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Blog

Kapor Capital, Black-led VC firm focused On ‘Impact,’ raises $126 Million

Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein founded a venture capital firm in 2011 with a counter-intuitive mission: to generate elite investment returns by investing in impact-focused startups that help level the playing field in financial services, healthcare, and other industries.

Now, more than a decade later, the firm they founded, Kapor Capital, is taking its biggest step yet—becoming one of the largest Black-led firms in a VC landscape that has seen funding to Black entrepreneurs decline this year.

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Racial justice group unveils ‘Black Tech Agenda’ as roadmap for Congress

Rashad Robinson, founder of the racial justice organization Color of Change, believes that for far too long, Silicon Valley behemoths have prioritized profits over the well-being of Black consumers. The group is now laying out its most detailed vision for how lawmakers can intervene.

Some of the group’s ideas, such as limiting discriminatory use of personal data and requiring companies to test their algorithms for biases, have already been enshrined in legislation. However, few, if any, have become law. Others appear to be breaking new ground by urging Washington to take a more aggressive regulatory response.

The agenda calls for the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to incorporate a civil rights lens into merger reviews, allowing them to “challenge and reverse mergers that fail racial equity impact assessments.”

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Uncategorized

Local Black-Led Tech Startups Get Funding Boost from Google

  Two Black-led startups in the community recently received encouraging news.

The founders of Eventnoire, an event management platform, and Buoy Pricing, a revenue management tool for the vacation rental industry, each received $100,000 from the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund. The funds are given to promising Black tech ventures that have historically had difficulty accessing capital.

According to Crunchbase, U.S. companies raised nearly $150 billion in venture capital in 2020, but Black startup founders received less than 1% of that total.

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Blog

Black entrepreneurs face tough adventure landing venture capital

Finding more venture capital for minority and women-owned start-up firms could help the region’s business community in a variety of ways, according to Doug Villhard, director of Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin Business School’s entrepreneurship program.

According to Bloomberg, Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx founders will receive less than 2% of total venture capital in 2021. Female entrepreneurs received only 2% of venture capital funding.

“This funding gap shortchanges not only underrepresented founders but also the vitality of the entire innovation community,” Villhard said.

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Blog Uncategorized

We need more talented Black VCs.

In the venture capital community, things are changing. Two Black celebrities have become venture capitalists, partly to make the industry more inclusive. Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, The Roots’ lead rapper, joined VC firm Impellent Ventures earlier this year and spoke with Forbes about his approach there. And, from the archives, here’s a 2019 cover story about tennis superstar Serena Williams and her venture capital firm Serena Ventures, which she’s expected to focus on more after she retires from the sport. “I want to be remembered for things I’ve done off the court,” she told Forbes, “lives I’ve had an impact on and voices that have been heard through mine.”

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Blog

A Black-led tech startup looks to combat racial bias in criminal justice

A Black woman-led startup hopes to change the criminal justice system with its software. However, while it is currently based in Minneapolis, it does not intend to stay for long.

SIID Technologies intends to use machine learning technology to promote racial equity, fairness, and accountability in the judicial and law enforcement sectors. The startup’s ideas, which are now in the prototyping stage, have continued to pique the interest of accelerator programs both within and outside of the state.

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Founders Unplugged

Founders Unplugged: Leveling up with Leonard Tatum!

Join us for our Founders Unplugged Series as we talk with Tatum Games CEO, Leonard Tatum

Leonard Tatum is the CEO and Founder of Tatum Games, a startup focused on analytics and advertising for mobile games. We caught up with Leonard to discuss his personal challenges, what keeps him motivated, and to hear his startup journey.

Plug In: How did you come up with the idea for your startup? Who or what influenced you?

Tatum: There is a much longer and interesting answer to this question. The short answer, however, is that developers need better tools to give their apps and games a better chance at succeeding. Only by understanding user behaviors, interests and needs can you accomplish that. There are many tools that assist with this, but I felt I could push the envelope even further, thus developing MIKROS.

Plug In:  What do you admire most about your startup and your journey so far?

Tatum: I admire both the good times and bad times. We are resilient. This company started out creating content. We created mobile games. But were able to pivot and focus on developer tools, which is just as rewarding.

Plug In: What have the last few months been like for you and your company? Big wins and/or key lessons learned?

Tatum: We officially launched MIKROS and our game/developer community. If you have a mobile game, integrate MIKROS and witness how much the service works on your behalf to help you understand and better connect with your users, offer tips for improvements in your product, help balance your game economy, protect you from trolls and hackers, increase your revenue and earnings, and so much more. All in a matter of minutes. Integration is fast and easy.

Plug In: Tell us about one challenge you’ve overcome personally or professionally and what did you learn from the experience?

Tatum: I have been part of and have worked in the tech scene for over two decades. There have been many challenges I overcame. And there are many more still to come. One lesson I have internalized that I can share with you is that sometimes if you want things to be fair and more appealing then you must take matters into your own hands. No one else is obligated to be fair and do what is right by you. You hope for these things, but people have the tendency to fall short. When I started this business several years back, I made the decision to be fair to myself, and do right by others. That is, in a major way, what we do and embody at Tatum Games. We operate differently than other tech companies.

Plug In: How has Plug In’s Accelerator program helped you build your company?

Tatum: What I appreciate most about Plug In’s Accelerator are the people involved. From the organizers to the mentors, the volunteers and fellow cohort colleagues, everyone is inviting and genuinely wants to see you win. That’s a great confidence booster.

Plug In: With the changing market conditions, how do you stay rooted to your business?

