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Peadbo Founder Keith Chaney, Accelerator Cohort 4 Alum, Inspires Students on Advisory Boards and Personal Growth

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Exciting News! Keith Chaney, founder of Peadbo and a proud alum of our 4th Accelerator Cohort, recently visited Detroit public high school students to share insights on personal advisory boards. As a first-generation college graduate, Keith highlights the importance of support systems for underestimated students. Peadbo, a cloud-based platform short for Personal Advisory Board, empowers users to build and manage teams for personal or professional growth. Additionally, it helps in creating recurring newsletters for a broader network of supporters and advisors.

🚀 Noteworthy: Peadbo’s growing roster of customers includes universities, corporations, and young professionals focused on leveling up their careers. Explore more about Peadbo’s innovative platform at peadbo.com. #Education #SupportSystem #PeadboJourney #AcceleratorAlum

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Accelerator

Double Success: Plug In Alums Carlos Rivera (Subler) and Remy Meraz (Zella) Each Receive Funding Through PledgeLA’s Founder Fund

🌟 Milestone Alert! 💰 Plug In celebrates over $50K in funding granted to our incredible alums, including Carlos Rivera and Remy Meraz. Carlos, an alum of our Cohort 4 Accelerator Program, secured a $25K PledgeLA Grant, while Remy, Co-Founder of Zella Life, also received a PledgeLA Grant. This remarkable achievement highlights their innovation and success. Congratulations to our trailblazing entrepreneurs! 👏🎉 #FundingSuccess #PlugInAlums #InnovationMatters

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Accelerating Innovation: Cohort 4 Ventures to Beaverton, Oregon for an Immersive Workshop at Nike’s Global Headquarters

In a groundbreaking stride towards innovation, Cohort 4, featuring dynamic companies such as Sway Brand, Peadbo, At Their Side, Postal Petals, Upward, Subler, Nutrible, and others, recently embarked on a transformative journey to Nike’s global headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. The day-long workshop at the epicenter of sports and technology was designed to refine their storytelling prowess and enhance their approach to framing the compelling problems they are addressing in the market.

Derek Smith, Founder of Plug In Ventures, expressed the significance of this unique opportunity, stating, “Our mission at Plug In Ventures is not only to nurture groundbreaking startups but to provide them with an environment where they can learn from industry giants. The immersive workshop at Nike’s HQ exemplifies our commitment to shaping not just businesses, but narratives that resonate with the world.”

The cohort, comprised of ventures like Sway Brand, Peadbo, At Their Side, Postal Petals, Upward, Subler, Nutrible, and more, delved into a series of sessions led by storytelling experts and industry veterans. Through absorbing narratives of Nike’s own journey, the startups gained insights into the art of storytelling as a powerful tool for building connections and conveying purpose beyond mere products or services.

The day unfolded with interactive workshops, facilitated by seasoned mentors and Nike’s in-house experts. The startups were challenged to articulate and frame the complex problems they aim to solve in the market, distilling them into narratives that not only conveyed urgency but also resonated with the human aspects of the issues.

As the ventures engaged in hands-on sessions within Nike’s innovative spaces, from cutting-edge labs to design studios, they found inspiration in the marriage of creativity and strategic thinking. Networking sessions provided opportunities for the cohort to connect not only with each other but also with experts from Nike, fostering a collaborative environment that transcended the workshop.

Reflecting on the experience, Derek Smith stated, “Our cohort comprises trailblazing companies like Sway Brand, Peadbo, At Their Side, Postal Petals, Upward, Subler, Nutrible, and others, and their journey at Nike’s HQ is about more than just refining storytelling skills. It’s about immersing themselves in a culture of innovation, connecting with like-minded visionaries, and leaving with a heightened ability to communicate the profound impact they aim to make in the market.”

As Cohort 4 departed from Nike’s headquarters, the transformative experience became a pivotal chapter in their entrepreneurial journey. Armed with a refined narrative approach and a strengthened sense of purpose, these ventures, including Sway Brand, Peadbo, At Their Side, Postal Petals, Upward, Subler, Nutrible, and more, are poised to reshape the future of their industries and make a lasting impact on the world.

