All Aboard the ‘Advancing Black Entrepreneurs’ Bus!

For the first time ever, StartupBus 2019 will include a bus solely for black entrepreneurs to help them create technology companies. Now in its 10th year, the StartupBus competition has advanced hundreds of emerging startups.

StartupBus is an annual competition geared to empower the tech community, challenging top talent to hop on a bus and launch a startup in 72 hours. The road-trip event includes a tech entrepreneurship boot camp runs July 24–28.

Banking powerhouse JPMorgan Chase is making its inaugural participation. The firm’s ‘Advancing Black Pathways’ and ‘Chase for Business’ initiatives are teaming with StartupBus to lead 30 rising entrepreneurs in the national program geared for black technologists, designers, and innovators.

So why is entrepreneurship so significant? If people of color owned businesses at the same rates as white entrepreneurs, it would result in 9 million more jobs and $300 billion in worker income, the Center for Global Policy Solutions think tank reports.

Christopher Hollins, managing director, Chase Business Banking, said, “It’s important that we do our part to ensure diversity among those who are creating the world of tomorrow. Investing in more opportunities and resources for black entrepreneurs is a part of that effort. We’re excited about this collaboration with StartupBus because it brings the power of community and collaboration to life in a really fun way.”

Entrepreneurs were recruited through a highly selective process from New York City, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Atlanta, and Oakland. The entrepreneurs initially boarded the Advancing Black Entrepreneurs StartupBus on July 24 from JPMorgan’s Chase’s branch in Harlem, New York. The journey will include stops in Akron, Ohio; Detroit; Atlanta; and Montgomery, Alabama.

The bus will converge July 27–28 with teams from seven other buses across the USA to compete in New Orleans. Entrepreneurs will make startup pitches to a diverse mix of prominent investors and directors from Kapor Capital, Change Catalyst, Backstage Capital, and Pantegrion Capital.

This year’s “buspreneurs” are mainly black entrepreneurs focused on developing products aimed at improving the financial health of black Americans, a JPMorgan Chase spokesperson says.

The bus will include a stop at Techtown in Detroit on July 25. Participants will hear from empowering speakers and engage in a curriculum to train and inspire future black business leaders.

Mentors will consist of business leaders from Chase, business owners, technologists, and past competition participants.

StartupBus cross-pollinates unparalleled technological, creative, and visionary talent, allowing our participants to re-inject their expanded social capital, innovative mindsets, and newfound energy into the communities they call home, said Madelena Mak and Colleen Wong, national directors of StartupBus.

“The Advancing Black Entrepreneurs bus marks a significant milestone in our efforts to pave pathways to sustainable socioeconomic growth by partnering with economic development organizations, diverse startup ecosystems, and world-class, mission-driven companies such as JPMorgan Chase.”

Sekou Kaalund, the head of Advancing Black Pathways at JPMorgan Chase, said that through the collaboration, the bank is looking to teach rising black entrepreneurs about the startup process while enhancing their financial knowledge through advice from business bankers.

“This competition aligns with our long-term goal to drive inclusive growth by empowering more people in the black community to further their education, grow their careers, and build wealth,” Kaalund said.

Advancing Black Pathways and Chase for Business are focused on improving the financial health of black Americans through increased savings, improving credit, homebuyer counseling, and helping black-owned small businesses get access to the capital they need.

This year’s contest is now closed. Winners for StartupBus 2019 will be announced July 28 in New Orleans.