Startups The PISLA Beat

MaC Venture Capital Raises $110 Million for Overlooked Tech Founders

The majority Black-led firm MaC Venture Capital just raised $110 million to invest in overlooked tech startups on the cusp of disrupting their industries.

MaC Ventures was founded by Marlon Nichols, Adrian Fenty, Michael Palank, and Charles D. King. The team’s large portfolio of leading companies includes Mayvenn, Mahmee, and Vantage Point.

“I want to build the best seed stage fund in the world,” Nichols told Forbes reporter Brianne Garrett. “The only way you can do that is to have a super team, and we thought if we came together it would be like the Avengers.”

For this Plug In South LA Beat, our regular curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, we find out what this new funding could mean for underrepresented founders:

Majority Black-led MaC Venture Capital Raises Inaugural $110 Million Fund to Invest in Emerging Tech Disruptors

Photo: Vantage Point founder and CEO Morgan Mercer. Credit: The Helm


Join Apple’s New Impact Accelerator for Black and Brown-Owned Businesses

Apple’s new Impact Accelerator for Black- and Brown-owned businesses is now open to applications. The program will provide access to targeted training, Apple experts, executive training to succeed as a supplier, and mentorship through an alumni network.

Eligible companies must be headquartered in the U.S. and be at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by an 
African American, Hispanic American/Latinx, or Indigenous American individual.

The Impact Accelerator is part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative to ensure more positive outcomes for communities of color. In January Apple committed $100 million to the effort. The Impact Accelerator also ties into the company’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

“This program is an ideal opportunity for tech entrepreneurs in our local ecosystem,” said Plug In South LA Founder Derek Smith. “We support Apple’s efforts to bring Black and Brown founders into their supply chain.”

Submissions are being accepted from eligible businesses that offer environmental solutions and services in:

  • Climate Change
    • Energy efficiency
    • Renewable energy
    • Direct emissions abatement
    • Carbon removal
  • Resources and Renewable Materials
    • Automation
    • Recycling innovation
    • Water stewardship
    • Zero waste
  • Smarter Chemistry
    • Product chemistry
    • Protecting people and the environment through green chemistry

There is no cost to participate and applications will be accepted until 11:59 pm Pacific on April 30, 2021. Apple plans to notify finalists in late June with selected participants starting the program in August.

Learn more and apply here.

Photo Credit: Apple Inc.

Startups The PISLA Beat

Latina-Owned Businesses Have $393 Billion Annual Revenue Potential

What does the U.S. economy need for a reboot? Latina business owners’ Midas touch, which has the potential to unlock $393 billion in revenue annually, according to Forbes contributor Sean Salas.

“Data shows that Latinas are entrepreneurial by nature, even when they’ve had to create and build their own opportunities with limited access to capital to grow their businesses,” Beatriz Acevedo, CEO of the fintech content platform SUMA Wealth, told Salas.

In today’s Plug In South LA Beat, our regular curation of relevant tech and innovation articles, let’s explore why Latinas have the unique power to generate sustainable economic growth in the U.S.:

The Midas Touch Of Her / Latina / Ella

Photo: Beatriz Acevedo, CEO of SUMA Wealth. Credit:

Startups The PISLA Beat

Local Program Leaves LA’s Cannabis Entrepreneurs in the Lurch

L.A.’s program for cannabis entrepreneurs was supposed to boost social equity when it started accepting applications in 2019. But serious delays since then have hurt the founders that the program promised to support.

“The halting rollout of the program has been especially galling to applicants at a time when L.A. is facing demands to reinvest in communities of color,” Emily Alpert Reyes wrote in the Los Angeles Times. “More legal cannabis shops could also help dampen L.A.’s budget problems, with tax revenue from marijuana businesses expected to jump 79% this fiscal year.”

In this edition of the Plug In South LA Beat, we look at how the city’s program has been draining local entrepreneurs:

L.A.’s Promise of Social Equity for Marijuana Businesses Has Been Painfully Slow for Entrepreneurs

Photo Credit: Esteban Lopez on Unsplash

Startups The PISLA Beat

Taj Eldridge Launches $250 Million Fund to Bridge the Opportunity Gap

Taj Eldridge, senior director of investments at LACI, observes that talent is universal but opportunity is not. He’s working to change this in many ways, most recently by launching a new $250 million fund called Include Ventures that’s focused on underrepresented entrepreneurs and investors.

“Some of the founders I talked to have said they don’t want to get funding just because they’re Black,” Eldridge told the L.A. Venture podcast. “And my thing is, well, I’ve seen the opposite side of it. I’ve seen not getting money because I’m Black. So, you know, right now, let’s just move things forward.”

