The American Underground is bringing a Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange event focusing on growing and mentoring black-founded startups in October. AU executive Adam Klein explains why the AU is doing so and says response “has been phenomenal.”

In a Q&A, Klein tells the story.

  • Why is AU supporting this?

We are excited to be partnering with Google for Entrepreneurs to launch this one of a kind program in Durham.

The Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange program has been in action for over a year in order to help startups access unique resources in GFE hubs across North America and the world.

As Jesica Averhart [director of new business development for AU] and I considered what unique angle American Underground and Durham could offer, support for Black founders was at the top of the list.

From historical roots in Black Wall Street to American Underground’s commitment to build the most diverse startup hub in the world, this Exchange program made sense to be based here. We’re excited to continue positioning our community as the Startup Hub of the South and a destination for founders from many backgrounds.

  • What do you see as the benefits of it for these entrepreneurs?

Because of the partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs and the network we’ve been building around the work of diversity and inclusion, we are going to bring a national network of experts, mentors and funders to support participating startups.

Our goal is to ready these teams to raise a seed-round but also have tools to address unconscious bias that Black founders face in the business world.

At the end of the day, our goal is to launch some of the best Black led startups from this program and that half would go on to raise that seed round within nine months.

  • Can you give our readers an overview of the program?

The program will kick-off October 9 and run through October 15. It overlaps with Black Wall Street Homecoming, now in its second year, which brings hundreds of business leaders and entrepreneurs together in Durham.

Teams will be assigned a mentor who will work on pitch coaching and product-market fit throughout the week culminating in a pitch event on Friday afternoon.

So far, the response to this program has been phenomenal as we’re fielding interest from investors across the country who would like to come to Durham to see the final pitches. It promises to be an exciting and important week for our startup community!