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Blog Uncategorized

ChargerHelp Co-Founder Kameale Terry, an Alum of Cohort 3, Secures Impressive $17.5 Million in Series A Funding Post Accelerator

ChargerHelp! Continues to Lead the Way with Technology Solutions Focused on Increasing EV Charger Uptime

Los Angeles, CA – ChargerHelp! a leader in operations, maintenance and workforce development for the EV industry, announced today that it raised $17.5M in Series A financing. The round was led by Blue Bear Capital with investments from Aligned Climate Capital, Exelon Corporation, and previous investors which include Energy Impact Partners and non sibi ventures among a number of other committed insiders. –The fresh capital helps the company double down on their commitment to reliable EV charging. ChargerHelp! has experienced month-over-month revenue growth and increased customer traction in response to efforts to educate and service the market.

“This commitment by our investors makes it possible for ChargerHelp! to scale as the demand for our technology and service offerings has rapidly increased with more companies and municipalities recognizing the demand for cleaner, more sustainable and reliable solutions,” said Kameale C. Terry, CEO of ChargerHelp!.

As EV adoption continues to grow, the need for reliable charging stations is vital for the industry’s expansion. Through this raise, ChargerHelp! will continue to build out their EMPWR reliability software platform, expand their Reliability as a Service (RaaS) offering, and grow their workforce development programs – all essential products and services needed to maintain and repair EV charging station infrastructure.

“Dependable charger uptime is critical for widespread vehicle electrification, and ChargerHelp! presents the most differentiated and data-driven approach in the market,” said Vaughn Blake, Partner at Blue Bear Capital. “Kameale and Evette bring a passion and expertise to the vertical that is honestly unmatched. They will win and Blue Bear will be there to support them at every step along the way.”

“We are usually expecting an availability of industrial equipment in the high 90% range. With EV chargers today, it’s 60% or sometimes less, an unacceptable situation for equipment that is often publicly subsidized. ChargerHelp! is the only company today that is using data and software to help with this programmatically,” said Blue Bear Capital Partner Carolin Funk, PhD.

With the growth of EV deployment under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, many public EV chargers are falling short of the mark set by NEVI’s requirements. Yet ChargerHelp!’s EVSE technician support and data-driven insights have shown they can help their customers meet the required 97% uptime. These solutions inspired past investors like Elemental Excelerator and current ones to support the company’s mission.

“Since our initial investment, we have seen growing momentum in uptime reliability and ChargerHelp! has directly serviced that market need from day one,” said Vida Asiegbu, Investor at Energy Impact Partners. “We are excited to continue to support ChargerHelp’s mission to drive first-class service and operations in vehicle electrification. The voice of the customer from our platform of energy providers and technology enablers echoes the clear need for ChargerHelp’s market support.”

“If you can’t charge, you can’t drive,” said Nneka Kibuule, Principal of Aligned Climate Capital. “ChargerHelp’s software and technicians ensure that EV chargers are operational when drivers pull up to charge.”

Early last year, ChargerHelp! launched Reliability as a Service (RaaS), a labor subscription service that provides peace of mind to charging station owners and operators, who require fast and reliable O&M services at consistent, hassle-free prices. As the only national EVSE-dedicated operations and maintenance service provider, ChargerHelp! takes a technology-first approach to providing their clients with reliable, predictable, and hassle-free EV charging.

“Of course, we’re very impressed by Kameale, her team, and what she’s building,” said Kent Lucas, General Partner of non sibi ventures. “But we’re most excited about their technology solving the massive software and data problems electrification faces.”

“At this pivotal point in the fight against climate change, we are focused on finding innovative solutions to mitigate its devastating effects,” said Sunny Elebua, senior vice president and Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer for Exelon. “Through our 10-year, $20 million Climate Change Investment Initiative (2c2i), we are investing in companies like ChargerHelp! that are working to reduce those impacts in the communities we serve, particularly in under-resourced areas, which are disproportionately affected by climate change.”