Tatum: This business was started with the intent of changing the analytics and overall game service market. So, we are the pioneers in this space. All other competing services are over a decade old. We are the new players to the table showcasing innovation and what is relevant for developers today. But at the same time, we are always staying on trend, adjusting, and adapting.

Plug In: How do you define success?

Tatum: We create game services to help developers. We are genuine in our desire to see you win. That is how we define our success.

Plug In: What does the future of your company look like?

Tatum: We want to see every game using MIKROS. The more developers that choose MIKROS, the more powerful the service becomes since it is the only analytics service with a shared community component. We want to grow stronger together with the developers that we help.

Plug In: How can readers help you with anything in your startup right now? (Immediate needs, open positions, etc.)Tatum: We are currently raising our Seed Round. Warm introductions to investors is our main ask. Other than this, spread the word about MIKROS. If you know anyone in gaming, tell them to try MIKROS out and see for themselves why we are quickly becoming the world’s leading in-app analytics service.

Through all of Tatum’s efforts, from his two decades worth of experience in tech to his robust knowledge of data and analytics there is no-one more equipped to face the challenges that other developers face than Tatum Games. We will be rooting for Tatum through his seed round and we can certainly say that we look forward to any and all endeavors that may come from Tatum Games in the future.

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Uncategorized

Urban Tech Connect Conference: Metamorphosis 2022

Back in-person, PISLA hosts conference for Black & Brown founders and tech-talent October 20th, 2022 — 9am to 4pm

Los Angeles, CA – September 12, 2022 – Plug In South LA will be hosting its 5th annual tech conference, Urban Tech Connect (UTC) at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles on October 20th.

UTC is a game-changing conference platform that nurtures diverse ideation, innovation, and entrepreneurial grit in and beyond South LA. This conference provides attendees, primarily founders and professionals from underrepresented communities, the opportunity to plug in to the greater tech ecosystem and network with fellow founders, investors, industry leaders, and tech influencers. 

After two years of virtual gathering, UTC returns in-person with this year’s theme:Metamorphosis’, where conference leaders will focus on the continuous evolution of the technology industry and urge individuals and businesses from the Black and Brown community to consider the question: “what is my capacity for big, meaningful change?” Attendees will learn to constantly disrupt and adapt their own offerings to ensure success amidst an industry that never ceases to evolve rapidly. A stacked attendee list of VCs, industry leaders, and sponsors will be present and eager to discover new talent, offer support, and provide insight on the state of the tech industry and where it’s headed. 

Leaders will speak on a variety of current trends from Web 3.0 to sustainability and health technology. Among confirmed speakers will be Jesse Draper, Founding Partner of Halogen Ventures, Natalie King, CEO of Dunamis Energy, and Crystal Adesanya, Founder of Kiira Health. Big sponsors join the roster as PocketCFO, Verizon, and SNAP support the mission!

UTC Metamorphosis features collaborative sessions across three (3) tracks focused on founders, investors, and tech professionals.  

“We are extremely excited to be back in-person after the pandemic changed the world as well as the tech industry. This year, our community comes together to navigate forward, empower our diverse pool of talented founders and entrepreneurs, and hear new and vital insights from a variety of industry leaders and executives.” — Derek Smith, Founder of Plug In South LA.

UTC: Metamorphosis — Student Bridge Program

Thursday October 19th, 10am-2pm

While active founders, entrepreneurs, and tech professionals are the key focus for the UTC conference on October 20th, students are also a critical component of Plug In’s overall mission. On October 19th, the day before the conference, Plug In is hosting the UTC Student Bridge Program in partnership with Pledge LA and SNAP Inc. This half-day program of interactive workshops and networking is specifically designed for students who are interested in entrepreneurship and/or eager to enter the tech workforce. 200 Black and Brown high school and undergraduate college students will gain insights and resources on how best to make an impact and find their place in the industry. Students, administrators, and school officials can register here.

About Plug In South LA

Plug In South LA brings together entrepreneurs, founders, VCs, innovators, and emerging talent for networking and conversations focused on creating a community and hub for innovation in South LA. From conferences and tech demos to workshops and intimate salons, Plug In offers members innovative and disruptive programming aimed at nurturing entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity in the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders in tech. Beyond UTC, Plug In runs an equity-free Tech Accelerator that equips a small cohort of founders with the tools they need to build and scale their businesses through mentorship immersive programs such as Power Huddle sessions, which provide underrepresented founders at any stage the opportunity to present their business ideas, challenges, and opportunities to a network of mentors, advisors, industry experts, investors, and more. 

To learn more, please contact Plug In South LA at info@pluginsouthla.com or visit utc.pluginsouthla.com.

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Blog

Calendly Enters Forbes’ Cloud 100 List

Black-owned scheduling platform Calendly has been named one of the world’s top private cloud companies on Forbes’ Cloud 100 list. As a member of the Plug In community we would like to say congratulations to the enter Calendly team!

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Blog

 Amazon amplifies Black-Owned businesses and entrepreneurs

To commemorate the first anniversary of Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator, the company announces a new initiative to help champion sustainable growth for Black-owned businesses on the Amazon platform in a blog post.

The first step in the new initiative is the creation of a Black-owned Business badge, which allows customers to find and shop for black-owned businesses. The badge, which is currently in testing for select eligible products, can be found in the search results and Additional Details section.

“As part of Amazon’s commitment to supporting and empowering the Black community, we are testing a new badge to make it even easier for customers to identify and shop products that come from Black-owned businesses,” said Dharmesh Mehta, vice president of Amazon Worldwide Selling Partner Services, in a statement. “We are eager to learn how the badge best helps customers discover Black-owned businesses and how it can help Black entrepreneurs succeed and grow in Amazon’s store.”

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