For today’s curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, we go inside Eldridge’s approach to reducing the wealth gap — and its close connection to clean tech:

This Poet Turned Financier Is Raising Millions of Dollars to Fund Black and Latino Investors and Entrepreneurs

Photo: Taj Eldridge. Credit: Valence

Startups The PISLA Beat

Black Code Collective Co-Founder Shines Light on Tech Salaries

Taylor Poindexter found out about her own pay inequity almost by chance. While working as a tech consultant, she learned from speaking with a colleague that she earned less — despite having the same qualifications.

Now the co-founder of Black Code Collective, a community for Black software developers to share knowledge, is bringing more transparency to compensation in the tech industry. Poindexter created a tech salary survey and shared it with thousands of her Twitter followers.

“Quite a few Black and brown women have sent me messages either on Twitter or other communities I’m in through Slack and told me that since viewing the document, they’ve been brushing off the résumés and getting ready to go somewhere else,” she told Business Insider. For today’s Plug In South LA Beat, we go inside Poindexter’s efforts to raise the salary bar:

This Engineer Realized She Was Underpaid Thanks to Transparency with Coworkers. Now, Her Tech-Salary Survey Aims to Help Others.

Photo: Black Code Collective co-founder Taylor Poindexter. Credit: Taylor Poindexter on Twitter

Startups The PISLA Beat

How NFTs Could Bring Revenue to Black, Brown, and Latinx Creators

Non-fungible tokens — NFTs — seem to be everywhere right now. If you aren’t already up to speed on the explosion of this unique digital phenomenon, here’s a helpful primer.

NFTs are also the focus of a new TechCrunch Equity podcast that unpacks the numbers behind the headlines. Editor in chief Matthew Panzarino told the podcast that he’s excited about the way these tokens remap how creators can participate in the economy directly.

In this curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, let’s dig into what NFTs could actually mean for Black, Brown, and Latinx creators:

NFTs Are Changing Cultural Value Creation

Photo Credit: Christina @ on Unsplash

Startups The PISLA Beat

Black Girl Ventures Founder Shelly Bell Levels the Playing Field

Shelly Bell had to rely on personal funding to launch Black Girl Ventures, an organization that creates access to community, capital, and capacity for Black and Brown women founders. A tax return and $5,000 from her mother helped get the nonprofit off the ground in 2016.

Since then, Black Girl Ventures has raised over $2 million for the largest pitch program for Black and Brown women in the world, funded more than 130 women founders, and received a $500,000 investment from Nike.

In today’s curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, we check out Bell’s technology-based game plan for bridging the funding gap:

Leveling the Playing Field

Black Girl Ventures Founder Turned Tax Refund into $500,000 Investment from Nike

Photo: Black Girl Ventures founder and CEO Shelly Bell. Credit: Shelly Bell on LinkedIn

Startups The PISLA Beat

Why This Tech Entrepreneur Rejected the ‘CEO’ Title

Tiasia O’Brien is many things: tech entrepreneur, Afro-Latina, a qualitative research scientist, founder of the community empowerment startup Seam Social Labs. She’s also the company’s “head of strategy,” a title she selected instead of “chief executive officer.”

“I am every job description related to a chief executive officer, but I specifically chose a different term because I wanted to think about the impact of titles in corporate structures,” she wrote in a recent opinion article for Entrepreneur.

In our regular curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, we dig into the problematic history of the word “chief” that led to O’Brien’s decision:

Why I Said No to Being Called CEO

Photo: Tiasia O’Brien. Credit: Seam Social Labs

Startups The PISLA Beat

How Founder Donnel Baird Raised $63 Million for Climate Tech

Environmental retrofits on buildings can seem like a luxury, especially for low-income neighborhoods in major American cities. But climate tech entrepreneur Donnel Baird found a way to make them more accessible.

Baird is the founder and CEO of Brooklyn-based BlocPower, which uses data, thermodynamic models, structured finance, and edge computing to electrify buildings. Savings from lower energy bills helps building owners finance the retrofits. The company now has projects in 24 cities.

Recently Baird raised $63 million in Series A funding, which he says will help the company scale sustainability upgrades nationally. For today’s curation of innovation and tech articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, we zero in on Baird’s strategy for building his company:

Black-owned ‘Climate Tech’ Startup Making Inner Cities Greener Raises $63 Million

BK Climate Tech CEO Raises $63M to ‘Green’ Buildings, Slams North BK Pipeline

Photo: BlocPower founder and CEO Donnel Baird. Credit: BlocPower