R/GA Ventures announces its new Coalition Venture Studio to support Black founders – TechCrunch


Design and marketing consultancy R/GA is expanding its Venture Studios program with the launch of a new Coalition Venture Studio focused specifically on supporting Black-led and Black-owned startups.

The initiative is led by R/GA Entrepreneur in Residence Davyeon Ross, a Black entrepreneur who founded sports analytics company ShotTracker. The startup (which is backed by TechCrunch’s parent company Verizon, specifically Verizon Ventures) was part of R/GA’s Dodgers Accelerator, and Ross attributed much of ShotTracker’s success to connections made by the agency.

“From that perspective, I got this firsthand view of the power of R/GA Ventures,” Ross told me.

To participate in the Coalition Venture Studio, startups must be majority Black-owned or have a Black CEO, CTO or board chair. However, Ross said that it won’t be using a traditional application process, and it won’t be limited to a handful of startups.

“Its not going to be cohorts or batches of companies,” he explained. “The thought process is, its an ongoing initiative [ ] A big piece of this is, it’s not an application process, it’s a registration process. Once we work with R/GA to vet the companies, we can start positioning them for projects within the R/GA agency.”

In other words, assuming a company qualifies, they’ll become eligible for three main kinds of support through the Coalition program creative capital (consulting, design, copywriting and other services), relationship capital (introductions to what Ross described as R/GA’s “network of incredible blue chip clients”) and financial capital (which could come from a syndicate led by R/GA Ventures).

This launch comes after last year’s protests over the killing of George Floyd led to a broader conversation about race and representation in startups and venture capital. Ross said he’s encouraged by that conversation but at the same time, only 1% of VC money was deployed with Black entrepreneurs last year, and there’s a risk that the industry could move on without addressing systemic issues.

“As a society, we tend to be very short term,” he said. “We say, ‘Oh my goodness, that happened,’ and then we go about our lives [ ] That’s why I was excited that R/GA reached out to make this commitment. Part of this is about accountability, part of this is about easy options for folks to get involved, part of this is about storytelling. A lot of companies made statements, so this is just providing them with vehicles to be able to help.”

To that end, Coalition has already signed up a number of partners, including several from the startup and VC world like Andreessen Horowitz’s TxO Initiative, Harlem Capital,Collab Capital, Ohub, Mac Venture Capital and Gingerbread Capital. R/GA’s parent company IPG is also a partner, as are the Dodgers and Elysian Park (home to Dodger Stadium).

Eligible startups can register on the Coalition website.



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