The HBCU Founders Initiative and UNCF Host Better Futures Pitch Competition at the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.

By Dr. Lawrence Jones II

I was invited to attend the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., which featured ten top-performing startups from the HBCU Founders Fellowship program who competed for up to $25,000 in funding. I joined fellow founders of companies and corporate executives, investors, government officials, university administrators, and HBCU faculty, students, and alums from the DMV region. I have been a fractioned Chief Science Officer for the Idhini team from 2021-2022. Their platform still has an outstanding value proposition. All of the teams that pitched have an exceptional value proposition.

I had the opportunity to speak with Marlon Evans, the President of the HBCU FI and CEO of Nex Cubed. He explained that "this is an awesome opportunity for the participants, the venue is superb, and the networking opportunity here at this event is priceless. PR Newswire (April 21, 2023) also explains that Mr. Evans stated, "We are excited to showcase HBCU founders, who often lack access to the resources necessary to scale their businesses, at the Better Futures competition." The HBCU Founders Initiative (HBCUFI), a startup accelerator and non-profit that works with founders at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and The United Negro College Fund (UNCF), a philanthropic organization that funds scholarships for Black students and 37 HBCUs.

I also quickly connected with Dr. Chad Womack, the UNCF's vice president of National STEM Programs and Tech Initiatives. It is always a pleasure to see Dr. Womack. He emphasizes that "the pitch competition represents a capstone experience for students participating in the HBCU Founders Fellowship program and provides a wonderful showcase of their entrepreneurial talents so the world" . The ten Better Futures finalists are students and alumni from the following HBCUs: Bowie State University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, Spelman College, and Oakwood University.

Below are the companies that presented:

· Co-Lab Instrumental Radio - Instrumental Radio generated by hosting beat submission contests and DJ mix contests (Bowie State University) Jarrell Washington

· Car Seat Companion - Improving car seats today to make them safer tomorrow (Elizabeth City State University) Angel Teagle $5 K Friday night’s second place winner.

· Vaila Shoes - A modern dress shoe brand for women with extended shoe sizes (Fayetteville State University) Ahriana Edwards Friday night’s first place winner $15K. She also announced on April 21 her new collaboration with Macy's.

· Idhini, Inc - Connecting the BIPOC community to medical research (Morgan State University) Trevor Alexander

· Monocle - A social e-reader that enables a community-focused reading experience through shared notes wit

hin a book (North Carolina A&T State University) $5 K third place winner Leslie Winston

· Scholist App - A scholarship platform designed to help students discover, apply, and keep track of scholarships (Prairie View A&M University) Abidemi Awojuyigbe

· WellMiss - Virtual and holistic healing space for women of all backgrounds to work through trauma (Spelman College) Jennifer "Jaki" Johnson

· Back to the Roots - Solving food insecurity by providing quick, accessible, and healthy solutions (North Carolina A&T State University) Back to the Roots Team

· Covered Always - Protect your investment with Covered Always Car Warranty (Oakwood University) Nancy Pierre

· All Things College - Informing students and parents nationwide on college readiness, standardized test prep, and scholarships (Spelman College) Gia Tejeda

HBCUFI (April 21, 2023) reports that HBCU founders initiative was launched by Nex Cubed. The HBCU Founders Initiative aims to catalyze investment in African Americans by supporting HBCU students and alums along their entrepreneurial journey, encouraging them to pursue technology solutions that close the racial wealth gap ranging from increasing access to healthcare, education, and financial services.” As of the beginning of 2022, over 650 students and alums from 75+ HBCUs have benefitted from the program. A job well done in Washington, D.C. April 21, 2023. I look forward to the next competitions.

The Narrative Matters!

References:

Cision PR Newswire (April 21, 2023). The HBCU Founders Initiative and UNCF Host Better Futures Pitch Competition for Startup Founders from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The HBCU Founders Initiative and UNCF Host Better Futures Pitch Competition for Startup Founders from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (prnewswire.com)

HBCUFI. (April 21, 2023).HBCU Founders Initiative (hbcufi.org)

HBCUFI. (April 21, 2023).Corporate Partners — HBCU Founders Initiative (hbcufi.org)

Nex3. (April 21, 2023). Nex Cubed (nex3.com)

UNCF. (April 21, 2023). Who We Are - UNCF

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