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About ChargerHelp!:

ChargerHelp!’s app-based dispatch and deployment system solves the industrywide problem of downed electric vehicle charging stations by providing on-demand repairs and maintenance support from trained local workforces. This capability, provided at scale, is essential to support sharp growth in EV charging infrastructure and dramatically improve efficiency, turnaround time, and network availability while reducing costs across the networks. With the ChargerHelp!’s service offering, partner EV charging owners and operators can meet new service-level requirements and win new EVSE contracts to meet the exponential growth in charging demands. For more information, visit www.chargerhelp.com.

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Accelerator

Tech Accelerators Open Doors for Health Care Entrepreneurs of Color

Derek Smith, founder of Plug In South L.A., a tech accelerator supported by CHCF’s Innovation Fund. Photo: Alyssa Pointer

When working nights at a San Diego hospital, Steven Moyo, MD, saw many patients whose illnesses could have been prevented had they gotten better access to medical care and health information they could relate to.

“Health education was one of the big things that was missing,” said Moyo, who is board certified in internal medicine. “Doctors would give patients a six-page article to read, but everything you get from your doctor ends up in the back seat of the car.”

Steven C. Moyo, MD CEO and Founder of Welfie
Steven Moyo, MD, founder of the health-tech start-up Welfie.

Moyo’s experiences led him to co-found Welfie, a health-tech startup that aims to improve health literacy for vulnerable adults and children. The 2-year-old company offers a “wellness selfie,” a digital screening tool that delivers personalized health information and referrals to health and social services. Along the way, Moyo and his co-founders have partnered with tech accelerators for financial and technical support as they grow their business, including Plug In South LA. Tech accelerators are organizations that help early-stage tech companies develop products, scale their business models, and network with investors.

The California Health Care Foundation’s Innovation Fund has been directly investing in health technology companies for more than a decade. That work includes supporting tech accelerators, like Plug In South LA, Startup HealthVisible HandsVillage Capital, and Prime Health ꟷ organizations that assist entrepreneurs of color who may be shut out of funding opportunities by Silicon Valley’s venture capital community.

The Innovation Fund invests in health tech companies at an early stage and prioritizes startups founded by women and people of color. Whether through accelerators or direct investments, the fund’s goal is to give early support to companies with the potential to significantly lower health costs or improve access to care for Californians with low incomes. CHCF’s financial support “has been incredibly helpful in allowing us to leverage our resources and our network to support founders in ways we would not have been able to otherwise,” said Derek Smith, founder of Plug In South LA.

Smith’s accelerator program helps Black and Latino/x entrepreneurs fine-tune their business plans, market research, and investment pitches before introducing them to potential investors. Building a company takes time and access to capital, Smith said, and many founders he works with don’t have those luxuries, despite their “huge potential.”

“The expectation is that Black and Brown founders need to have a market-ready product from Day One,” he said. “It’s almost like a double standard.”

Medicaid Investment Opportunities

CHCF Health Equity Fellow Janet Boachie experienced those barriers personally before she started working with the Innovation Fund. She was an entrepreneur who was developing a voice and mobile platform to help patients view their health care options. Now Boachie works with fund-supported accelerators and founders and is helping to develop a curriculum for founders and investors that focuses on identifying business opportunities for innovation in the Medicaid sphere.

“Being a female health tech founder of color is hard already,” Boachie said. “It’s hard to make connections yourself. Sometimes, the door is already closed before you even try to open it. I’m excited about this accelerator work because its key benefit is relationship-building, which is critical to the success of a startup. The resources and mentorship that I had going through an accelerator were good, but in hindsight it really could have been better. I want today’s founders to have more access to the relationships, resources, and opportunities they need to succeed, especially in health care.”

Interest is growing in the importance of diversifying health care start-ups.

Pictured: Janet Boachie and Ella Schwartz of the CHCF Innovation Fund
CHCF Health Equity Fellow Janet Boachie and CHCF Senior Program Investment Officer Ella Schwartz. Photo: Vincent James

“California’s initiatives and the increased focus on health tech are ushering in more resources and opportunities for entrepreneurs,” said Boachie. “We need diverse founders to access them. That’s what our work aims to do.”

