneurs while offering mentorship to entrepreneurs in underserved areas, DC previously reported.

“1863 Ventures has a vision of creating $100B of new wealth for new majority entrepreneurs in the next 10 years. This vision is predicated on the belief that entrepreneurship is a viable pathway to wealth creation for oneself and their communities,” Melissa Bradley, Managing Partner of 1863 told “The Emerge graduates are outstanding examples of entrepreneurs who are committed to solving real problems for communities beyond their own. I am excited about their trajectory and impact in D.C. and beyond over the next 6-12 months.”


Founders from these 15 companies make up the Emerge program’s fifth cohort:

  • Fertiquity
  • Happied
  • More than Cheer
  • Southeastern Roastery
  • Bold Xchange
  • Eventida
  • FILOS Bakery LLC
  • Culture Socks, LLC
  • Believe and Achieve Wellness
  • NGO Checker
  • Makeup America
  • The Friendship
  • Ivy’s Tea Co.
  • Tag Labs
  • R3Score

When Project 500 was founded in May 2016, the accelerator committed to helping 500 DMV entrepreneurs in three years and after 18 months, the company surpassed its expectations by serving 525 entrepreneurs of color ahead of schedule, Bradley reported in a Medium article. According to its website, last month the accelerator came up with a new strategic plan with the help of Deloitte to rebrand into 1863 Ventures and launched a new goal to create $100 billion of new wealth by and for new majority entrepreneurs.

But what’s the significance of 1863? Bradley explained in the Medium article that 1863 comes from the year that Congress signed the Emancipation Proclamation, causing the legislation change and cultural shift that was brought about by the freedom of African Americans from slavery (even though slavery wasn’t officially abolished until 1865 by Congress via the 13th Amendment).

“We are reclaiming the date — 1863 — a date that should have held great promise for us and choosing to rebrand and represent its potential and its power,” Bradley said in the Medium article.

The accelerator will continue to focus on helping small business owners scale and get more access to capital. 1863 Ventures is currently accepting applications for its Pipeline Program, which actively recruits and retains a pipeline of investment ready businesses who can scale through supply chain contracts, tech scouting and joint venture opportunities.

“1863 is the acknowledgment of the beginning of a process for all people of color — enslaved and marginalized — to find freedom. Enslaved by erroneous history, institutional racism, failing education systems, policy barriers and racist financial structures,” Bradley wrote on Medium. “We seek to support all the communities who have been and/or remain marginalized by institutions and individuals — especially African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans.”

Companies: Deloitte
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