I’m excited to announce that I’m officially joining the global Techstars Network as Managing Director of the Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator powered by Techstars here in Atlanta, Georgia.
Techstars has had a presence in my hometown since 2016, partnering with Cox Enterprises to run Techstars Atlanta, its first Atlanta-based accelerator. The success of the Techstars Atlanta program, and its three classes thus far, has led Techstars and Cox to launch a second program in Atlanta focused specifically on social and environmental impact.
The Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator powered by Techstars will be looking to source companies that focused on STEM training, environmental sustainability—including sustainable food production, clean energy, and beyond—and community-enriching initiatives—like education in underserved communities, the wealth gap, homelessness, gentrification, and healthcare. These are all areas I’ve been passionate about since I started my own entrepreneurial journey.
Adding Color to the Tech Industry in Atlanta
I started my first company, Slushie Kicks, a custom sneaker company, while attending college at Georgia Tech, and I’ve been working with startups ever since. I found my path to success with Monsieur, a startup I founded in 2012 that developed a patented mixing technology to dispense mixed cocktails—but I also experienced the obstacles that many of us from historically underrepresented groups face when starting a business. After I exited Monsieur in 2017, I made it my mission to help African American-led startups in any way I could.
For the last 2 years, I have spent my time doing just that. I’ve met with Atlanta-area founders every morning at the Gathering Spot, a private membership club known for its diverse community, to give founders advice on raising capital, building a product, and refining pitch decks. It was during this time that I met a now good friend of mine, Jasmine Crowe, CEO of Goodr, an Atlanta-based sustainable management company, who at the time was considering the Techstars Anywhere Program. This was my first personal introduction to Techstars, and after diving deeper into the company, I realized that Techstars stands for more than just accelerating high-growth startups. Its #GiveFirst mantra, founder-friendly approach, and focus on community really defines what Techstars is all about. Goodr was accepted and completed the Techstars Anywhere Accelerator Class of 2018, and I went on to complete a brief stint mentoring companies at Techstars Atlanta where I saw the impact of #GiveFirst in action.
In 2019, I took my mission to the next leveI by teaming up with Jewel Burks Soloman and Justin Dawkins to launch Collab. Capital, a fund that invests in outstanding black founders by providing the capital and resources that enable them to responsibly grow and sustain profitable businesses. Helping and advising emerging diverse entrepreneurs at Collab has honed my mentorship skill set. I’m thrilled to continue my mission to help startups succeed as the Managing Director of the Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator powered by Techstars alongside local mentors at Techstars and Cox Enterprises.
Impacting Atlanta’s Startup Ecosystem
Atlanta’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is a scrappy one, and I’m used to working with startups that are forced to do a lot with a little. It’s these characteristics that showcase a founder’s commitment to their mission, and I’m looking for similar characteristics in the startups that will join us for the inaugural class of the Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator powered by Techstars. We are looking for founders driven by their passion to do good for both people and the planet, not because it’s easy or glamorous, but because the solutions they are producing have the potential to change the world for the better.
Atlanta has a unique makeup of corporate structure, cultural influence, creative genius, top universities, and technical talent that allow us to do things many other cities cannot do. This gives us the unique opportunity to build companies and products that matter, scale them quickly, and spread our impact across the globe through our influence. If done properly, I truly believe we can begin to heal our communities from right here in Atlanta.
The Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator powered by Techstars will officially kick off in early 2020 with our first ever class of startups. Applications are currently open for any startup focused on social and environmental impact solutions – whether you’re applying from Atlanta or anywhere in the world. If you have a solution that can change the world, we want to hear from you!
I’ve often found that minority founders are sometimes hesitant to apply for these types of opportunities, as they feel they may be overlooked because they don’t have the proper network or resources. But, Techstars is committed to giving every applicant an unbiased review, and I want to over-stress that ANY applicant, no matter your background, has a shot of being accepted.
Startups interested in the program are encouraged to learn more by visiting the Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator powered by Techstars page, or jump right into their application. Techstars and Cox wants to help your startup create a better future for generations to come. Don’t miss this opportunity to help your company create the change our planet, and people, need.