Pharrell’s Black Ambition Demo Day Gifts Millions To Entrepreneurs
The top prize winner went home with a $1 million equity investment in their company.
Pharrell Williams is giving back to uplift entrepreneurs through Black Ambition. As part of its 2023 Demo Day, the founder presented $3.2 million to 36 game-changers in their industries.
The $1 million pitch competition, conducted on Nov. 9 at Spring Studios in New York City, sought to uplift Black business owners and lessen the racial wealth gap through “Igniting Innovation.”
Pharrell spoke to AfroTech about what the future held for Black Ambition concerning mentorship opportunities for the recipients.
“Capital seems like it’s the hardest thing to raise, but the truth of the matter is if you’re lucky and you get the capital, you’re more than likely to blow it if you don’t know what you’re doing,” he said. “So mentorship can actually help you with foreseeable issues and to help you raise capital as well. It’s like that’s really the ultimate goal… is to have the right strategic scaffolding to help you move forward.”
Out of the 2,000 applicants to receive the grants, recipients were given equity investments between $20,000 and $250,000 to take their businesses to new heights. Antoinette Banks won the $1 million grand prize. She founded the AI-based educational app Expert IEP, which is inclusive in its design for parents with children who have disabilities.
“Black Ambition is a feeling. It’s an overwhelming drive to show up consistently in excellence to create lasting, unapologetic impact,” said Banks. “For so long, Black and Brown kids with learning differences have been underestimated and forgotten. Earning this $1 million prize puts our kids back in the forefront. It gets people thinking deeply about solving the problems in special education.”
Additional finalists include the HBCU Grand Prize winner for Monocle, a social e-reader to promote communal engagement in literature, and Gently Soap for sustainable skincare. With 101 investments made so far, Pharrell’s endeavor continues to provide opportunities for Black and Brown start-ups.