Despite research showing that non-White, non-male entrepreneurs generate strong financial returns when given access to capital, venture capital firms typically invest in White male founders, many of whom are graduates of elite universities.

Black founder-led companies received only about 1.2% of US venture capital investment in the first half of 2022, according to Crunchbase. In 2021, Latino/x founders received about 2% of such funding.

In 2021, about 2% of US venture capital went to female-only led startups, according to Pitchbook.

Supporting an Ecosystem

“Often people think about communities of color or low-income communities as having a deficit. All these communities ꟷ the Latinx community, the Black community, women entrepreneurs ꟷ have distinct assets, including lived experiences,” said Sandra R. Hernández, MD, president and CEO of the California Health Care Foundation.

“Most entrepreneurs are motivated by personal experiences,” Hernández said. “What we’re trying to do is find these entrepreneurs and support and partner with them,  because they are much more likely to bring successful solutions to the challenges faced by people trying to navigate our complicated health care system.”

The fund’s goal is to support an ecosystem that offers subject experts, mentors of color, and technology supports to help these entrepreneurs succeed, said Ella Schwartz, a senior program investment officer for the fund.

“This work is extremely important in supporting health equity,” she said. “There are few programs that support tech-enabled health care services and entrepreneurs of color. CHCF is working to change that by developing the capacity of organizations to educate, advise, and convene diverse innovators working to address health access and quality of care issues.”

In addition to financial support for the accelerators, the fund makes available experts from CHCF and other organizations to help entrepreneurs navigate the intricacies of Medi-Cal and health payer bureaucracies.

At a recent virtual meeting of Village Capital’s 2022 cohort of founders, Schwartz led a workshop on health outcomes reporting that featured managers from and potential customers of a private health insurer, a community clinic network, and a county-run Medi-Cal managed care plan.

The entrepreneurs got a crash course in health quality data, why health insurers and providers need to collect them, and how data can fit into their business plans. They learned about patient privacy rules governing health data collection in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and how they might need to bring their products and services into compliance with the law. If a potential customer tossed around jargon like “HEDIS scores” (also known as health care effectiveness data and information sets), the founders would know that the customer was referring to the data on quality of care and patient satisfaction that managed care plans are required to collect by federal regulation.

Access to Experts

After previously completing other accelerator programs, Moyo said he sought out Plug In South LA because of its relationship with CHCF. Access to the foundation’s subject matter experts was key, Moyo said.

“They honestly listen to what you’re trying to do, respond to questions, and offer encouragement or constructive criticism,” Moyo said. “They forced us to hone our communication – for example, in explaining how we impact the bottom line for payers.”

CHCF experts helped Moyo understand that “the decisionmaker is a human being; they’re actually moved by the opportunity to help members of the community,” he said. “It’s not just about the dollars and cents. Can we actually impact people’s health and wellness? That insight was really interesting to us, and we were really happy to hear it. Because that’s what we care about.”

At Boston-based Visible Hands, a selective 14-week accelerator program helps support what its president Mike Omenazu calls “overlooked founders,” including health tech entrepreneurs.

Visible Hands helps “manufacture privilege” for founders who lack it because of their socioeconomic background, Omenazu said. Meetings and coaching are done online to make the accelerator more accessible to a wider variety of founders instead of only those who can move to Silicon Valley or another tech center for a few months.

“The huge divide in entrepreneurship comes down to those core elements of privilege, whether it’s the privilege of the ability to raise a friends-and-family round [of financing], wealth disparities, or social capital,” said Omenazu.

He recalled how the founders of a tech company he once worked for used their Ivy League connections to help the company succeed. “We try to manufacture or replicate that social and financial capital for founders who don’t have access.”

