Washington Department of Commerce Helps Launch ‘Equal Innovation Accelerator’

Find Ventures Co-Founder, Elizabeth Scallon (WeWork Labs Photo)

A new program to provide early-stage funding to technology startups in Washington state founded by entrepreneurs who are Black, women, refugees or from marginalized communities other history.

New attempt, Fair Innovation Accelerator, will support ten tech startups with up to $100,000 in philanthropic grants, programming, and access to mentorship. The Accelerator is a joint program of the Washington State Department of Commerce and Search for a business.

“Getting to the first rounds of funding is very difficult for a brand new startup founder, especially if they are Black, Latinx, Aboriginal, Black, Women, LGBTQIA+, or not. must be binary. Accessing startup funding is not possible for those without the connections to mentors, investors, talent, and resources,” said the Find Ventures co-founder. Elizabeth Scallon in a press release. “Find Ventures wants to change that model.”

Scallops, formerly the leader WeWork Labs for Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, now based at Amazon, founded Find Ventures last year with Justin Brotman, son of Jeffrey Brotman, the Costco co-founder. The fund offers “undiluted” awards that do not require startups to give up equity or ownership. Founders are encouraged to sign a non-binding commitment that they will in turn support the fund when sustainable revenue or Series B funding is achieved.

The new prizes will be distributed through the accelerator and funded by private donors; that funding is still being secured. The Washington State Technology Industry Association will also support the accelerator’s program.

Only 1.2% of venture capital invested in US startups in the first half of 2021 went to Black startups, according to Crunchbase. And that’s a higher percentage than any previous year: in 2020 that number is just 0.6%.

Startups with female founders only raised 2.2% of VC capital in the first 8 months of 2021, the lowest level in 5 years, Crunchbase also reported.

The commercial division will provide funding for the development and operations of the initiative as part of the Level “Secure Boot” from the US Economic Development Administration.

“Find Ventures and the Washington State Department of Commerce share a common vision and passion to create a world where all entrepreneurs have the opportunity to build companies and confidently tackle our biggest challenges.” , especially those who have difficulty accessing traditional sources of capital,” said the commercial director. Lisa Brown in a statement.

Other commerce department initiatives focused on underrepresented communities include Small Business Flexible Fund, backed by $30 million from the ministry and $40 million from several banks. Fund provided low-interest loans of up to $150,000 to more than 110 small businesses since their inception this summer.

In addition, department Small Business Resilience Network connects small businesses with technical and business support, and it’s coming soon Washington Opportunity Network to connect businesses affected by the pandemic to support. Application information events for the new accelerator program take place on December 6 and January 14.

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