City Startup Labs commits to developing young black men (YBM) into entrepreneurs, and will do so by conducting academies where accelerated instruction and directed support are provided. CSL recently completed a 15-week pilot, in Charlotte, NC, which will serve as the template for how the program can be replicated as part of a multi-market strategy. The program includes four progressive modules that the students sequence through. These include a session that helps to disrupt old thinking and conditioning; class work that centers around team-building, understanding the entrepreneurial mindset, and tackling business startup and launch fundaments; preparing an actionable business plan; and go to market strategy.
Beyond Charlotte, academies will be started in two to three markets within two years. Each academy will conduct two sessions per year per market with 25 students per cohort. The students/entrepreneurs go through a three-step selection process and are culled from a host of local sources and candidates. Out of 25, five are chosen through a competitive process to move on to incubation, which is the last of the four modules. The principle elements of template include curricula, facilitation, coaching/mentoring, and access to capital.
Q1-15: 15-week pilot in 2nd market/continuation of program in Charlotte, NC
Q2-15: 2nd mkt. pilot evaluation/Source 3rd market
Q3-15: continuation of program in 2nd mkt.
Q4-15: continuation of program in 2nd mkt.
Q1-16: 15-week pilot in 3rd market/continuation of program in 2nd mkt.
Q2-16: 3rd mkt. pilot evaluation/Source 4th & 5th markets
Even though young black men (18 to 34), pre-Great Recession, were roughly a third more likely to start businesses, than their white counterparts, for the most part they've been under-represented as an entrepreneurial class. For example, according to the Kauffman Foundation, in 2010 black entrepreneurs accounted for only 9% of new ventures, while Hispanics represented 23% of the total. City Startup Labs sees a vital role that this population can play as entrepreneurs, stimulating economic vitality within inner-city America, especially when that means putting people to work. CSL's commitment is to bring this latent entrepreneurial spirit to bear, developing market-based solutions to address the economic conditions in underserved communities.
As a local stakeholder in the President's My Brother's Keeper Initiative, City Startup Labs, would like to identify funders who have made a commitment to this effort, and see the value of educating young black men and entrepreneurial change-agents. Learning about how to best grow organizational capacity, from an extended pilot program, will be particularly helpful, as CSL looks to establish a Center of Excellence and become a beacon for attracting talent from elsewhere to Charlotte.