Entrepreneurs to Be Matched with CEOs from LA Tech Companies
LOS ANGELES – PledgeLA, a coalition of hundreds of venture capital (VC) and tech leaders in Los Angeles working to increase equity, community engagement, and accountability around corporate diversity efforts, has selected 20 Black and Latinx-led businesses to receive funding and mentorship through its new Fund for South LA Founders.
Formed in response to the elevated national dialogue around racial inequity and the economic devastation communities of color are facing here in Los Angeles, the Fund is awarding capital directly to rising, innovative entrepreneurs of color. Unlike many funds given to business entrepreneurs, PledgeLA’s Fund for South LA Founders does not take any equity in exchange.
PledgeLA is also helping these founders build strategic relationships by connecting them to top-notch mentors who have scaled businesses themselves. The CEOs of companies like Everytable, FabFitFun, Tala, and The Bouqs will each mentor one of the 20 founding teams. To ensure these entrepreneurs have the skills and capacity they need to thrive, the AnnenbergTech initiative is also funding a tailored 12-week training program with Grid110, a nonprofit accelerator with demonstrated experience serving women entrepreneurs and people of color.
More than 200 applications from businesses and entrepreneurs in South LA were submitted. An experienced panel of judges from LA’s tech, venture capital, and social impact sectors interviewed a smaller group of finalists, selecting the following 20 businesses for the grant and final cohort:
- Coffee Del Mundo: Founded by Jonathan Kinnard, Coffee Del Mundo is a Black & Afro-Latino owned vertically integrated specialty coffee company based in South Los Angeles.
- ComplYant: Founded by Shiloh Johnson, ComplYant is software that helps entrepreneurs manage all of their tax requirements from one dashboard.
- Esqapes Immersive: Founded by Micah Jackson, Esqapes allows people to reap the relaxing benefits of a mini-vacation, by utilizing Virtual Reality, automation, and traditional wellness practices.
- Everlaunch: Founded by Michelle Heng and Alma Cook, Everlaunch is an interactive web app helping first-time entrepreneurs overcome fundamental challenges when starting their business.
- Fun-Diggity Funnel-Cakes: Founded by Cheyenne Brown and Bernard Nicholson Jr., Fun-Diggity specializes in gourmet funnel-cakes made affordable and accessible all year round.
- Guardian Lane: Founded by Kristina Jones, Guardian Lane is the world’s first video sharing platform for children’s grief counseling with tele-counseling services available for additional support.
- GTLA Apparel Development Inc.: Founded by Guadalupe Tlatenchi, GTLA Apparel Development Inc is an all-phase apparel manufacturer, capable of taking fashion designs from concept to completion.
- Guided Compass: Founded by Creighton Taylor, Guided Compass is a comprehensive project and work-based technology platform for education providers and workforce development organizations, helping them onboard career-seekers to fulfilling careers.
- JUMPWatts Inc.: Founded by Bryan Ovalle and Arun Gunasekaran, JUMPWatts has developed easily-installed remote repositioning & parking compliance technology kits for shared micro-mobility vehicles – remedying the chaos on city streets due to micro-mobility and enabling new city markets.
- La Create Space: Founded by Terell Johnson and Marisa Johnson, La Create Space is a creative co-working, production, and meeting space located in the heart of Inglewood, CA.
- On The Go LA: Founded by Gabriel Gamez and Enrique Loyola, On The Go LA is a full-service food truck rental company that offers daily rentals, access to high-traffic stops, and operational support through an easy-to-use online platform.
- Ownors Technologies Inc: Founded by James Jones Jr., Ownors Technologies Inc is an AI-powered analytics marketplace matching top entertainment industry executives with creatives for 1:1 live sessions and managed micro-advances.
- Reparations Club LLC: Founded by Jazzi McGilbert, Reparations Club LLC is a retail + community space curated by Blackness, POC, and a few good allies in LA – radicalizing retail through community and creativity.
- Ride FRSH: Founded by Trey Brown and Garrick Mitchell, Ride FRSH is a subscription and retail-based trendy air freshener brand that weaves iconic song lyrics about driving into their designs.
- SKNMUSE: Founded by Ezinne Adeoye, SKNMUSE is a premium skincare brand that elevates the beauty experience for black women.
- Snojo: Founded by Nadiyah Ward, Snojo is an on-demand lesson management platform for skiers, snowboarders and mountain resorts.
- South Los Angeles Beverage Company: Founded by Craig Bowers and Samuel Chawinga, South Los Angeles Beverage Company is a craft beverage incubator, production, and packaging facility.
- SÜPRMARKT: Founded by Olympia Auset, SÜPRMARKT is a low-cost organic grocery, making it easy and affordable to eat well in South LA’s food deserts.
- Tea Botanics: Founded by Denise Pines and Dr. Pei Vuong, creates premium high-performance life-stage specific, medicinal tea-based beverages and supplements that address what the body and brain needs – focusing on men and women’s key concerns associated with aging.
- The Honey Block: Founded by Branché Foston, The Honey Block is an online wellness education platform & community for and by Black, indigenous people and other people of color.
Of the 24 participating entrepreneurs in the first cohort, 100% identify as either a person of color or a woman. Nearly 60% of businesses were founded by a woman, and all have a demonstrated connection to the South Los Angeles region. In January, the group of 20 businesses will kick off a 12-week accelerator, designed to help each of them address specific milestones as they receive mentorship and the non-equity capital.
