Rev1 Ventures Launches Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Grant Fund to Level Playing Field for Underserved Entrepreneurs Building High-Growth Companies

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Startup Studio Combines Grant Fund with Educational Workshops to Create Pipeline of Tech-Enabled Business

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Pairing hands-on advisory services with grant funding will increase the success rate for underserved founders in our own backyard. Our hope is to expand this fund with additional support from our private sector partners.

Today, Rev1 Ventures, the startup studio that combines capital and strategic services to help startups scale and corporates innovate, is announcing the launch of the Rev1 Ventures Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Grant Fund to help level the playing field for women and founders of color who are building high-growth companies. The grant fund is paired with educational workshops to create a pipeline of tech-enabled businesses. Franklin County and the City of Columbus join Rev1 in seeding the grant fund, which plans to distribute grants initially through 2023.

According to a Gartner study, companies with diverse and inclusive decision-making teams are 75% more likely to exceed financial targets; however, minority founders often lack early friends and family startup funding. To support the growth of more diverse-led companies, the DE&I Grant Fund will deploy $600,000 in grants to foster the growth of six tech-enabled, high-growth companies in the Columbus region led by women or founders of color. The $100K grants will provide salary and benefits for underserved founders, while building a pipeline of entrepreneurs who are able to dedicate their time to focus on building their business.

“These grants and workshops will foster entrepreneurs and assist them to have the equitable start that all founders deserve. These entrepreneurs want to cultivate their vision and contribute to the local economy, but they start at a disadvantage,” said Franklin County Commissioners Board President Erica C. Crawley. “Less than 19 percent of businesses in America are minority-owned, and women own another 19 percent. Research has shown that women and entrepreneurs of color have not had the same opportunities to be prepared for the business world. Today’s announcement highlights just a couple of the many tools Franklin County utilizes to move us toward a level playing field.”

“Women and minority-owned startups are too often passed over or have missed their chance to take advantage of some of the opportunities afforded to others. By placing these owners at the front of the line for this funding, we will support promising businesses disproportionately impacted by some of this historic unfairness, said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “Rev1 and this DE&I Grant will be instrumental as we collectively work to build a stronger pipeline for our small businesses and startups. This fund helps us open doors so that these businesses will have equitable access to capital and opportunities as well as community support.”

Rev1 has also partnered with Aventi Enterprises, a strategic consulting firm helping small businesses access capital and contracting opportunities, to build a pipeline for the fund via a community Business Accelerator and advisory services for founders. In addition to supporting salary and benefits for underserved innovators, grantees will also receive support in recruiting key talent for their companies through access to subsidized interns and fellows via Rev1’s Innovation Internship Program, which connects diverse student talent with startups in Central Ohio.

“Businesses with diverse leaders outperform their peers in almost every way,” said Kristy Campbell, COO at Rev1 Ventures. “Yet women and founders of color are playing from behind, especially when starting and growing tech-based businesses. Pairing hands-on advisory services with grant funding will increase the success rate for underserved founders in our own backyard. Our hope is to expand this fund with additional support from our private sector partners.”

Rev1 seeded the fund and has provided early awards to three client companies.

  • -Fleri, is a reliable, secure, and affordable way for immigrants to give their families back home access to high-quality healthcare from first-rate providers. “The continued support of Rev1 has been paramount in our ability to scale and maximize our opportunities for growth,” said Sam Baddoo, founder & CEO at Fleri. ”We have a very important mission and the capital, educational workshops and ongoing strategic counsel helps ensure we can deliver on our promise of delivering a cross-border insurance marketplace that brings peace of mind and financial security to immigrants and their loved ones back home.”
  • -Equitek, a company addressing the healthcare staffing and scheduling challenges that face the industry nationwide. Using proprietary artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, Equitek’s My Shift Health mobile application and technological infrastructure matches clinicians and other healthcare professionals directly with facilities to reduce staffing costs for facilities and improve work-life balance of healthcare professionals.
  • -Color Coded Labs finds, trains, and places gritty, working adults from underrepresented communities in career pathways in the tech industry that promote generational wealth building. The 19-week bootcamp program helps fill the intense demand for diverse Full Stack software developers in tech organizations of every size.”

The DE&I Grant Fund will have two funding cycles per year and include a two-step application process that is evaluated by the grant committee, which consists of Rev1 and Aventi staff. The top applicants will be invited to present to the committee.

The grant fund comes on the heels of Rev1’s participation in the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build to Scale program, which aims to accelerate technology entrepreneurship by increasing inclusive access to business support and startup capital. The EDA grant is paired with $1.4MM from Rev1 as the local match. Rev1 is among 50 entrepreneurship-focused organizations that received the EDA grant. The grant supports the expansion of mentoring and support resources; the development of diverse intern and fellowship programs, as well as the addition of Rev1 fellows.

The DE&I Grant follows the recent launch of Rev1’s Grow to Scale Mentor Program, which provides women and entrepreneurs of color access to a network of experienced, diverse executives who provide one-on-one support, advice, and networking for founders building tech-enabled, high-growth companies. For more information about the Rev1 Ventures DE&I Grant, including further details about the funding opportunity and transparency into funded companies, visit http://www.rev1ventures.com/dei-grant.

About Rev1 Ventures
Rev1 Ventures is the startup studio that combines capital and strategic services to help startups scale and corporates innovate. Based in the Midwest, Rev1 connects entrepreneurs to talent, customers, space and funding, to help entrepreneurs build great companies. With a proven track record of success, Rev1 is the most active seed investor in Ohio for the past seven years.

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