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Brooklyn Nets owners launch program for minority-led startups State News

NEW YORK (AP) — Brooklyn Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai launched the largest business accelerator for early-stage startup minority founders on Monday.

Dubbed BK-XL, the accelerator will invest up to $500,000 in 12 startups led by Black, Indigenous and other minority founders in 2023.

“Capital is one of the biggest obstacles to wealth building, especially for BIPOC entrepreneurs,” Wu Tsai said in an interview with The Associated Press. We thought we could create wealth through the variety of jobs that entrepreneurs create.”

Increasing venture capital investment in startups run by minority founders has become a priority for many amid racism following the police killing of George Floyd. According to Crunchbase, only 2.4% of all US venture capital raised between 2015 and 2020 was allocated to startups with Black or Latinx founders. Funding for black entrepreneurs quadrupled to $1.8 billion in the first half of 2021. However, investment in minority founders dropped sharply this year.

BK-XL is part of Wu Tsai’s plan to change that. Accelerator is another part of her racial justice efforts, along with her husband Tsai Tsai, to improve economic mobility for minorities. The Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center in Brooklyn own her arena, so they decided to also focus their economic mobility donations and investments in the New York City borough to maximize their impact.

“I believe that the combination of grants, loans and investments in this autonomous region will ultimately strengthen our communities and nurture our people,” said Wu Tsai.

Last year, Tsais’s Social Justice Fund launched the “EXCELerate” initiative to provide interest-free loans to black-owned small businesses in Brooklyn in need of recovery from shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wu Tsai said the investment through BK-XL will help new businesses that are ready to expand.

For startups selected for the BK-XL program, the initial $125,000 investment will be split between Wu Tsai’s Social Justice Fund and investment platform Visible Hands in exchange for a 7% stake in the startup.

Daniel Acheampong, General Partner of Visible Hands, said BK-XL offers more than a financial investment. The founders selected for the program will receive free office space and guidance from Visible Hands, Tsai’s investment firm Bluepool His Capital, and other partners to help build a successful business. Receive his 10-week immersion program.

“Being a founder is a lonely journey,” said Acheampong, adding that minority founders are even more difficult because they are so few in number. “‘Hey, I’ve been through your experience. I know the challenges of bias in raising capital.'”

Acheampong said this kind of support, which he calls social capital or inspirational capital, is just as important as investment capital. “The partnership here is something I’m really excited about,” he said.

BK-XL Acheampong said any kind of BIPOC-led startup can apply as long as it’s based in Brooklyn. However, since Tsai co-founded Chinese tech giant Alibaba, businesses in areas where Tsai has experience, such as e-commerce and sports media, will be prioritized.

Speaking to BK-XL, Wu Tsai said she wants to help revitalize the community by spotlighting untapped business talent in Brooklyn. But she also hopes the new accelerator will work nationwide.

“We want to show that investing in black businesses is profitable,” she said. “We want to show that it’s good business.”

Wu Tsai said the profits from his investment in the BK-XL startup will be reinvested in his Brooklyn business. “I think the best proof of our belief in Brooklyn and black businesses is to invest in them and show the world that these are good investments,” she added.

When asked about the current turmoil of the Brooklyn Nets, Nets guard Kyrie Irving suspended for posting links to anti-semitic work On Twitter, Wu Tsai pointed out: previous statement made by the team.

She said BK-XL will soon be followed by a charitable grant program to help other businesses in Brooklyn. Like a growing number of philanthropists such as Melinda French Gates and Lauren Powell Jobs, Wu Tsai plans to combine investments and donations to achieve community goals.

“I think you should play with all the different arrows you have in your backpack,” said Wu Tsai. “There are so many levers. He’s not just one way to influence a community. If you can use different methods to reach different people who need it, that’s a lot more effective.” think.”

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Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission. Brooklyn Nets owners launch program for minority-led startups State News

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