A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:

This week, we had the news of the election of the first Black Senator from the Deep South since Reconstruction. That news feels like a Three Kings Day surprise from a Black woman, Stacey Abrams. Then we had the events at the Capitol, only a few miles from my house, and then two days of relative quiet. On one hand, relief: Our strained democracy is still standing. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. On the other, tiredness, as I watch this afternoon’s political theater in Washington, D.C: How do fractured communities pull themselves back together?

On the question of race, it’s been a year of growth, for me and many. I learned to notice when I felt I was being unjustly judged for my race (I think of this as hurt White people feelings). For this new awareness, I credit a friend of mine, Taylor Hall Debnam. In a phone call during the tumultuous and painful spring, I burst out with, “I just want it to go back to normal.”

 “What is normal?” she said simply. That stopped me cold. I am learning to stop, not get defensive, and listen to the experiences of Black people in the United States. Listening often leads to action. It was a reminder that I have blind spots, sometimes really terrible ones. In addition to political news, I’ve been reading, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, about the limitations of our intuitive minds. “I have made much more progress in recognizing the errors of others than my own,” he said.

During the #MeToo movement, it wasn’t unusual for me to sit around my table with other women hashing over: “What is wrong with men?” I wrote an essay in Quartz about how I’d been sexually harassed. I expected my male friends to wonder about their own responsibility in a system that, at best, excludes women, and at worst, subjects them to violence. But most powerful men I know ducked-and-covered during #MeToo, a big disappointment.

Over time, my thinking evolved. I spent less time on what is wrong with men, and more on what is right with women. My friend Dina Sherif recently pointed out research showing women as more effective leaders, something we covered at Times of E last spring. We need leadership classes that show more men how to lead where women excel, as multitaskers in an increasingly complicated world that requires balance more than certainty.

We’re all creatures of the systems we find ourselves in, blinded by structures that keep us from seeing the experiences of others. It’s only once in a while that you get a gift of empathy or insight that helps you turn a corner, usually carried along by connections with other people – which we make via our intuitions.
Kahneman, of course, starts out by discounting intuition. He is, after all, merely a part of mankind.

Times of Entrepreneurship Stories of the Week

Investors Who Ignore Latinx Entrepreneurs May Be Ignoring The Next Big Thing

Tired of ‘diversity theater,’ more Latinx investors are starting their own firms. Especially for immigrant founders who can make a case based on the size and power of markets of overlooked consumers, the new VC firms offer a path into the venture world.

Read the Story »

Out Of UVA-Wise, A Founder Bootstraps An Ad Analytics Firm

CrowdIq shows the importance of patent research as early as possible in a startup’s trajectory.

Read the Story »

Venture Capital And America’s Slowing Innovation Engine

The story of one Ycombinator startup, launched amid the pandemic to help people addicted to opioids, sheds light on widening economic divisions. 

Read the Story »

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Annual Ballard Award Competition
Deadline: Applications will be available starting in January 2021; other details forthcoming.
Location: Details forthcoming
Information available here.

Emerging companies in the East Tennessee area can compete for a $50,000 investment of capital and in-kind services to support their innovative ideas in this contest, sponsored by the accounting firm PYA. Applicants must submit a business plan.

Luminate Accelerator
Deadline: January 7
Information available here

This startup accelerator focuses on advancing next-generation optics, photonics and imaging-enabled companies. It is taking applications from startup teams for its next cohort. There is an informational webinar on December 16, 1 pm EST.

Paycheck Protection Program 2.0: Accessing Funds/Changes to the Program
Date: January 7, 9 am ET
Information available here

Learn about changes to the Paycheck Protection Program ushered in by the second-round stimulus package, how you can access an apply for funding and what new regulations and paperwork you need to prepare.

Kauffman FastTrac
Date: Starts January 11
Information available here.

This program, run by the Women’s Business Center of South Carolina at Columbia College, will equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the business skills and insights, tools, resources, and peer networks necessary to start and grow successful businesses.

Real Change Opportunity Fund and Ideas Pitch Competition
Deadline: January 15 for first round
Location: Virtual
Information available here.

