The controversial, highly anticipated CNN series, Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley, hosted by Soledad O’Brien, profiled a group of African American tech entrepreneurs participating in the NewMedia Accelerator (aka NewMe), a nine-week incubator style accelerator program in Mountain View, California. NewMe helped black-owned tech startups to fine-tune their ideas, hone their presentation skills, receive mentorship from a bevy of digital rock stars, and pitch their businesses to potential investors.
NewMe co-founder Angela Benton, CEO of Black Media Web, L.L.C., along with NewMe participants Hank Williams and Anthony Frasier will head up the session,“Sourcing Capital for Your Tech Company,” at the 2012 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo (BEEC2012) in Chicago (May 23-26).
Benton’s company publishes BlackWeb2.0, one of the go-to sites for African Americans in new media and the technology sector. Feeling disconnected from the strong startup environment in Silicon Valley is what birthed NewMe, which brought eight African American entrepreneurs together to live under one roof in Silicon Valley last summer. Benton also has developed an app called Cued, which creates recommendations for activities based on “where you are, what you like and your past experiences.”
Williams, an engineer turned entrepreneur, is the CEO and Founder of Kloud.co, which is an early stage tech company developing a new data management platform. He has raised $40 million in capital and has extensive knowledge about startups, having founded several tech-based companies including ClickRadio, Cybersonic and Pastel Development Corp. where he developed DayMaker, a best-selling and award winning personal information program.
Frasier is the 26-year-old co-founder of Playd, a social networking app that he likes to describe as “foursquare for gamers.” He also is the founder of The Koalition, an award-winning gaming site for urban youth and the meetup group BrickCity Tech. Frasier received start-up funding from private investors after participating in NewMe.
During their NewMe experience, the trio represented the new face of Silicon Valley, where the startup tech scene is mostly young, white, and male. Women and Asians have made some inroads, but African-American and Latino tech leaders appear to remain a rare breed struggling to secure capital to finance their start-ups. As of 2010, black tech entrepreneurs had received just 1% of technology based equity investments.
The good news is that venture capital investment dollars grew in 2011, up 22% over the previous year. Venture capitalists invested $28.4 billion in 3,673 deals, 4% rise in deals from 2010, according to the National Venture Capital Association. Overall investment dollars increased across every stage of development, but there was a 48% decrease in seed money, early stage investments. The Internet sector saw a bit of a jump in average funding.
While venture capitalists continue to show their interest in tech areas, they are proceeding with caution. So, the question remains how black tech entrepreneurs can get a bigger piece of the funding pie. Benton, Williams, and Frasier will address five critical capital raising issues:
How to raise money from venture capitalists, angel investors, and other funders
How to find the right source for each capital stage—research funds, seed money, and expansion financing
How to deliver what investors are looking for during an elevator pitch
How to identify and build a network of mentors, supporters and highly connected power players
How to get into incubators or accelerator programs to help take one’s startup to the next level
Benton, Frasier and Williams are among the accomplished entrepreneurs who will share their success secrets at the 2012 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by Nationwide, May 23-26, at the Hilton Chicago Hotel in Chicago, IL. Search and follow the hashtag #BEEC2012 on Twitter for the latest updates on conference speakers and sessions. Expect innovative sessions, high-powered speakers, and an early peek at the products, trends, and services you’ll need to stay ahead of the curve. To register and find out more, visit www.blackenterprise.com/ec/