February 12, 2024

Bridging the Equity Gap

In the world of startups, where every founder’s dream is steeped in ambition and potential, the reality of securing funding paints a starkly different picture — a picture where disparity and inequity loom large. At ACT House, we’re not just observing this landscape; we’re actively reshaping it. Our ACT Accelerator program is a catalyst for change, especially for Black and Latino-led startups who have been historically sidelined in the venture capital arena.

Olaoluwa Adesanya, Founder of PalmPlug, at Demo Day

The stark reality of funding inequity

Since 2020, a concerning trend has emerged: funding to Black founders has been on a consistent decline, hitting a new low in 2023, where they received a mere 0.13% of all investment capital in the US. This grim statistic is not just a number — it’s a barrier to innovation, diversity, and community empowerment. The discrepancy in pre-seed funding, with an average of $105k for white founders and $35k for Black and Latino founders, sets these communities back right from the start.

How we’re doing things different

Here at ACT House, we challenge this status quo head-on. Our accelerator program offers $70,000 in capital to each participating startup, free of interest and equity. In essence, we want to become the new “friends & family round” for founders to make up for the financial disparity of pre-seed funding. This revolutionary approach ensures that founders can scale their ventures without forfeiting their potential for wealth creation and community contribution. While this may seem merely charitable to some, the reality is the opposite: it’s an investment.

These terms are merely determined by historical data. Strategically locating to Tulsa, OK, we get to use past blueprints to help shape our future. Before the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921, Tulsa was the epicenter of Black wealth and success. Given that Black individuals give back to their community at four times the rate of their white peers, our investment doesn’t just seed businesses; it sows the seeds of broader communal growth and resilience.

A glimpse into the accelerator experience

Our ACT Accelerator is a carefully crafted 6-month journey divided into incubation and implementation phases. The initial 3 months require founders to be present in Tulsa, engaging in rigorous workshops that cover everything from brand development and finding your unique value proposition to financial modeling and investor negotiations. The breadth and depth of our tactical programming ensures startups to think and play bigger regarding their product/service as they enter the market with clear differentiators. Our portfolio companies enter the accelerator as founders and leave as executives.

The intensity of the program is matched by the rigor of our selection process, seeking founders who are adaptable, eager to learn, and voracious in their pursuit of growth. And because of the high-paced and high-impact ecosystem, the community of entrepreneurs, leaders, partners and funders that backs these dreams is incomparable to anywhere we’ve been.

ACT Accelerator Cohort 4 kicks off strategic retreat

Impact and transformation: beyond numbers

To date, the ACT Accelerator has propelled 35 startups forward with a total of $2.45M in funding, leading to over $10M in follow-on capital. More than just financial metrics, the program has been a launchpad for creating 114 jobs and generating over $2M in revenue for 2022 alone. These figures represent more than success stories; they embody the dreams realized, barriers broken, and communities uplifted. This is the type of work that fuels us to keep going.

Dominick Ard’is, CEO of ACT House, connects with founders

And this is just the beginning…

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is not just external; it’s woven into the very fabric of our team. We mirror the world around us, striving to see the diversity of our society reflected in the startup landscape.

We’re opening applications for Cohort 6 soon! Make sure to follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and our newsletter to get key updates and news.

Read the full article here:

Open Article   →