NOW, is the defining moment.
There have only been a few times in American history where black communities are brought to the forefront and represent a point of inflection before a new era of change. With weekly protests serving as a backdrop, we are witnessing an unprecedented amount of attention and speculation in the economics of black business.
Someone who has realized this, is the Vinetta Project’s Dawn Myers. Through the Vinetta Project, Dawn is encouraging black woman founders to come forth and conquer. Vinetta wants black woman founders to pitch their best and brightest ideas in front of Washington, DC’s elite venture capitalists. The Vinetta Project is hosting its second Showcase and Pitch Competition that gives woman entrepreneurs access to venture capitalists. The pitch competition consists of two semifinal competitions where entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas to a venture panel. After the venture panel selects the top two entrepreneurs from each semifinal, the four semifinalists will compete for $20,000 in non-equity drawing capital.
I had a chance to speak with Dawn Myers about this competition and its unmatched opportunity for seasoned and new entrepreneurs alike. The competition doesn’t discriminate based upon business size, industry, or age, and even just getting your idea into the VC pipeline gives business owners exposure. Dawn and Vinetta’s mission is simple; it is to give black women founders the opportunity to get in front of venture capitalists that can help them gain traction and spur growth. Again, no equity is taken.
Dawn is a lawyer by training and while she was practicing law for many years, she always had a business on the side. She started in real estate, and eventually quit her job. After quitting, she didn’t quite know where to start out on her entrepreneurial journey and realized the importance of community for entrepreneurs that need assistance. She started volunteering for organizations including Black Girl Ventures, and found her way at Vinetta.
There, her focus was on making Vinetta a more warm and welcoming environment for people of color and black women in particular. Through out her journey, she’s seen the disparities between people of color and their white counter parts in the venture community. Myers feels empowered by the Black Lives Matter movement, and feels that the movement has given her license to push for more black woman founders to get the access they need. Moments like this don’t last forever, and this is the moment to ride this wave and bring about economic change says Myers, “I’m an entrepreneur as well as an ecosystem architect, because I come to this work after having been a founder I understand the opportunities and obstacles and right now we have a very unique opportunity to capitalize on.”
Vinetta’s previous capital winners include Surgicare, a company that makes an add-on device that protects patient’s jaws and teeth from damage during intubation, and Stephanie Cummings’ company, Please Assist Me. Please Assist Me is a home-help aid service that focuses on elderly care.
Vinetta has assembled investors from a who’s who of Washington, DC firms including The Motley Fool, CIT, the Marathon Fund, the Maryland Venture Fund, and others. From these firms, Vinetta’s elite panel of 25 VCs are looking for companies that can grow, can scale, and can deliver an economic impact.
NOW, is the time to apply. The Showcase and Pitch competition is coming to DC on July 28th, which means there’s little time to apply. In a time when the country is taking a hard look at how it treats its most hardworking citizens, this presents a unique opportunity. “Vinetta presents founders with a really unique opportunity to become deeply entrenched in this ecosystem, our venture committee knows where all the bones and checks are buried in DC. Just by submitting an application and being a part of community is a huge stepping stone for our founders, ” Dawn Myers told me. NOW is the time to take that first step.