MTN DEW has partnered with Howard University, Hampton University and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities on this program, which will award $1 million in prizes annually over five years
Ag Entrepreneur
Date: First session is January 19, 2021
Information available here.

The N.C. Cooperative Extension—run by NC State University and N.C. A&T State University—in Caswell County, N.C. is offering this free program for agriculture entrepreneurs. Topics include identifying the strengths of your farm and envisioning your farm business, reaching your goals and business planning and resources.

Invest NY: Health & Wellbeing
Date: January 28
Information available here

Apply to pitch at this startup showcase, run by NYSTAR and Upstate Capital, for up to 20 companies, which will each give a 2-3 minute pre-recorded video introduction. The competition is aimed at tech-enabled startups that have raised some outside capital.

Rice Business Plan Competition
Deadline: February 2, 2021
Information available here

This competition, marking its 20th year, takes place April 5-9. Graduate-level student startups can compete for more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes.

Startup 302
Deadline: February 12, 2021
Information available here

More than $200,000 grant-based and in-kind prizes are being awarded in this competition, targeting startups with at least one member of the founding team from underrepresented groups. The goal is to address the lack of funding that goes to startups led by women and minorities.

Ignite Startup Workshop: Design Thinking for Entrepreneurs
Date: February 16, 2020
Information available here.

The Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Austin and special guest Raj Raghunathan, professor of marketing at the McCombs School of Business, are offering this free workshop on design thinking for entrepreneurs.

Values and Ventures Competition
Deadline: February 22, 2021
Information available here.

Texas Christian University’s Values and Ventures Competition, which takes place from April 16-17, invites undergraduates from around the world to pitch ideas for conscious capitalism ventures that make a profit while solving a problem. The grand prize is $100,000.

Baylor New Venture Competition
Date: March 25-27, 2021; Applications open September 1, 2020
Location: Baylor University; Waco, Texas
Information available here.

Baylor New Venture Competition offers applicants business plan feedback, mentorship, and a chance to compete for more than $250,000 in prizes. Collegiate entrepreneurs from around the globe are eligible to participate in the competition, hosted by Baylor University.

US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency Cares Act Grant Technical Assistance Program
End date: May 31, 2021
Information available here.

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MassCEC’s InnovateMass Program
Deadline: Rolling
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Chandler Innovations
Deadline: Rolling
Location: Chandler, Arizona
Information available here.

Entrepreneurs who live or work in Chandler, Arizona, are eligible to apply for this business incubator. Business ideas must be tech-based.

Venture Capital Spotlight

Supply Change Capital
Chicago and Los Angeles

What it is: Founded in August 2020, Supply Change Capital is a pre-seed and seed stage fund that is focused on 2045, the tipping point when minorities become the majority of U.S. consumers. The firm is investing in companies that are the “changing face of food” via technology, the use of sustainable ingredients and brands that have cultural appeal. It also looks for food brands made by and for specific segments such as women, people of color, diaspora – all verticals that can achieve mass market appeal. The fund thesis was catalyzed by an angel investment in OmSom, a New York-based food company that sells Asian spices and was started by Vanessa Pham and  Kim Pham, sisters and co-founders who are children of Vietnamese refugees.

Leadership: Founded by Noramay Cadena, a former managing partner at MiLA Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm she co-founded in Los Angeles that invested in tech you can touch and also led investments for Portfolia’s Rising America Fund, a micro fund investing in Latinx, Black and LGBTQIA founders; and Shayna Harris, former chief growth officer of Farmer’s Fridge who has advised brands such as Mars, Stonyfield, Unilever and Starbucks on how to implement strategic sourcing and sustainability programs within their businesses.

Investment style/track record: The firm makes average investments of $500,000 to pre-seed and seed stage companies. Over 75% of companies in Supply Change Capital’s pipeline in the past 90 days were founded by women and/or people of color. 

Quote: “Women and people of color who have historically created our food and flavors will play an incredible role in building the next generation of iconic brands at the supermarket,” said Cadena. “We see this wave already building.”

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.

A business journalist for 20 years, am the founder of Times of Entrepreneurship and the co-author of The New Builders.