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Black Tech Founders Push Industry Forward Despite Obstacles

Los Angeles – February 22, 2024

Benjamen Janey founded his company, Spooler, in 2016. The startup’s marquis product, the Tymelss platform, allows designers to promote their cause-related designs.

Janey has already raised $275,000 for Spooler, though he has a goal of raising $1 million in his current fundraising round. Despite having some success in his fundraising efforts and minting an ongoing relationship with the Texas-based VC Capital Factory, Janey said he has experienced hurdles that a white founder would not.

Check out the full article here.

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Plug In Ventures Featured in Black Enterprise

Los Angeles- February 9, 2024

Plug In Ventures has been featured in Black Enterprise this week for being awarded a $1 million grant from CalOBSA to boost early-stage Black and Brown startups in Southern California with the funding to be dispersed over four years.

The funding aims to enhance the accelerator program, providing resources, mentorship, and education. Our CEO, Derek Smith, emphasizes preparing Black entrepreneurs for venture capital opportunities. Plug In Ventures plans to increase companies securing investment by 10%-20% by 2025, while expanding into new sectors and geographies nationwide.

The firm will also shift to an equity-based model, offering 5%-7% ownership, and facilitate follow-on investments directly and through their investor community.

Check out the full article here.

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Plug In Ventures Seeking Intern to Support Startup Accelerator

Plug In Ventures Seeking Intern to Support Startup Accelerator

LOS ANGELES, Feb 7, 2024 — Plug In Ventures is preparing to begin their 5th accelerator cohort and is seeking an intern to provide day-to-day operational support of the 4-month program.

Calling all undergraduate and graduate students! Join the Plug In Ventures team this Spring to gain experience working directly with early-stage startups founded by Black and Brown entrepreneurs. Supporting our Program Manager, you will have the opportunity to engage behind the scenes in programmatic planning and execution for Plug In Ventures 5th Accelerator cohort.

This remote opportunity is perfect for someone excited about and dedicated to pursuing a more equitable and inclusive venture capital space. We expect the person in this position to allocate 15-20 hours per week in order to meet the responsibilities and goals outlined in the job description.

Check out the job description for more information. Interested applicants can send their resume and a cover letter via email to Mariessa Edmonson, Program Manager at Plug In Ventures, at mariessa@pluginventures.co. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Photo by Good Faces on Unsplash

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Plug In Ventures Welcomes Mariessa Edmonson to Spearhead Program Development

📢 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Plug In Ventures Welcomes Mariessa Edmonson to Spearhead Program Development

LOS ANGELES, Jan 24, 2024 — Plug In Ventures, a leading force in venture capital acceleration, proudly announces the appointment of Mariessa Edmonson as the newest member of its dynamic team, taking on a pivotal role in program development.

We are thrilled to welcome Mariessa Edmonson to our team at Plug In Ventures! Hailing from the Long Beach Accelerator, Mariessa’s dedication to empowering Black and Brown Entrepreneurs is truly inspiring. With her dynamic energy, creativity, and grace, Mariessa brings an invaluable spark to our mission.

Founders & VCs – Seize the opportunity to connect with her in the upcoming weeks to learn more about her role and share your insights on Plug In’s future direction! Mariessa will be on the ground supporting Founders in and around South Los Angeles and SoCal at large.

“I am honored to join the Plug In Ventures Team. Personally and professionally, I fully align with the mission of supporting and empowering Black and Brown founders. I look forward to leveraging my background and skills to amplify Plug In Ventures’ impact on the broader tech ecosystem in California and across the US,” says Mariessa Edmonson.

“It’s been a long time coming, but the timing of Mariessa joining the Plug In team is divine. We’re eager to embrace her passion as we journey towards our North Star, bolstering capital, support, community, and investment in talented Founders in and around overlooked communities. She will be a great resource to Founders, partners, investors, and LA ecosystem stakeholders ” says Derek Smith, Founder of Plug In Ventures.

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Fearless and Bold Graphic Designer Wanted!

About Plug In Ventures 

Plug In Ventures  is the centerpoint for diversity within the tech ecosystem. We are a diverse membership-based networking community designed to empower the next generations of Black and Brown early to mid-stage founders through workshops, leadership programs, and mentoring — helping to access and raise capital, grow, and scale to success. Plug In’s top programs are our Plug In Tech Accelerator Program, Power Huddles mentoring sessions, and our general programs focused on support emerging companies.

About the Graphic Designer Role:

We are seeking a creative and detail-oriented Graphic Designer to join our team and contribute to the visual representation of our brand and programs. This role is open for remote work if you do not live in the LA area.

