How Plug In South LA Pivoted to Support Founders in 2020

The past year threw extreme challenges our way, but Plug In South LA rose to the occasion. Our team reimagined programs, pivoted to virtual events, and developed new services to support startup founders from underrepresented neighborhoods.

Let’s revisit the highlights:

Power Huddles

Our successful Lunch & Learn series returned, connecting early-stage startup founders with a growing ecosystem of entrepreneurs, business professionals, and VCs in South LA. During the pandemic we went virtual.

In the series, new founders open up about the hurdles they face. During the workshop session, they showcase their ideas and receive immediate feedback from experts in the field. Many thanks to our talented roster of participating mentors.

On January 20, we are excited to relaunch the series as monthly Power Huddles, kicking things off with the CEO of DASH Systems Joel Ifill. Get your free ticket here for this online event. Founders interested in presenting can apply here. To stay updated about future Power Huddles, check out our newsletter.

Accelerator Program

In 2019–2020, Plug In South LA hosted our beta Accelerator Program to cultivate next-generation entrepreneurs who had already launched and were in the process of raising funds. We welcomed the first cohort, representing a wide range of industries: Hyve founder Jibril Jackson, Esqapes Immersive Relaxation founder Micah Jackson, Spooler, Inc. founder Benjamen Janey, Gro Lens founder Ron Johnson, and Me Tyme Network founder Remy Meraz.

These pioneering entrepreneurs graduated over the summer with a virtual showcase. They formed new partnerships with companies like FFL Brands and Sesame Street, made key organizational hires, saw revenue increases and higher online conversion rates, received investment from VCs, and collaborated on new projects.

We’re starting the new year with the launch of the second cohort, welcoming 10 new founders along with 20 mentors and advisors. Stay tuned for our founder showcase event in March.

Urban Tech Connect

Urban Tech Connect was originally set to take place at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in May, but then the pandemic struck. We regrouped to host virtual office hours and a community gathering to keep momentum going despite the disruptions. The live virtual conference in September on the Hopin platform was hosted by Lauren Maillian and Bonin Bough, who brought energy and powerful insights that kept more than 350 attendees engaged throughout all three days.

Attendees are still buzzing about keynotes by Ying co-founder and CEO Karla Ballard Williams, Squad founder and CEO Isa Watson, and Mayvenn co-founder and CEO Diishan Imira. If you missed any of it, you can still get access to the replays.

A post-conference survey revealed the event’s success: More than 85% had never attended UTC before, but 100% of the 2020 participants said they would return again. Mark your calendars because we’re gearing up for Urban Tech Connect May 18–20, 2021, hosted virtually.

Looking Ahead to 2021

If there’s anything the tragic events of this past year taught us, it’s the importance of uniting in support of our communities. We have to look out for each other and continue moving forward, together.

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