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Diversity-focused accelerator works to create access

A pitch evaluation sheet at Startup 52  Stephanie Hughes

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Right now, a group of brand new startups are in the home stretch of a three month program, preparing for their demo day on Wednesday, September 7th, where they’ll pitch their c companies to funders. The program is part of an accelerator called Startup 52.  Startup52 has a mission: help to educate, support, and eventually fund companies from untapped communities. 

“Part of the reason Startup 52 was created was to bring more access to resources and capital for entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities in tech,” said
the accelerator’s founder Chike Ukaegbu.   “The pipeline is there.  People just don’t know how to find it, or know how to find it, but refuse to find it.”  

Barika Edwards is one of the entrepreneurs in the accelerator’s summer program.  She founded  OweYaa, a platform that helps members of the military and their spouses find work.  She said the accelerator has been essential to meeting angel investors and venture capital funds.  

“We were able to create relationships long term,” said Edwards.  “That is one of the biggest challenges–because we don’t have access, we don’t have the opportunity to have a longer dialogue.” 

Barika Edwards, founder of OweYaa, one of the companies at Startup52.

All of the companies will try to broker even more relationships on demo day next week.  And Ukaegbu hopes it leads to money for these companies–and funding for the accelerator.

“The fact that we have an accelerator that gets no money with 18 companies says a lot,” said Ukaegbu.  “It means there are people who are hungry, who are excited about what they are doing, but need a lot more access, which is what we are trying to create.” 

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