Village Capital Pathways, an initiative of venture firm Village Capital and global financial institution UBS, has launched its inaugural Atlanta program to help underrepresented founders of high-growth companies. The Atlanta program is being implemented locally by partner Goodie Nation, a social impact tech startup incubator, who helped identify the 10 startups in the 2018 cohort.
The VC Pathways startups are all high-growth, pre-seed or seed-stage businesses. They are also all founded by Black, Latinx and female entrepreneurs. These populations see a disproportionally lower amount of traditional venture funding than their counterparts — a well-documented phenomenon that has been identified as a missed opportunity on the part of investors.
For example, black women are the most educated population in the U.S. and the fastest-growing entrepreneurial group in the country — between 1997 and 2014, growth of black women-owned business outpaced that of all women-owned firms.
”There is no shortage of potential among underrepresented founders,” said Village Capital Managing Director Allie Burns in a statement. “They have firsthand experience in solving critical issues faced by the majority of the U.S. population. What’s lacking is the social capital and tangible resources to scale these solutions.”
The cohort will be taught and evaluated using a framework developed by Village Capital called the Venture Investment Readiness Awareness Level (VIRAL) curriculum. It contains specific and measurable milestones that help founders learn how to be competitive when approaching investors and raising capital.
The startups will receive business services support, as well as gain access to mentors for Village Capital, UBS, and local entrepreneurs over the next three months to become investment ready.
“When you can understand how investors evaluate startups, you begin to understand your own weaknesses and how they might perceive you,” says Goodie Nation’s founder Joey Womack, who spearheaded the Atlanta program. “Then you can work on improving those weaknesses, making you more investment-ready across the board.”
The VC Pathways program is also running in Philadelphia and Chicago with different local partners. Womack says that Atlanta is unique due to its “treasure trove of diverse founders.”
Following the three-month program, the startups will present at an investor showcase and Demo Day on May 8. They will continue to receive support and education throughout the year.
Womack also says he plans to take the curriculum and framework from VC Pathways to apply it to his own work at Goodie Nation. The organization runs social impact pre-accelerators that focus on different socioeconomic challenges to find tech solutions to address them.
Last year’s theme was “Hack the Violence”, a year-long endeavor to incubate 15 tech startups with the goal to reduce violence 40 percent by the year 2020. Some of the solutions included platforms and tools that addressed problems like sexual violence, mental health, and the school-to-prison pipeline.
This year’s theme is Hack Health, which will aim to foster 1 million healthier lives by 2021. Womack says that the Goodie Nation process can be greatly informed by what he is helping institute in the VC Pathways program.
“I’m excited because, number one, this will help us understand how investors evaluate startups, and we can take those learnings and implement them into our own curriculum,” says Womack. “This will help us in our ultimate goal to create more sustainable, high-growth social impact tech startups.”
Meet the VC Pathways Atlanta startups below:
DisputeDoc: The first automated solution to improve credit scores and resolve credit disputes
Exception-ALLY: Simplifies decisions for parents of children with special needs. Their first product is like TurboTax for special education.
Zyrobotics: Makes a real-time AI learning system for early childhood STEM education.
Aquagenuity: Protects public health by digitizing water quality data using predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and data science.
Speakalytics: Uses speech analytics to drive customer experiences for contact centers
Goodr: Sustainable waste management company that leverages technology to combat hunger and reduce food waste.
Built Out of Paper: Makes corrugated cardboard furniture that’s lightweight, easy and sustainable.
SynsorMed: Provides mobile software that helps hospitals prevent costly patient readmissions.
RaceIQ: Diagnostics, and security embedded applications supporting the automotive market.
Qoins: Helps people pay off credit card debt through everyday purchases.