With a mission of closing the mentorship and funding gap that is all too evident for women and those who’re traditionally considered ethnic minorities in the Southeastern U.S., TiE Atlanta has launched a new entrepreneurship program called ACCESS, and interested business owners can apply now.
Paul Lopez, past president of TiE Atlanta and co-chair of TiE Atlanta Angels, says it’s easy to see why the time to launch ACCESS is now.
“The needs of the ecosystem are clear,” Lopez tells Hypepotamus. “Since 2007, there has been a 48 percent increase in women-owned businesses, and minority-owned businesses contribute $700 billion in sales annually. But historically, women-owned companies and minority-owned companies don’t get the same opportunities of access to investing as other companies.”
Lopez points to data from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council that says between 2007 and 2018, businesses owned by women of color surged by 163 percent. “So, you can see that there is a definite overlap,” he says. “We thought we would launch a program that is inclusive, opens access to mentoring and funding, and truly encompasses our mission of all entrepreneurs, all industries and all stages.”
ACCESS will function as a competition. The first place winner gets a $50,000 angel investment and the chance to present at the 2020 TieCON Atlanta convention. Second and third place businesses will also receive funding: $30,000 and $20,000 respectively. Each of the top three winners will also receive a year of TiE Atlanta membership for two co-founders, two tickets to the 2020 TiECON, and three months of mentorship from TiE Atlanta Charter Mentors, including legal consultation, financial advice, and other resources.
In order to qualify, businesses must be in one of three funding stages: Early Stage, Seed, or Seed+. Businesses must also be represented by at least one woman or minority founder, which they identify as Asian American, African American, Hispanic or Latinx. Other qualifications include having a business plan summary, and being able to provide proformas, financials, and investment goals at request.
Preferred candidates will also be located in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Businesses must submit applications by Friday, May 22, 2020 (the deadline was extended from its original May 15 date).
Lopez says TiE will measure the success of the program with certain quantifiable indicators: increase in revenue, investments, product development and go-to-market capabilities, and of course profitability.
“But with ACCESS, we want more than that. An indicator of success for this program is creating ACCESS — just as the name suggests — and providing a seat at the table for WMBEs [Women & Minority Business Enterprises] to meet investors, mentors, founders and industry leaders that can support them as they scale their product, service and idea,” Lopez says.
TiE, which currently operates in 61 cities around the world, will also benefit by increasing female and minority memberships at the Atlanta chapter, expanding the global network in ways that reflect true diversity, Lopez believes.
“What is important is that, as investors, founders and mentors who have ‘made it,’ TiE Atlanta wants to solve the problem at hand. By creating a model that addresses this problem, we have been able to cast a wide net, and open our angel investment fund, and local and global chapter, to upcoming entrepreneurs.”
For more information about TiE Atlanta’s ACCESS program, and to apply, visit the website.