New Minnesota Accelerator Launches for Black, Brown, and Women Founders
A new accelerator program dedicated to Black, brown, and women founders is set to launch this fall. The program is an outgrowth of the MSP Equity Fund, a funding venture aimed at helping diverse entrepreneurs.
Startup group gener8tor will run the inaugural MSP Equity Fund Accelerator, which is sponsored by Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America. Limited to five founders, the accelerator is a 12-week program where participants will receive mentorship from mentors and coaches from Allianz Life and gener8tor. They’ll also receive a $100,000 investment from gener8tor through a “Simple Agreement for Future Equity” financing contract, or SAFE.
The MSP Equity Accelerator is an attempt to have a more direct approach to investing in diverse startups, said Al Cornish, managing director of MSP Equity Fund. Organizers said the accelerator is meant to “complement” the MSP Equity Fund and its two other initiatives: the MSP Equity Fund of Funds — where it gives funds to venture capital fund managers who in turn fund entrepreneurs — and the MSP Equity Direct Fund.
The three components are separate legal entities that work in conjunction to bolster investment in Black-, brown-, and women-led startups in Minnesota, said Cornish.
“Our goal is for accelerator companies to serve as an additional source of deal flow for the fund of funds’ portfolio funds, the MSP Equity Direct Fund, and other local and national funds,” Cornish said in an email.
He added: “While we are investing directly into funds through the fund of funds and directly into Black, brown, and women-led startups through the direct fund, we are also taking a hands-on approach to develop and directly assist these startups headquartered in Minnesota via the accelerator.”
The startup founder selection will be “industry-agnostic,” according to a release, but accelerator leaders expect a number of applications from Minnesota’s “sectors of strength,” which include medical devices, food science, biomedical engineering, and technology and science research and development.
Startup founders will also be selected based on their leadership teams, diversity of leadership and staff, potential for growth, and potential for economic and industry impact in Minnesota, Cornish said.
Following the inaugural cohort, MSP Equity Accelerator plans to have two more cohorts through the next year.
A little over a year ago, Greater MSP and gener8tor debuted the MSP Equity Fund with financial backing from some of Minnesota’s biggest corporations. Wisconsin-based gener8tor has led six accelerator programs in Minnesota, whose graduates have gone on to raise a total of $298.4 million.
“We know that diverse-led firms are significantly underfunded, but their potential is unlimited,” said Jasmine Jirele, president and CEO of Allianz Life in a release. “This accelerator will further enhance the collaborative nature of the MSP Equity Fund, and will be an important part of continuing to drive innovation and inclusion in our business community.”
Startup founders interested in being a part of MSP Equity Accelerator’s inaugural cohort have until July 2nd to apply.