Job Type: Contract/Freelance
Schedule: 15-20 hours per week
Work Location: LA / NYC / ATL  Remote
Compensation: DOE

Responsibilities:

  • Visual Branding:
      • Develop and maintain visual elements that align with the Plug In Ventures brand across various platforms.
  • Marketing Collateral:
      • Design marketing materials, including brochures, presentations, social media graphics, and event collateral.
  • Web Design:
      • Collaborate on website design and ensure a visually appealing and user-friendly online presence.
  • Event Graphics:
      • Create visually engaging graphics for events, workshops, and conferences.
  • Content Creation:
      • Generate visual content for digital and print media, ensuring consistency with brand guidelines.
  • Collaboration:
      • Work closely with the marketing team, program managers, and business partners to understand design requirements and objectives.
  • Feedback and Revisions:
    • Incorporate feedback and revisions into design work, ensuring the final product meets expectations.

About You:

  • You are comfortable, experienced in, and motivated by working with high-expectations stakeholders who move at pace where meeting goals is a question of “how” and not “if” 
  • You are self-sufficient, able to draft concepts and drive results with minimal directions 
  • You are comfortable providing input and feedback to leadership even when difficult 
  • You have strong relationship-building and networking skills
  • You are a proactive, effective communicator with impeccable listening, speaking, writing and presenting skills 
  • You have a proactive mindset with regard to spotting opportunities and acting quickly upon them 
  • You thrive under pressure and feed off the buzz of chasing down targets and deadlines, and you are not afraid to put yourself out there and make things happen 
  • You have a highly methodical and organized approach to your work and superb time management skills 
  • You are adaptable and agile

Your Skills as a Web Designer:

  • Adobe Illustrator Proficiency:
    • Mastery of Adobe Illustrator for creating precise and visually appealing graphic elements.
  • Canva Expertise:
    • Advanced skills in Canva for designing engaging and shareable visuals for digital platforms.
  • Asana Proficiency:
    • Utilize Asana to effectively manage and organize web design projects, ensuring seamless collaboration.
  • Video Graphics Mastery:
    • Proficient in creating compelling video graphics to enhance user engagement and storytelling.
  • Technical Acumen:
    • Comfortably navigate various technical tools and systems essential for efficient web design workflows.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commitment:
    • Actively incorporate principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion into the design process and outcomes.
  • Self-Starter with Project Management Skills:
    • Take initiative, prioritize projects, and manage deadlines independently as a self-starter.
  • Collaboration Skills:
    • Proven ability to collaborate effectively with internal and external stakeholders, ensuring a cohesive design approach.
  • Attention to Detail in Graphic Design:
    • Demonstrate meticulous attention to detail, including precise proofreading and thorough project follow-through.
  • Open-Mindedness and Positive Work Environment:
    • Approach design challenges with an open mind, contributing to a positive and enjoyable work environment for yourself and the team.

How to Apply:

Send a resume and cover letter to info@pluginventures.co. Include availability, 2-3 references, and potential start date. 

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

🌟

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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Join the Next Wave of Innovation – Apply for Plug In Ventures’ 5th Accelerator Cohort! Applications are now officially open!

Are you an early-stage Black or Latinx Founder with a bold vision to reshape the realms of Digital Health, Climate and Sustainability, Digital Media or FinTech?

At Plug In, we deeply value the passion, dedication and immense potential that underrepresented entrepreneurs like you bring to the tech ecosystem. We are thrilled to announce that applications for our 2024 Plug In Tech Accelerator Program are now open.

We understand that early-stage Founders are those who have taken the crucial initial steps to transform their vision into reality. This means you have a product in place, a clear understanding of your target audience, and perhaps some revenue flowing in. However, we also embrace those who are still refining these pivotal elements, acknowledging that every startup’s journey unfolds uniquely and at its own pace.

Our Tech Accelerator Program is meticulously crafted to equip you with the resources, mentorship, and invaluable network necessary to propel your business to new heights. By participating, you will have the opportunity to:

  1. Gain profound insights from seasoned mentors and industry experts.
  2. Access funding opportunities and forge connections with potential investors.
  3. Collaborate with like-minded Founders and cultivate potent partnerships.
  4. Hone your product and business model for rapid and sustainable growth.

To embark on this transformative journey with us, click here to apply for the Plug In Tech Accelerator Program.

We encourage you to extend this opportunity to any exceptionally talented Founders in your network who are in the process of crafting something extraordinary. We firmly believe in the power of community and collective progress, and your recommendation may be the catalyst they need on their entrepreneurial path.

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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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Plug In Announces 2023 Tech Accelerator Cohort 4​

Plug In Announces 2023 Tech Accelerator Cohort 4

Los Angeles, CA — May 4, 2023 Plug In South LA is thrilled to announce the participants for their fourth cohort accelerator program. Over 80 applications were submitted, reflecting HealthTech, Digital Media, Climate and Sustainability, and the EdTech sectors. 

After narrowing down the submissions and conducting two rounds of interviews, the promising 12 were selected. This cohort is a dynamic collection of startups from across the country, representing a rich pool of emerging tech businesses and a diversity of  backgrounds and lived experiences.

