Urban Tech Connect // Forward 2022 Beta

Startups The PISLA Beat

“Venture Capital may not be the only cure to your financial ailments.”

For any founder sources of capital are hard enough to come by as it is. Venture Capital is the most common and resourceful means of getting it. But what about the founders who dry up the well looking for the precious piece of gold that will lead them to bountiful success. There must be other means of reaching the holy grail of capital goals.

In an article done by TechCrunch Clearco co-founder and president Michele Romanow, and Pipe co-founder and co-CEO Harry Hurst. In the article, they sit down to discuss the various methods that firms can acquire funding and which would be the greatest channel for entrepreneurs.

However, Romanow and Hurst offered up that capital does not have to be “mutually exclusive.”

“I believe the largest companies in our portfolio are utilizing a variety of capital sources,” Romanow added. “I would advise you to conduct a study on what form of financing is appropriate for the stage of your business and the purpose for which it is being used. And I believe you’ll find that if you do that, you’ll end up being much less diluted at the end of the day. And you’ll find additional leverage over time, allowing you to scale much more quickly.”

According to Mathew, the majority of businesses are not a good fit for venture capital. “Venture investment is costly, and it comes with particular expectations depending on who you raise money from,” he said.

Romanow pointed out that whether a founder should seek venture capital or other forms of funding is primarily determined by their intended use of the funds. For example, if a firm needed money to buy inventory and advertising, venture financing would not be the ideal option. “It doesn’t make sense to give up significant equity at this level of the game to undertake something that’s a recurring and scalable expense with a fixed return,” Romanow said.

He explained that just because an investor rejects you once does not mean you should write them off permanently. Accel, according to Mathew, strives to be completely transparent with its feedback. “In fact, some of our best investments have come from saying to the creator, ‘No, not right now, but maybe later when you prove x, y, and z,’ and then revisiting,” he explained.
Misconceptions abound when it comes to venture capital and other alternative financing methods. One of the most common misconceptions about what Romanow’s organization does, according to her, is that it is the same as debt. “They possess your business if you don’t pay back your loan holders,” she warned. “So there’s a lot of risks there, and it’s late in the game.”

Original article done by TechCrunch: https://techcrunch.com/2021/10/03/why-and-when-startups-should-look-to-diverse-sources-of-capital/

Startups The PISLA Beat

“Female Founders On The Rise. “

COVID-19 set the precedent for the future in terms of Venture Capital fundraising. But even though funding increased that does not mean that there was an increase in the diversity of those who are receiving it. As it pertains to gender though, the divide is getting slimmer and slimmer.

In research done by PitchBook, in the first three quarters of 2021, female-founded companies raised $40.4 billion in 2,661 agreements, nearly twice the $23.7 billion raised in 2019 and more than ten times the $3.6 billion raised in 2011. It’s a hollow victory though as companies run by women are valued lower than their male counterparts. Despite rising, venture capital totals in general, women-founded startups in the United States saw their deal count fall by 2% and total dollars invested in their businesses dip by 3% in 2020.

Female-founded businesses raised fewer dollars from fewer rounds as the venture capital pool grew wider. According to PitchBook, female founders closed 150 to 200 deals per quarter in 2019, valuing $700 million to $950 million. So the dealings are increasing. Female-founded businesses are racking up significant exit numbers, and their performance is improving quicker than the general market.

The exit value of female-founded firms based in the United States has reached $58.8 billion, up 144 percent from 2020, according to the PitchBook-NVCA report. Exit totals in the bigger domestic venture market have increased by a relatively modest 102 percent during the same time period. The number of exits documented also supports those excellent dollar results: So far this year, 223 domestic female-founded firms have exited, a 12 percent increase over last year.

The numbers are increasing and money is being exchanged in the right hands. But all in all, is it at an acceptable pace?

This story was originally covered by Tech Crunch

Female founders are making a buzzing, venture-backed comeback


“Empire State of Mind”.

For a Billionaire like Jay-Z money is truly no object. Unless it’s a digital one. Jay-Z has now turned his head towards a real game-changer as of late, Bitcoin. Jay-Z and his Mercury Venture Partners are investing in spatial Labs (sLabs, a tech incubator that focuses on meta-verse and blockchain-related products.

