From a newly created $20 million fund, the media company is seeking to help underrepresented races successfully launch their businesses.
Media giant Comcast has officially launched its program to expand opportunities for minority tech entrepreneurs.
In partnership with DreamIt Ventures, a startup accelerator program, Comcast Ventures’ Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (MEAP) kicked off earlier this month. The program includes five startup companies that have been selected by Comcast Ventures and have at least 50 percent of their business owned by African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latino-Americans or Native Americans.
“It’s important not just for African-Americans, but also many other minorities within the tech space,” William Crowder, managing director of DreamIt, and overseer of MEAP tells BET.com. “Many large companies do not have a significant number of minorities represented among their co-founding team. A big gap exists. There is definitely talent, people are out there with ideas, but the issue is how do you get those people out there with the ideas in front of those with capital, the ones who want to invest?”
Each MEAP company will receive up to $25,000 of seed funding, one-on-one mentorship with leading entrepreneurs plus donated legal, accounting and administrative help, the opportunity to pitch to dozens of venture capitalists and investors, and education from a weekly speaker series.
Comcast Ventures and DreamIt plan for the funding, mentorship and experiences to result in a diverse set of experiences and exposure to potential investors for the minority-led startups.
“We have research that shows that minority entrepreneurs are often times underrepresented relative to their proportion of the population,” Katie Lubenow, senior manager of corporate communications at Comcast told BET.com.
The company states that it is eager to see the five innovative startups prosper and that they look forward to providing resources and mentorship to the entrepreneurs.
“This program is really about giving them the opportunity to move their business forward in a very measurable way and hopefully it will increase the likelihood that they will be successful,” Crowder said.
The selected minority businesses include:
ElectNext, Philadelphia: A company that works like a dating site, for your elections. Clients can compare candidates and find the perfect fit.
Kwelia, New York: A company that produces quantitatively derived analytical tools that will facilitate decision-making for residential real estate.
Metalayer, Washington, D.C: A visual search company that turns the real world into sortable data. For example, the search company can turn pictures into 1,000 words.
Qwite, Los Gatos, California: A location-based service, taking clients where they want to go — from intent, to experience and memories.
ThaTrunk Inc., Austin, Texas: A company that uses mobile commerce and geocast technology to help digital creators resonate with their fans and potential consumers.
Hopeful entrepreneurs wishing to reap the benefits from Comcast Ventures multi-million-dollar fund may have to stay patient, however.
“Future funding decisions have not been made at this time, but Comcast remains committed to promoting and increasing diversity in our company, in our programming and in the communities we serve,” Louis Toth, managing director of Comcast Ventures, told BET.com in a statement.
With the help of Comcast, these minority start-up companies may be destined for success, and with a $20 million fund, hopefully even more minority startups will have the opportunity to jump-start their businesses, sooner rather than later, as well.
For more information on the program visit here.
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(Photo: Fred Prouser/Reuters)