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DC Startup Week 2020: two sessions with Aaron

The first session was So You Want to Build a Mobile App?
The Session covered what has changed in the web and mobile development ecosystem and what we have learned working in the space for the last 10 years, focused on building solutions for large clients like NMAAHC, Red Cross, NAACP Image Awards, Queens Public Library and DC Health Link and working with smaller entrepreneurs with limited access to capital to get an initial Minimal Viable Product or Functional Prototype to demo to raise additional funds.

The second session Gaining Access - Taking Your Seat at the Table
Building a successful business is hard. It’s especially difficult when you have no access to capital and no inside information on how to get it. Confidence and “hustle” alone won’t bring you success. Taking your seat at the table often requires humility, the willingness to accept guidance from those who have been there before you. Our esteemed panel of entrepreneurs and investors share insights that have helped drive successful outcomes for themselves and the founders they mentor. For further information

Reflections | Projections 2020: Aaron Saunders — The Journey to Inclusive Innovation Incubator (In3DC)

Aaron Saunders joined to "talk about his journey through tech, and how his path evolved from a software developer to an entrepreneur. He focuses on how to address issues related to lack of diversity and the wealth gap in communities of color through initiatives like the Inclusive Innovation Incubator, with the understanding that everyone is able to code if given the opportunity to do so. Saunders also discusses the importance of recognizing talent and fostering that talent to grow. Join us to learn about his incredible experiences and for a deep dive into the thought that goes into forming a space and community where people from underrepresented groups within tech can truly shine through their work."


On September 29, 2020, Aaron Saunders was one of the speakers to discuss that "Technology IS a Superpower". 

CHROMA is a virtual event series and online community by Black & Brown Founders. The team curates a program to capture the genius that so often missing from tech industry conversations. It features Black and Latinx tech entrepreneurs, investors, leaders, and subject matter experts from around the United States and internationally.

If you would like to have Aaron Saunders, Founder and CEO of Clearly Innovative Inc and Inclusive Innovation Incubator (In3DC), speak at an event, send an email to by including in the subject line: Aaron Speaks.
Aaron speaks about entrepreneurship, the tech industry and the importance of tech education.

A VC’s Guide to Investing in Black Founders

Illustration by Aaron Marin
Illustration by Aaron Marin
  • The Four Key Challenges You Need to Overcome:
    1. We Solve Different Problems and Have Different Solutions
    2. Different Surroundings, Different Resources
    3. Different Culture, Different Communication
    4. The Continuous Threat of Unconscious Bias
  • The Reasons Why You Should Invest Black
  • Guide to Sourcing Black Founders
Read more:  A VC’s Guide to Investing in Black Founders
In3Talks 21

Topics Covered In This Session -
  • Update about In3 and what's happening -
  • Based on recent events especially with the BLM, how has corporations' investment in communities of color changed?
  • Do you believe legacy organizations are able to make a difference? What could corporations do differently?
  • What and how can corporations do to create a pipeline of skilled professionals from underserved and underrepresented communities?
  • In3DC is working on IIL focusing on small businesses and tech-enablement, why small businesses?
  • Have we forgotten older populations and how they can adapt to tech tools? your thoughts on: What are the expected outcomes of corporations?
Why Inclusive Innovation Labs (IIL) is important?
The Inclusive Innovation Labs has empowered numerous entrepreneurs to continue their journey building their businesses. In fact, a few of the entrepreneurs have moved ahead to launch their businesses including but not limited to Cardinal Paperie Co. (Nicole Rapley), Guidefi (Charlene Fadirepo), Arkitekt X (Julian Dowell) and our latest participant Technology-Innovation-Law (Christopher Bennett).

Congratulations to Christopher Bennett and his team for being accepted in the Seed Spot Fall 2020 cohort of Impact Accelerator ventures. 

We are happy to be the stepping stone for underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs.
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Companies Are Stepping Up

Netflix to Shift $100 Million in Cash Into Black-Owned Banks

Netflix Inc. will shift as much as $100 million to lenders that serve the Black community, making it the largest company yet to pledge cash to historically underfunded financial institutions. The online TV giant will start by shifting $25 million into the Black Economic Development Initiative, a new fund that will invest in Black-owned financial institutions serving low-income communities, and $10 million to Hope Credit Union. Going forward, the company will steer 2% of its cash on hand, which currently amounts to about $5 billion, to financial organizations that directly support African-American communities. Read more

IBM Invests $100 Million in HBCUs

The IBM-HBCU Quantum Center initiative will help create diversity and inclusion in the field of tech for the next generation. 

Tech company IBM unveiled last Thursday (Sept 17) that they’re investing $100 million to education initiatives at HBCUs around the United States for people that are interested in one of tech’s many rising fields. (...) 

Other HBCUs that are set to take part in the initiative are Coppin State University, Howard University, Morgan State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Texas Southern University, Southern University, Virginia Union University, University of the Virgin Islands, and Xavier University of Louisiana. Read more


After years of talk, tech companies ... diversity efforts

Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced a new effort with more specific goals and support:

The company committed to a 30% increase in the number of people of color in leadership positions over the next five years, and will devote $200 million to support black-owned businesses and organizations — part of a $1.1 billion investment in black and diverse suppliers and communities in the U.S.(..)

A raft of large and small tech companies have made proclamations in recent days, including Google parent Alphabet Inc. (..) SAP SE, Apple Inc., Mozilla Corp., Pinterest Inc., Reddit and a number of startups. Undoubtedly, more are to come. Read More


Accenture Ventures launches initiative to invest in Black founders

According to a recent study, Black founders receive less than 1 percent of VC funding in the U.S. And only about 3 percent of VCs are Black. (..) With the initial launch the Black Founders Development Program will focus on startups in the U.S. .... Internally, Accenture is also looking to boost diversity within its team. The company announced the by 2025 it plans to increase Black representation within its ranks from 9 percent to 12 percent, including increasing representation in managing director positions from 2.8 percent to 4.4 percent. Read more

Kapor Foundation Gives $1 Million In Grant 

Kapor Foundation announced today that they are giving $1 million in grant funding to national civil rights and local grassroots organizations focused on voter education and engagement, voter and election protection, and building political power within Black and Brown communities. Grants range from
$15,000 to $100,000 and are announced ... as a part of the Kapor Center family of organizations' 100 Days of Action for Racial Justice Campaign (...)

The Kapor Center family of organizations—Kapor FoundationKapor Capital, and SMASH—work together to holistically transform the tech and venture capital ecosystems ... Read more

Addressing racial injustice

  • Increasing our representation and culture of inclusion. We will build on our diversity and inclusion (D&I) momentum from the past five years by adding an additional $150M of D&I investment, and will double the number of Black and African American people managers, senior individual contributors, and senior leaders in the United States by 2025.
  • Engaging our ecosystem. We will use our balance sheet and engagement with suppliers and partners to extend the vision for societal change throughout our ecosystem, creating new opportunities for them and the communities they serve.
(..) We will double the number of Black- and African American-owned approved suppliers over the next three years and spend an incremental $500M with those existing and new suppliers. Read more
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