LA tech companies and venture capital firms, individuals, and other corporate partners are collectively raising the capital for the Fund, which will be distributed to the business in the first quarter of 2021. Those interested can learn more about the program and how to support it here 100 percent of all tax-deductible donations go directly to the selected founders.
The Acevedo Foundation, Plug In South LA, the LA Latino Chamber of Commerce, SLATE-Z, and the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation are strategic partners on the project.
PledgeLA is a first-of-its-kind partnership to promote civic engagement, diversity, and inclusion across LA’s booming and dynamic tech sector created in partnership with Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Annenberg Foundation, and over 220 Los Angeles venture capital (VCs) and tech leaders. PledgeLA members make a commitment to track their community engagement and diversity data each year and make that data publicly available, as well as expand their engagement with local nonprofits that support diverse talent and reflect the civic spirit of Los Angeles.
About the Annenberg Foundation
The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation that provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally. Since 1989, it has generously funded programs in education and youth development; arts, culture and humanities; civic and community life; health and human services; and animal services and the environment. To learn more about the Annenberg Foundation and their various initiatives, click here.
PledgeLA Venture Capital Signatories:
Act One Ventures, Activist Artist Management, Alpha Edison, Amplify, Backstage Capital, BAM Ventures, Baron Davis Enterprises, BCG Digital Ventures, Beach View Capital, Blue Skies Unlimited, Bonfire, Bracket Capital, Bryant Stibel, Clocktower Technology Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Cooley LLP, Core Innovation Capital, Countrywood Holdings, Crosscut Ventures, Diverse Communities Impact Fund, Embark Ventures, Early Growth Financial Services, Employment Technology Fund, Evolution, Fifth Wall Ventures, Fika Ventures, First Republic Bank, Gearup 360 Group, Greycroft, Halogen Ventures, HMC INQ Intelatin, KohFounders, KW Capital Partners, LDR Ventures, List Ventures, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), LPC Ventures, Luma Launch, M13, MarsBio, M Ventures, MaC Venture capital, MiLA Capital, MOBD Ventures, Moonshots Capital, Mucker Capital, Muse Capital, Okapi Venture Capital, OPV, PLG Ventures, Plug and Play, PLUS Capital, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Quake Capital, Roadster Capital, SA&M Preccelerator, SamsungNext, Scopus Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, Sound Ventures, Stage Venture Partners, Starburst Accelerator, Stat Zero Group, StillMark, Sutton Capital Partners, Tale Venture Partners, Techstars, TenOneTen Ventures, The 22 Fund, The West Coast Consortium For Technology & Innovation in Pediatrics, Troy Capital Partners, Trousdale Capital Management, TYLT Ventures, Upfront Ventures, USC Marshall Venture Fund, VamosVentures, Watertower Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, Women’s Innovation Fund Accelerator, and Wonder Ventures.
PledgeLA Tech Company Signatories:
2Swim, 7TILL8 Wetsuits, 70 Million Jobs, 81cents, AlgoPay, Inc., amginE Ink, LLC, Aspiration, AudioCardio, Avisare, Basepaws, BESE, Beyond Meat, Bird, Blue Fever, Boingo Wireless, Breadware Inc., BUENA, CareNodes, CGI, COMUNITYmade, Cornerstone OnDemand, CPR Save, Creative Spoons, Croquet Corporation, DailyKarma, DASH Systems, Inc., Data 36, Developing Capacity Consulting, Dollar Shave Club, dot.LA, Elevate My Brand, EMWDESIGNS, Emblematic Group , Encantos, Enplug, Ettitude, Everytable, Expy Health, FabFitFun, Factual Inc., FairClaims, Fama, FamiLeague, Inc., FareShare, FEARLESS World Building for Womxn, Fernish, findSisterhood, Finli, FLATLAY Inc., Flavors from Afar, FlexTogether, Frosnaco, Giftata, Gladeo, Golden, Good Job, Grid110, Hawke Media, Heir Apparent, Helpr, Holisticism, Honey, HopSkipDrive, Hot Bit VR, Hub101, Idealab, Inclusology, influence.co, Jam City, Jimaye, Joymode , Jump Watts Inc., Kitchen Table App, Larta Institute, Launchmaps, Lawgood, Liquid, Lorals, Lumenus, Mahmee, MediaAlpha, MediPocket, Microsoft, Mikomoss Labs, MixR, Mondays Labs, Motiv, NEXT Trucking, Noun Project, Nuyorktricity, Officebook, Omaze, OurOffice Inc., Ozobot, PAIRE, Peak Metrics, Perch Mobility, Inc., Pick My Solar, Ping, Pledgeling, PocketCFO, Pocketwatch, Presidential Consulting & Marketing, Rapid7, Reel, Riders Share, Sabio Enterprises, Inc., ScaleLA, Soarin Energy, Inc., Snap Inc., Soylent, SteelHouse, Stellar Agency, StoryPlace, Symantec, Sweet Flower, sweetgreen, TALA, Tastemade, TechMahindra, Techonsite Corporation, TecnoLatinx, The Bouqs Company, The Handoff Company, Thrive Market, Toucan, Tradesy, Trappit, US, TuesdayNights, Two Bit Circus, UNOMi, Valence Enterprises, Inc., Vertical Networks, Virgin Hyperloop One, VNTANA, #WeAllGrow Latina Network, Wellsayer, WeTransfer, and Zypp.