RALEIGH — Do you have the next big tech innovation? But like so many other African-American entrepreneurs, are you struggling to raise capital — or even get your foot in the door?
Well, this may be your chance.
A new series by the Raleigh-based podcast and digital marketing firm Earfluence is in the works that aims to give underrepresented entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their startups to a panel of venture capital firms — “a little like Shark Tank for the Triangle,” says the firm’s CEO Jason Gillikin.
The firm is now sending out a casting call to those who fit the bill for a one-page pitch and a one-minute video about their business.
“Through podcasting, I’ve had the chance to get to know some of the major players Triangle Startup ecosystem,” said Gillikin, who also produces WalkWest CEO Donald Thompson’s “Hustle Unlimited” and Cofounders Capital’s David Gardner’s “The Startup Hats.”
“They are the most welcoming community I’ve been a part of. At the same time, through a diversity and inclusion podcast that we’re working on at Earfluence, I’ve realized that minority entrepreneurs are severely underrepresented.”
According to the oft-cited 2015 report by venture capital research firm CB Insights, black founders received a mere one percent of venture capital (VC) dollars, even though blacks make up 12 percent of the US population.
That figure shrinks event further when it comes to black women founders – with just 0.2 percent of all VC funding going to this group, cited a 2016 report titled Project Jane.
“That disparity – and making a change – is important to several of the VC firms in the Triangle area. So I thought, how can I make a podcast around this incredible startup ecosystem we have here, while bringing attention to the fact that minorities need help getting into that network? And do it in an entertaining way that would be fun for everyone in the business community and podcast fans alike?”
The firm expects to begin recordings for the podcast — still yet to be named — in late February. By mid-March, the first of eight episodes will start coming out, with a live episode scheduled for late April.
The panel of four investors will include Keith Daniel, Resilient Ventures; Robbie Hardy, xElle Group; Tim McLoughlin, Cofounders Capital; and Donald Thompson, an angel investor.
“Some of the entrepreneurs will get interest in their startups, and some won’t,” said Gillikin. “Those who do will come back for the live show, hosted by former news anchor and Emmy award winner Sharon Delaney McCloud, where the startup business community – and podcast fans alike – will see potential deals in action.”