Fund for South LA Founders

The best ideas have never been bound by zip codes. But access to the capital needed to scale them is not equal – especially for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.

That’s why we launched the Fund for South LA Founders – with help from our members, we’re raising $500,000 in non-equity funding for Black and Latinx-led businesses.

Why We’re All In for LA

This is about more than funding – it’s about relationships and growth. With support from the PledgeLA community, we’re raising a $500,000 non-equity fund to help founders in the heart of our city take their businesses to the next level.

After receiving more than 200 applications from South LA founders, we’ll be selecting 20 innovative companies to be part of the new PledgeLA + Grid110 Winter Cohort, where each will receive:

  • Three months of tailored training & support
  • Mentorship from other LA founders and investors
  • $25,000 in non-dilutive funding

Finalist Judges

Our incredible panel of judges brings diverse experience from tech, philanthropy, venture capital, and social impact. They’ll help us select innovative companies poised to thrive:

Support the Fund

Join us as a sponsor of the Fund – every dollar donated goes directly into the hands of our founders.
 

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Our Partners

Fund Updates

Applications for the Fund closed on October 9 at 5PM PST.

Selection:
Finalists will be invited to virtual interviews during the week of October 26 – 30.

Decisions:
Early November 2020

Training & Funding:
The PledgeLA-Grid110 cohort training will run from January 4 to March 26, 2021. Funding will be disbursed in two installments during this time.

Basic Eligibility

Identity: One or more co-founders should identify as a member of the Black and/or Latinx communities.

South LA Connection: We’re looking for businesses with a clear connection to South Los Angeles and neighboring communities.

Businesses: This program is for for-profit businesses and social enterprises. We cannot accept applications from 501(c)(3) nonprofits.

Funding Stage: Businesses should have received less than $250,000 in total funding from any source (investments, loans, grants, etc.).

FAQ

Founders and businesses should have a clear connection to South LA (AKA South Central) and adjoining neighborhoods and cities, such as Inglewood, Compton, South Gate, etc.

The economic impacts of COVID-19 have had a disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx communities, already facing generations of systemic under-investment. In LA, only 6% of venture capital investments go to Latinx founders, and only 7% go to Black founders. In our nation’s largest county with such a wealth of diverse talent, we know we can do better.

The PledgeLA + Grid110 Winter Cohort training will run from January 4 to March 26, 2021. Weekly meetings will take place on either Wednesday mornings or Thursday evenings, depending on the specific needs of the final cohort. COVID-19 Planning: At this time, we are planning to host training sessions virtually. We’ll update this as the city recommendations for COVID-19 continue to evolve.
Each week of training consists of 2 hours of facilitated sessions (required), plus additional time for office hours (highly recommended). This makes for a weekly commitment of about 2-4 hours. Like anything, you get what you put in. This program is designed to allow you to focus on running the day to day operations of your business, while layering in support where needed to help you meet key milestones.
With the exception of non-profit organizations, we welcome applications from any field, sector, or industry. Knowledge and skills taught and reviewed during the program are applicable and transferable to ideas from all sectors & industries. While most businesses are tech enabled, you do not necessarily need to be a “tech company” to be considered. We’re open to companies across a wide range of products/services: SaaS, mobile apps, e-commerce, CPG, food, social enterprises, fashion, B2B software, health/wellness, AI, sports, beauty.
We do look for companies that have at least an MVP (an early product that customers can use) with evidence of traction (users, revenue, or funding). As stated previously, companies should not have raised more than $250,000 from any source. The majority of companies selected for the program will be live with their product or service, but we will make exceptions for promising products/founders. The founder/co-founders should be prepared to work full time on their venture.

Mentors and advisors come from PledgeLA’s network of tech companies and venture capital firms. We’ll be matching each company selected with mentors relevant to their specific needs.

Because this program is focused on founders, only the founder and one additional co-founder are invited to participate in the weekly cohort programming. If your team has more than two members, please contact [email protected] for more information.

Below are some of the essay questions we’d like to highlight in our application to help you prepare (3-4 sentences max / 500 characters):

Essay Questions (Required)

  1. What problem is your company solving, and why is it important?
  2. How will you use the $25k funding to help take your business to the next level?
  3. How is your company connected to the South LA community?
  4. Beyond the $25k, what would you like to get out of this program and community?


Video Component (Optional, but Recommended)

Introduce yourself and your company. What would you want the companies in your cohort to know about you? (2 minutes)

Contact us with any other questions at [email protected].