Philly Tech Investor to Double Down on Black, Latinx and Women Entrepreneurs in 2018

Come January, the city will get a new accelerator program focused exclusively on these groups.

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Philly’s tech community has ways to go before it’s truly inclusive of all kinds of Philadelphians. Efforts like the Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship and the newly minted CS4Philly campaign are moving the city forward on inclusivity and Ben Franklin Technology Partners wants to add a new program to the mix.

The early stage capital provider recently announced that it is (once again) partnering with DC-based Village Capital to bring the Village Capital Pathways program to the Philadelphia region. The partnership also includes global financial services firm UBS and will focus its support on African American, Latinx, and/or women founders to help prepare their ventures for potential strategic partners and investors.

“We want to help position companies to obtain the capital they need most, while prioritizing those who represent Philadelphia’s diversity,” said Margaret Berger Bradley, director of Investment Partnerships at Ben Franklin, in a statement. “This program offers us one other way to finance impact-driven companies across the region and help develop their social networks, even before they may be ready for investment.”

The program will launch in early 2018 and run for three months. The early-stage companies will be trained on Village Capital’s Venture Investment Readiness Awareness Level (VIRAL) curriculum, which educates companies on how to meet specific milestones that will position them to be competitive when raising capital.

The program will also facilitate connections to local entrepreneur support organizations and angel investors. “Startups often rely on friends and family money as their first source of capital to build their high-growth companies. But not all founders have access to networks with capital,” wrote Village Capital on its website. Because of the disparity, the program will actively foster formal and informal interactions with angel investors and mentors in the region.

Plus, they’ll offer participants tangible business support, including:

  • Amazon Web Services: 2 years of AWS credits (up to $5000)
  • Kiva Zip: Up to $10,000 interest-free Kiva Zip Loan
  • Hubspot for Startups: 90 percent scholarship on all paid HubSpot software for 12 months
  • Up to $2,000 in grant funding rewarded for hitting VIRAL program milestones
  • Connections and expert advice from UBS executives and network

Ben Franklin Technology Partners teamed up with Village Capital Partners to launch Philly’s first fintech accelerator class this year, which took in eight companies and invested a combined $50,000 in two.

“Our goal has always been to find, train, and invest in entrepreneurs solving real-world problems. We build communities around entrepreneurs to improve opportunities for growth and success,” said Ebony Pope, director of US ventures at Village Capital, “Working with Ben Franklin earlier this year on the Fintech Accelerator program, run as part of VilCap Communities, provided insight into the incredible startup ecosystem in Philadelphia and how we can further support our mission in the region.”

Eligible companies must be tech-enabled with an established minimum viable product and be pre-seed or seed stage ventures with less than $500,000 in revenue to date or in raised funding. The deadline to apply for Philly program is December 22, 2017. Selected ventures will be notified on January 10, 2018.