SLabs was founded by Iddris Sandu, a Ghanian born and raised in Southern California at a young age Sandu showed an aptitude for tech. Sandu has worked with major businesses such as Apple, Google, and Facebook since he was 13 years old.

In a statement, Sandu said, “Aligning with Marcy Venture Partners supports our mission for uplifting the kids as it relates to access and a means to actual technical empowerment.” “This relationship’s long-term significance is characterized not just by the work we’re doing now, but by the immeasurable impact it will have on future generations of creators.” Sandu’s other credentials include Uber, Instagram, Beyoncé’s Ivy Park, Kanye West’s Yeezy, Rihanna’s Fenty brand, which are among the 24-year old’s very impressive partnership portfolio.

LNQ, the tech incubator’s first product, will be released next year. According to Billboard, Sandu’s goal with LNQ, a blockchain-enabled hardware platform, is to “give youthful innovators with better tools to leverage the metaverse when it becomes a reality.”

In a statement, JAY-Z said, “Iddris has a mindful world view and a youth-centric vision that is creative and refreshing to behold.” “We have similar ideas about how we want to affect people throughout our lives. Partnering with him on this journey and others is very exciting.”

This story was originally covered by our friends at Afrotech. Remember to subscribe to Urban Tech Connect Newsletter and get access to information, education, and people who can help accelerate your journey.


CannaGo: The Delivery System you will want to know about.

“Let’s be buds,” is a heart-warming sentiment from a group of young entrepreneurs who want to see a better world. Matthew Gaffney, N. Victor Nwadike, and Kevin Tolliver came together at a Morehouse info session. These three young men quickly realized that their talents could be brought together to advance something more significant than what they ever thought was possible. Each of them had assets in marketing, development, and engineering. So like any classic superhero origin story; they assembled and started their first endeavor, CannaGo.

In the age of CBD and its promotion, CannaGo takes the two things that people love in the age of COVID-19 home delivery and worry-free attitudes. If someone were a medical marijuana user, imagine being able to have a delivery option. USPHARMACIST.COM did a study that revealed that 80% of medical marijuana users are in chronic pain. The advantage of a delivery option speaks for itself. The team, though, has taken steps to ensure that they handle this most responsibly. Age verification is required to put an order into CannaGo, and the team dots their I’s and crosses their T’s with a secure dropoff and certified drivers.

“I hope this changes people’s lives by bridging the gap and ensuring that the masses have a standard way of accessing safe products,” stated N. Victor Nwadike, an engineer based out of Atlanta, Ga (where the recent Georgia Hemp Farming Act, HB 213 was passed). Canago is the first step into a brave new world for the three co-founders. They are currently in private funding as they take a step that will echo across the world.

Remember to subscribe to Urban Tech Connect Newsletter and get access to information, education, and people who can help accelerate your journey.

Startups Uncategorized

Tech Companies, let’s grow!

2020 saw new challenges that many of us have never faced before. Part of these new challenges offered new solutions that required innovation and outside-the-box thinking. At the forefront of this is the tech industry.

Thanks to a report done by Crunchbase. A record $137 Billion was invested into startups in the first half of 2021 alone. Sadly amongst that number, only 1.2% went into startups led by black entrepreneurs. This report was put together by Crunchbase over 1,393 contributors. The contributors are made up of Crunchbase Venture Program Partners, tech-journalists, Crunchbase’s data management team, and venture capitalists themselves. The Crunchbase researchers also added that Black entrepreneurs in the U.S raised nearly $1.8 Billion in the first half of 2021.

Within the decade tech companies have been scouting the city of Atlanta for its brightest and best. Atlanta has seen numerous startups within the last few years. Georgia also takes the cake with the highest record of funding with 8.4% of the venture funding going to founders of color. Georgia has become a hotspot for the industry with Silicon Valley and other high-profile companies now recruiting out of Atlanta.

Crunchbase’s senior data journalist provided ZDNET with some insight on this report,

“There is an increased interest and awareness around issues of racial justice in the venture world. Some positive signs are that more Black-led firms and funds have invested in Black and other underrepresented startup founders, more Black investors at traditional firms are being promoted to partner level, and a greater percentage of VC funding to Black startup founders is going into early-stage rounds, several of which have been quite large.”

