7 Black-led startups receive $75,000 NC IDEA grants

7 Black-led startups receive $75,000 NC IDEA grants


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DURHAM – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, alongside the leadership of the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council (NC BEC), announced today that the organization has awarded $525,000 in Growth Grants to seven Black-founded former NC IDEA SEED grant recipients.

“Today the world celebrates the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an icon of the modern civil rights era. Inspired by his teachings and our desire to expand equitable economic empowerment with entrepreneurship, the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council, with support from the NC IDEA Board and staff, are announcing Growth Grants to seven Black-founded companies,” said Thom Ruhe, CEO of NC IDEA. “These founders are leaders in the Black Entrepreneurship community and this funding will accelerate their growth while hopefully encouraging other minority founders to follow in their footsteps,” Ruhe continued. “In making these unprecedented grants, we hope it will likewise inspire other organizations to rethink their approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” Ruhe concluded.

The seven NC BEC Growth Grant grant recipients are:

BatteryXchange – Charlotte, NC

BatteryXchange is a sharing economy platform providing device charging on the go, and marketing services to amplify the voices of small businesses. (Spring 2021 SEED Grant Recipient)

Courtroom5 – Durham, NC

Courtroom5 is a low-cost automated service that helps people represent themselves in civil court. (Fall 2018 SEED Grant Recipient)

Davos Corporation – Durham, NC

Davos Corporation is a lender match platform for business capital that guarantees each loan. (Fall 2020 SEED Grant Recipient)

Freeman Capital – Charlotte, NC

Freeman Capital is a new automated trading company that brings wealth empowerment to the middle class and millennials. (Spring 2018 SEED Grant Recipient)

LoanWell – Durham, NC

LoanWell is an automated loan and grant origination platform with end-to-end functionality for intake, underwriting, closing, servicing and reporting. (Fall 2017 SEED Grant Recipient)

Renaissance Fiber – Winston-Salem, NC | Wilmington, NC

Renaissance Fiber (RF) is a North Carolina clean-tech manufacturer of hemp and other natural fibers with a vision to reimagine the textile industry as working for, and not against, nature. (Spring 2019 SEED Grant Recipient)

Smart Girls HQ – Charlotte, NC

Smart Girls HQ creates engaging content and facilitates exciting experiences that enable elementary-aged girls to achieve STEM Career Literacy by age 12. (Spring 2021 SEED Grant Recipient)

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The NC BEC Growth Grants were awarded to former NC IDEA SEED grant recipients with primary headquarters in North Carolina with at least one founder actively working at the company identifying as Black or African-American. Recipients have made significant progress beyond the NC IDEA SEED stage and are poised to leverage the additional funding to obtain tangible milestones within the next year. Through the awarding of $75,000 Growth Grants to Black-founded NC IDEA SEED companies, the NC BEC is addressing inequities in fundraising that Black startup entrepreneurs face while scaling their companies. Black startup entrepreneurs received only a tiny fraction — 1.2 percent — of the record $147 billion in venture capital invested in U.S. startups through the first half of this year, Crunchbase numbers show. That compares with the more than 13 percent of the U.S. population that is Black or African American.





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Kassie Hoffman
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