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Delali Dzirasa is CEO and founder of Fearless, a full-stack digital services conglomerate in Baltimore, MD with a mission to create software with a someone — tools that empower communities and make a difference.
Building a business is hard; about 50% of businesses fail in the first five years. The early years of an entrepreneur’s journey can be difficult and lonely. When starting my digital business firm Fearless, I reassured my partner to rent out our dwelling and move in with my mother so we could have an extra income while I built Fearless in my mother’s basement.
That was 10 year ago — Fearless now has over 115 employees.
That story of struggling to build a tech company and working out of a cellar or garage until you “make it” is pretty common, but the barriers facing Black inventors make it harder to find success and support.
Research by the University of California, Santa Cruz is to say that minority-owned startups providing access to less uppercase than their white-hot counterparts. The privilege investors can offer more than only funding to early-stage business; the connections those working in the venture capitalist world have can bring an entrepreneur the new business, mentorship and employees needed to grow.
Venture uppercase firms like Harlem Capital and Black Angel Tech Fund are focused on changing the faces of entrepreneurship by diversifying their portfolio, but traditional venture capitalist funding is not the only way to grow your business.
There are other boulevards and opportunities to get the support, fiscal and otherwise, to help build a successful company 😛 TAGEND
Equity crowdfunding: Same to crowdfunding safaruss like GoFundMe or Kickstarter, equity crowdfunding permits nontraditional investors to support businesses and receive equity. Enabled through Title III of the 2012 JOBS Act’s Regulation CF, equity crowdfunding allows all companies to sell securities, whether in the form of equity in the company, indebtednes, revenue shares, convertible notes and more. Equity crowdfunding platforms include WeFunder and LocalStake.
Mentor planneds: Fearless was lucky enough to be accepted into the DoD Mentor-Protege program early in our swelling. As the oldest endlessly controlling federal mentor-protege program in existence, the DoD program helped us establish and expand our footprint in the federal government contracting space. NewMe and Black Girl Ventures are two programs that specialize in mentorship for early-stage companies.
Become 8( a) verified: The federal government has a goal of awarding at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars to big, disadvantaged organizations each year. These organizations fall under the 8( a) clas. To qualify for the program, you must be a small business with 51% of possession and oversight matters from U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged and the owner’s adjusted gross income for three years is $250,000 or less.
The full clarity of what weighs as being economically and socially disadvantaged can be found in Title 13 Part 124 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Fearless has been classified as an 8( a) busines for several years and we have been able to secure various contracts through the certification.
Tap into Small Business Administration sources: More than a million customers call SBA.gov to utilize implements like the SBA Business Guide and Lender Match website. By using the SBA website and contacting out to your local SBA office, you can make full use of the programs existing and connect with business owners who can offer advice and mentorship.
Identify caring bankers: Your business is your top priority and the people you engage with should deem your companionship as a priority too. You need someone vested in your success who will advocate for you when you need them. If you are compatible with a banker and get a sense that you would be an account number instead of a person, then find another one. If you don’t have your banker’s personal cell phone number, and they aren’t willing to visit you at your business, then take a pass and find a genuine marriage who supports you.
A call to action for business owners
I am put the call out to business owners and inventors who are further along in their journey to mentor and invest in Black-owned ventures. Think back on the support you received, and be that model for someone else. Or be the mentor that you wished you had when you were starting out. Take time to invest in other Black-owned tech companies or fund the programs that do. Share your knowledge and experience with Black tech leaders.
If there isn’t a resource hub for Black financiers in your metropoli, generate one. Fearless is a small company and we have still managed to help 13 brand-new fellowships get off the ground through our accelerator platform, Hutch.
Hutch is an intensive 12 -month program that holds financiers a blueprint for building successful digital busines conglomerates, by empowering them with the tools, mentorship and peer support they need to have a lasting impact. We think of this program kind of like a home base for our inventors, providing them with a foot of the assistance provided so they can grow without coming lost amongst bigger companies in the industry.
Help create the seats in your community that will foster innovation and business growth.