As more economic and diverse professional opportunities for African-Americans present themselves in regions other than Silicon Valley, Black entrepreneurs are beginning to look into migrating down South to start their businesses.
Similar to Atlanta, which has become a new hub for Black techies, Dallas is developing into a strong corporate business and philanthropic sector for Black entrepreneurs.
Among those businesses in Dallas looking to lead the charge as the country’s emerging cultural hub is a startup accelerator and impact-first fund Impact Ventures.
Designed with a vision of collaboration and entrepreneurship, Impact Ventures believes that while talent knows no geographic bounds, access and opportunity do.
“Impact Ventures has worked strategically to build more equitable and inclusive local economies through its culturally responsive business support structure focused on stimulating job growth and driving equity within the Dallas economy,” said founder and Chief Executive Officer Benjamin J. Vann.
Keeping this in mind, the startup accelerator has sought out to train 95 entrepreneurs, 125 students, engaged more than 50 mentors, and hosted networking and educational events with over 2,800 individuals in attendance – including an 800-person hackathon.
“Our mission is to eliminate the social and economic barriers for women and entrepreneurs of color building high-impact businesses and social enterprises that create sustainable, inclusive and equitable local economies,” shared Vann.
According to Vann, Dallas — like many other southern parts of the U.S. — is seeing rapid growth in terms of entrepreneurial opportunities and minority enterprises. The youthful city is beginning to blossom into a young, entrepreneurial ecosystem that presents a “unique opportunity to embed an intentional effort on Black and brown communities within the DNA of a major U.S city.”
NBC News reported that the southern migration shows that Black entrepreneurs are moving toward areas with dedicated environments that support tech professionals who wish to connect socially and professionally. Thus, creating new hubs around the country designed specifically to cater to their needs in the tech space and their businesses.
Impact Ventures wants to solve the issue of a lack of access “to institutional knowledge, high impact and affluent social networks, and equitable capital investments for Black entrepreneurs,” according to Vann.
“Initiatives like Rise of the Rest and Capital Factor’s $100K Diversity Challenge have scratched only the surface of the talent and opportunities that are here within Black and brown communities,” he said. “The more success stories programs like ours and others have, the more we’ll continue to gain interest and see increased activity from the VC/investment community.”
Vann’s belief for his company is that this growth requires an effort to distribute resources evenly amongst Black entrepreneurs.
“At Impact Ventures, we deploy our services through an innovative model consisting of asset building, ecosystem building, and narrative change,” he said.
Impact Ventures’ approach will focus on producing more efficient business outcomes through training and sourcing both traditional and non-traditional investors who want to get involved in getting these startups off the ground.
Impact Ventures has played a huge role in advancing Dallas’ structure to position it as the new cultural hub for emerging Black business owners.
“Our first three years started with ecosystem building because the community we needed so desperately did not exist,” Vann said. “We spent time connecting, listening, and engaging with our community to understand the needs of our founders.”
Through the engagement they’ve created, Impact Ventures has been able to advise Black and brown founders while building tech products plus connect them with tech mentors, designers, and business strategists to help them develop tech-enabled ventures.
In terms of community collaboration in Dallas, which has been scarce up until recent years, Impact Ventures believes they helped start the wave of Black excellence in the city. Now they’re focusing on connecting Black and brown legacy groups through various pathways that lead to skill development, tech entrepreneurship, and pipelines for business development and new investment opportunities in the city.
Dallas offers numerous ways to plug into the business ecosystem, including “meetup groups, networking events, hackathons, and design jams,” according to Vann.
His startup accelerator strongly encourages community engagement in spread-out regions of the city through the organization so Black techies don’t feel isolated.
As Impact Ventures looks toward the future, they’re excited to put Dallas on the map in order to spark change in impact investing for racial equity as well as be a vessel to address the recovery and rebuilding phases of many Black businesses for the rest of the year and beyond.
This Saturday, Impact Ventures is hosting its free virtual Spring 2020 Startup Showcase to celebrate the accomplishments of their Spring 2020 Accelerator Fellows.
The online event will allow founders to participate in a showcase with pre-recorded pitches as well as hear featured guest judges, a live DJ set, community voting, and more.
The event is open to the public and Impact Ventures hopes to see the greater Black tech community support their founders on their startup journey.
To register for the showcase, go to https://hopin.to/events/impact-ventures-spring-2020-startup-showcase.
For more information on Impact Ventures, visit https://impact-ventures.co.