Despite these disadvantages, Black startups have still been providing crazy numbers in funding. 1.2% is an increase from last year as black startups in 2020 raised approximately $1 Billion. The field for diverse and black-run tech companies is growing with expediency. The next step is getting these companies the materials to help support them.

Startups UTC 2021

“Google awards $100K in funding to secure diversity in tech industry.”

The emergence of COVID-19 brought a lot of deterrents in development, careers, and our personal lives. But with those negatives, there were some positives. We learned new ways to connect with each other. Devin Dixon is one of those people who are bringing about positivity during these challenging times. An entrepreneur, tech developer, and community connector is taking the bull that is the tech industry by the horns.

Starting to code at the age of 12, Dixon then went on to start his first business at the age of 19 while in college at UNC Wilmington, where he graduated with a degree in computer science and business. The serial entrepreneur, developer, teacher, and prodigy is now undergoing his next venture. Devin has been awarded the cash reward in Google’s “The Google Black Founders Fund”. The fund, which is designed to bring $100K in non-federal funding to startups to aid during the unexpected COVID-19, Google pledged $10 Million to be spread across 126 startup companies and their founders. Dixon, who is now the founder and C.E.O of “BingeWave”, is now a recipient of this award. Their crystal clear business model being, “Short Form Content That Generates Revenue For Short Films and Web Series, Have Revenue Generating Premieres”.

BingeWave is a live-streaming platform meant for marginalized content such as film to thrive, prosper, and be monetized. BingeWave also caters to web series, documentaries, book tours, podcasts, and musicians. But at the heart of all of Dixon’s many ventures is a heart for community growth. Dixon’s longing to bring people together is apparent in all his ventures. More recently Dixon has acted as a mentor in the Plug-In South LA Accelerator – Cohort 2 whose mission is to stimulate opportunities for businesses and their owners in Black and Latinx communities. At the heart of them is the drive to empower founders, entrepreneurs, and leaders who are under-represented in their fields.

Startups The PISLA Beat

The Pill Club is Revolutionizing Women’s Health with $41.9 Million in Funding

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 19 million women living in the United States are in need of publicly funded contraception and live in contraceptive deserts. Of the 19 million, about 1.3 million of these women live in a county without a single health center offering the full range of contraceptive methods- making it even more difficult to gain access to the birth control they need.

To assuage this, The Pill Club was launched in 2016. This online resource offers a prescribing service, medication fulfillment, and free delivery of birth control care packages, according to their website. Today, the company announced that they have raised $41.9 million in Series B funding.

“The idea of creating more choice and flexibility across healthcare is long overdue,” CEO of the Pill Club and former Uber exec, Liz Meyerdirk told TechCrunch.

For our regular curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, we take a look at how The Pill Club plans to use this funding to make women’s healthcare accessible to all:

The Pill Club takes on primary care with $41.9M in fresh funding

Photo Credit: The Pill Club

Startups The PISLA Beat

Inside Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson’s Quest to Solve VC’s Diversity Problem

In an entire venture capital industry worth almost $70 trillion, only 1.3% of assets are managed by women and POC, according to the nonprofit Knight Foundation.

To bridge this gap, Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson created VC Include with the goal of accelerating investment into diverse managers: women, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and LGBTQ. Her platform demonstrates that inclusion can promote higher return rates.

“Empowering organizations to utilize diversity as a driver for success needs to become a must-have feature for institutional investors,” Robinson told Forbes recently.

In today’s Plug In South LA Beat, we dive into how this innovative CEO is building a diverse VC ecosystem:

Meet the Female Founder and Impact Investor on a Mission to Expand Investment Opportunities for BIPOC and Female Venture Capital Managers

Startups UTC 2021

UTC 2021 Speakers Share More Thought Leadership

Urban Tech Connect 2021 recently brought us powerful insights and inspiring stories from across the innovation ecosystem. Momentum from the virtual three-day conference hasn’t let up one bit since.

Currently the Plug In South LA team is developing on-demand video, digital swag, discounts, and other unique benefits for attendees. If you haven’t already, join our mailing list and be first to receive updates.