CalAIM Creates Market Opportunities

These days, California’s massive Medi-Cal transformation, known as CalAIM, is a hot topic for accelerators and health tech founders. CalAIM offers lucrative market opportunities for some health tech founders while requiring others to modify their business models to participate. State and federal spending on Medi-Cal totaled about $124 billion in 2021-2022. By rough comparison, nationwide Medicaid spending in 2020 topped $671.2 billion.

Medi-Cal health plans will be required to offer new benefits to enrollees and to report new quality and accountability data. Participants in the Visible Hands and other accelerator cohorts are examining how their varied businesses will conform to CalAIM’s goals and requirements.

“It’s amazing how much CalAIM is on everyone’s mind,” said Moyo. “It’s a huge behavioral shift.”

He notes that new initiatives starting alongside CalAIM’s rollout, such as the California Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, may provide new opportunities for his company’s health screening product. A key to success is understanding how to comply with complicated Medicaid requirements, he said.

“We’ve learned a lot about the health care ecosystem,” Moyo said. “We know there’s interest to solve these problems.”

Related Tags:

 CalAIMCHCF Goal: Laying the FoundationCHCF Innovation FundHealth EquityInvesting in InnovationMedicaidState Health Policy

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Plug In South LA Announces Third Tech Accelerator Program To Benefit Black And Latinx Communities

Plug In South LA has announced its third tech accelerator program focused on Black and Latinx communities.

In a press release announcement, it was revealed that they are looking for startup founders focused on healthcare tech, climate and sustainability, digital media, and educational technology. The benefits of the tech accelerator will include potential grants of up to $40,000 as well as possible seed investments and pilot partnerships. Mentors in the program will include leaders and executives from the California Health Care Foundation, Courtside Ventures, RareBreed Ventures, and Zeal Capital Partners, among others.

“We are keen to help Founders secure capital and investment plus help them leverage the LA start ecosystem to develop traction and momentum around their company,” notes Derek Smith, founder of Plug In South LA, in the press release announcement.

In addition to the new tech accelerator, Plug In South LA is known for Urban Tech Connect, a prominent annual business conference that equips tech company founders from African American, Latinx, and underrepresented communities in Los Angeles and beyond with a platform to plug in to the greater technology ecosystem and to network with other founders, VCs, angel investors, tech influencers, and industry leaders.

Plug In South LA cultivates a space for conversations and networking focused on creating a community and hub for innovation in South LA. From conferences, tech demos, workshops, and intimate salons, Plug In offers members modern and contemporary programming aimed at entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, and creativity.

For more information about the tech accelerator, check out the Plug In LA website.

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Accelerator

Plug In South LA Announces Third Tech Accelerator Program To Benefit Black And Latinx Communities

Plug In South LA Announces Third Tech Accelerator Program To Benefit Black And Latinx Communities

Plug In South LA Announces Third Tech Accelerator Program To Benefit Black And Latinx Communities
Photo Credit: Marko Geber

Plug In South LA has announced its third tech accelerator program focused on Black and Latinx communities.

In a press release announcement, it was revealed that they are looking for startup founders focused on healthcare tech, climate and sustainability, digital media, and educational technology. The benefits of the tech accelerator will include potential grants of up to $40,000 as well as possible seed investments and pilot partnerships. Mentors in the program will include leaders and executives from the California Health Care Foundation, Courtside Ventures, RareBreed Ventures, and Zeal Capital Partners, among others.

“We are keen to help Founders secure capital and investment plus help them leverage the LA start ecosystem to develop traction and momentum around their company,” notes Derek Smith, founder of Plug In South LA, in the press release announcement.

In addition to the new tech accelerator, Plug In South LA is known for Urban Tech Connect, a prominent annual business conference that equips tech company founders from African American, Latinx, and underrepresented communities in Los Angeles and beyond with a platform to plug in to the greater technology ecosystem and to network with other founders, VCs, angel investors, tech influencers, and industry leaders.

Plug In South LA cultivates a space for conversations and networking focused on creating a community and hub for innovation in South LA. From conferences, tech demos, workshops, and intimate salons, Plug In offers members modern and contemporary programming aimed at entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, and creativity.

For more information about the tech accelerator, check out the Plug In LA website.