“We are excited to welcome our new cohort of exceptional talents who are poised to make a difference in their communities and beyond,” said Derek Smith, Founder of Plug In South LA. “We believe that their diverse backgrounds and innovative ideas will propel our organization and society forward, and we are committed to providing them with the support and guidance they need to succeed.”

The companies that will be a part of Cohort 4 are:

  1. At Their Side 
    At Their Side, a HIPAA compliant healthcare status platform, enables healthcare providers to communicate with families easily and efficiently. At Their Side helps healthcare staff focus on patient care and provides families with secure and timely patient update information, improving communication and staff efficiency.
  2. TruO Powered by IonCell 
    TruO Kind Care is a personalized health hub that provides patients with access to healthcare and social care resources, as well as their complete health history and health data collected from wearables and daily living practices. Their mission is to democratize healthcare by empowering patients with agency over their health and providing them with the necessary tools and resources to make informed decisions.
  3. MyVoluntier 
    MyVoluntier, a virtual civic engagement hub designed to inspire social connection around community involvement. MyVoluntier is a centralized tool for managing community initiatives, events, resources, fundraising, and volunteers, driving big collective impact and promoting leaders in community change agency. Their value proposition is “LinkedIn for civic engagement.”
  4. Nutrible
    Nutrible, a technology platform that provides medically-tailored meals, groceries, and access to government programs to vulnerable patients and communities. Their vision is that everyone has access to the food and education they need to be healthy, no matter where they live.
  5. Peadbo
    Peadbo (short for Personal Advisory Board) is a cloud-based platform that allows users to build and manage teams dedicated to their personal or professional growth and create recurring newsletters for their broader network of supporters and advisors.
  6. Postal Petals 
    Postal Petals®, an immersive floral and wellness startup that disrupts the floral industry by using fresh cut flowers and do-it-yourself flower arranging to promote creative expression as a form of mindfulness and self-care. They partner with domestic flower farms to ship bundles of fresh cut flowers nationwide, allowing customers to design their arrangements and participate in both virtual and in-person floral design workshops.
  7. Prosperety
    Prosperety Technologies Inc., a platform that helps everyday people and small businesses achieve financial freedom by using digital advertising fees collected from B2C businesses to pay off consumer debt. Their AI-enabled customer engagement and financial improvement platform is dedicated to providing a solid financial foundation and improving their clients’ finances.
  8. Subler
    Subler is a facility management platform that helps schools and organizers rent space. Subler streamlines the process of renting facilities, increases revenue, and utilization of school campuses.
  9. SwayBrand
    SwayBrand, a marketplace that connects brands with creators for on-location user-generated content. They aim to be the new studio for creators and help brands reach new audiences through authentic, personalized content.
  10. The Crease Beast 
    The Crease Beast, a sneaker accessory company that provides sneaker enthusiasts with an effective product for crease protection. Their ergonomic footwear accessory sleeve is lightweight, breathable, and includes a custom-shaped memory foam pad to prevent creasing caused by natural foot mechanics.
  11. Upward
    Upward is a finance company that helps gig workers save money by maximizing deductions, 1099 tracking, and tax estimates. Their platform boosts savings and ensures gig workers pay less in taxes and keep more of their earnings.
  12. Wingwoman
    Wingwomen is a tech-enabled reproductive health company that provides access to preconception healthcare, fertility education, and postnatal health coaching to women with preexisting conditions.

Over the next 12-weeks, Plug In South LA will work with these remarkable founders to strengthen their business models so that they can become the most competitive disruptors of services and products in their category. Cohort 4 Founders are primed to deeply stimulate opportunities in the Black, Brown & Latinx communities, and we couldn’t be prouder to introduce them to the world! 

Adonica Shaw, Founder & CEO of Wingwomen, says “Wingwomen’s inclusion in the Plug In Accelerator has supercharged our growth and plugged us into the Los Angeles startup ecosystem. We’ve received a lot of strategic guidance that has not only put us back on track to meet our Q3 goals, but also be better positioned to approach investors with a much stronger business.”

About Plug In South LA
Plug In South LA is a dynamic community and innovation hub that brings together entrepreneurs, founders, VCs, innovators, and emerging talent for engaging conversations and networking opportunities. Our mission is to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders by offering modern and contemporary programming focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, and creativity. Our wide range of programs includes conferences, tech demos, workshops, and intimate salons that provide our members with access to valuable resources, knowledge, and expertise. 

One of our most successful programs is the Power Huddles, where under-represented founders at any stage can present their business ideas, challenges, and opportunities to a network of mentors, advisors, industry experts, investors, and other professionals. We also offer a tech accelerator program that meets regularly with a small cohort of founders to help them grow and scale their businesses. 

At Plug In South LA, we are committed to creating a community that encourages collaboration, inclusivity, and diversity. We believe that by bringing together talented individuals from diverse backgrounds, we can foster a culture of innovation and creativity that benefits everyone.

For questions and/or to engage in Plug In’s other programming, visit Plug In South LA’s website or contact Plug In’s PR team at info@pluginsouthla.com.

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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.”

# # #

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.