In the meantime, check out our recaps of the live sessions here: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

Plus, our incredible speakers just shared more valuable advice:

Ryan Nece, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Next Play Capital

The best advice you received when starting out?

The only play that matters is the Next Play.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

Seeing a need to provide our community the opportunity to have a seat at the table and to invest alongside the best venture funds and tech companies in the world.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

I spend time reminding myself of the previous 100-plus hurdles that I overcame and that the test I am going through today only strengthens my TESTimony of faith.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now?

I still am obsessed with my camera app…being able to share all those moments in time with the next generation is powerful to me. The most valuable possession I own is a picture of my great-great-grandma, great-grandma, grandma, mom, and me. I only have one and I wish I had more.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

I spend time reading blogs, books, and most importantly talking to a diverse group of leaders in the game that I respect consistently.

Rami Reyes, Co-Founder and Managing Director, NextEquity Partners

The best advice you received when starting out?

Figure out what you can do better than anyone else and become a leading expert in those areas.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

I wanted to learn from really smart people and was fortunate out of college to work for tech and private equity legends like Avie Tevanian, Fred Anderson, Rajiv Dutta, Roger McNamee, and Bret Pearlman.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

I first took time to think and not make an impulsive decision. Then, I thoroughly analyzed all my options and asked for counsel when appropriate.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now and why?

I am biased as one of their investors, but I am a fan of MasterClass as I am passionate about increasing access to education and love that they’ve figured out a way to make learning fun and cool.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

Google Alerts, reputable news sources, and LinkedIn are helpful. I also talk to a lot of entrepreneurs and early-stage investors about what they’re seeing in the market.

Nasir Qadree, Founding Managing Partner, Zeal Capital Partners

The best advice you received when starting out?

Be your authentic self, ensure your story connects w/ your values and investment mandate, and how you think about Zeal as a new franchise.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

I recognize multiple missing opportunities, how we have historically sourced, invested, and helped scale early-stage businesses.

Most importantly, recognizing the opportunity it means for economic growth and mobility for the founders we invest in, the communities in which they come from, and for me and my family.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

Hurdles are indicators that you are learning, I love to learn. I typically reverse engineer what took place and depending on what exactly happened, I bounce this hurdle off my mentors and parents, and grandparents.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now?

Discogs, Pitchbook, Shazam, and Affinity.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

I meet with members of the Advisory Board weekly and listen to podcasts during my morning run.

David Hall, Managing Partner, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund

The best advice you received when starting out?

In venture — and in business in general — always closely follow the money. It’ll help focus on the true customer journey and where there are gaps or weaknesses in the strategy and execution.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

I love meeting with entrepreneurs and ideating with them on the future of the industry. Nothing is more exciting than to hear how the world will change because of an entrepreneur’s vision.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

I think professional hurdles are little reminders to focus on the personal side of life. When things are rocky and uncertain at work, I always dive deeper into family and friends to make sure my life is fully in balance. In doing that, the solution to my work struggle is typically revealed.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now and why?

I have a love/hate relationship with Clubhouse. I think its serendipity is amazing — who’s in the room and what they’ll say, but I don’t have the free time to commit to it as much now and worry about its post-pandemic value prop.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

Lots of reading and first-person conversations. I love asking people what’s the top thing they are excited about now and tracking their answers.

Photo: UTC 2021 co-host Lauryn Nwankpa, head of social impact at Dave. Credit: Plug In South LA

Startups The PISLA Beat

Movement to Rebuild Black Wall Street in Tulsa Gains Momentum

The centennial of the Tulsa race massacre that destroyed “Black Wall Street” is spurring efforts to forge a new entrepreneurship ecosystem in the city.

At the forefront is Build In Tulsa managing director Randolph F. Wiggins, who’s also a venture partner at Atento Capital. “The call from history, the attraction of a powerful and resilient community, and the hope of a brighter and more prosperous future for Black America pulled me to plant roots here,” he wrote in a Blavity op-ed.

In today’s Plug In South LA Beat, our regular curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, let’s find out how Wiggins and his team are catalyzing generational Black wealth creation:

I’m Planting Roots in Tulsa for the Hope of a Brighter and More Prosperous Future for Black America

Photo Credit: Drew Harbour on Unsplash