This article originally appeared on Nielsen.com.
The Nielsen Foundation and Tampa Bay Wave, Inc. have recently collaborated to launch the TechDiversity Accelerator Program, a program specifically dedicated to fostering the growth of diverse startups in the central Florida region and across the country. The Foundation granted Tampa Bay Wave $100,000 to power the TechDiversity Accelerator.
The Nielsen Foundation is a private foundation funded by Nielsen that began grantmaking in 2016. Through grantmaking, the Foundation seeks to enhance the social sector’s use of data to reduce discrimination, ease global hunger, promote effective education, and build strong leadership. Tampa Bay Wave is a nonprofit dedicated to building, launching, and growing tech companies in Tampa Bay and other parts of central Florida.
“Our collaboration with the Wave, one of the Foundation’s first signature programs, will allow us to have a direct impact on the growth of diverse businesses who drive job creation and prosperity in the communities we share,” said Crystal Barnes, Executive Director, Grantmaking for the Nielsen Foundation.
To be considered as a candidate for the TechDiversity Accelerator program, companies must be in an early development stage and at least 51% owned, controlled and operated by a minority, woman, veteran, or LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) person, or combination thereof. Applicants that are selected will participate in a 90-day program designed to help them grow. In addition to having access to the Wave’s new seed fund, companies will be provided other invaluable resources including a dedicated entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR), one-on-one mentoring with notable tech founders, pitch coaching, investment readiness programs, and investor introductions. Participants will also have the opportunity to participate in the Wave’s Demo Day upon the program’s conclusion.
Volunteers from Nielsen’s Supplier Diversity team and other internal associates are also playing a supporting role in the TechDiversity Accelerator program. The team is dedicated to giving diverse businesses the tools they need to grow. As part of its broader initiatives, our Supplier Diversity team has developed mentoring programs to connect experienced executives with small businesses. By providing this counsel to diverse businesses, we’re helping them prep for supplier consideration among global corporations while also helping them create employment opportunities, which benefit the entire community.
“Diverse entrepreneurs are not only growing in numbers and economic impact, but they provide an essential ability to design products and services for a rapidly, diversifying global population,” said Lamont Robinson, VP, Supplier Diversity, Nielsen. “We hope that by providing them access to our staff and resources, we’re helping them grow sustainably, which will help diversify all large companies’ supply chains.”
Tampa Bay Wave will also work with the Checkered Flag Run Foundation, an Arizona-based nonprofit dedicated to diversity, to promote the program application process nationwide. Additionally, participating companies will be given an opportunity to pitch their product and services to the members of the AEMS (Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Sports) Industry Group, powered by the National Minority Supplier Development Council, exposing diverse companies to potential large-scale clients.
The TechDiversity Accelerator program application opened earlier this month and will close on March 31, 2018. The program is scheduled to begin this summer. Companies that successfully complete the program will participate in Tampa Bay Wave’s Demo Day in August, which will be a unique opportunity for founders to present their companies to a room full of hand-selected investors, leaders and press.
“Tampa Bay Wave is thrilled to launch the TechDiversity Accelerator program, powered by The Nielsen Foundation, here in Tampa Bay. The Wave is committed to removing barriers for underrepresented startups,” said Linda Olson, President and Founder of Tampa Bay Wave. “We look forward to promoting the power of diversity in the tech startup community with the creation of this inclusive program so that participants are able to hone their talents and fuel their innovative growth, which, will contribute to the strength of our entrepreneurial community.”
To apply to the TechDiversity Accelerator program, or to learn more, visit http://www.tampabaywave.org/accelerator/tech-diversity.