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You’ve got a business and you want to grow it. You’re a woman, a person of color, an HBCU grad, LGBTQ+ and/or someone with a disability. Or maybe you’re an established entrepreneur who wants to help mentor these folks. Either way, you need to know about the Bronze Valley Accelerator. We talked to Haley Medved Kendrick, the new director, to find out more. Apply now before the September 11th deadline.
So what exactly is the Bronze Valley Accelerator program?
It’s a free, seven-week accelerator for early-stage companies with local roots, powered by nationally ranked startup accelerator gener8tor. Five teams is the cap for each program, no fees or equity required. The Bronze Valley Accelerator focuses on supporting female entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color.
The goal? It’s twofold:
- To help startups gain early customer traction on their product or idea and establish metrics that make them competitive applicants for full-time accelerators or seed investment.
- To enhance growth of the ecosystem for startups emerging from Birmingham and throughout the Southeast.
“As the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to grow and aims to emerge as a leader in the Southeast, we have the opportunity to outperform other markets by leveraging one of our greatest strengths, our diversity.
We know diverse teams—and specifically companies with diverse founders—outperform their competitors and return more to investors.
The Bronze Valley Accelerator will play a critical role by supporting more underrepresented entrepreneurs, and making our region more economically competitive as a whole.”Haley Medved Kendrick
Why Bronze Valley Accelerator’s new director is excited about her new role
“I’ve spent the last three years at Innovate Birmingham working toward equitable economic prosperity in our tech ecosystem through talent development.
One thing has been very clear to me from that experience—there is no shortage of sharp, innovative, and entrepreneurial people in our local community.
What we need are more opportunities for all people to connect to the tools, support, and investment that allow these entrepreneurial seeds to grow.
Taking this role was a no-brainer as an opportunity for me to continue to work for equity in our growing innovation and tech ecosystem.”Haley Medved Kendrick
Who should apply to the Bronze Valley Accelerator?
When I asked Medved Kendrick about potential applicants who had, say, a hair or cake business and not a tech startup, here’s what she said:
“The focus of Bronze Valley’s accelerator is tech and innovation. Many successful alumni of gener8tor (Bronze Valley’s nationally-ranked accelerator partner) have created products and services in industries not necessarily perceived as ‘tech’ or ‘innovation’ sectors. Whatever your industry, if you’re ready to scale and grow, we’re ready for you.”
The Bronze Valley Accelerator may be for you if:
- You live in Birmingham, the state of Alabama, or the Southeast.
- You belong to a group of underrepresented founders—people of color, women, students of HBCUs and affiliates, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ folks, veterans and/or first-generation college students.
Here are the criteria for businesses:
- Potential for high growth.
- At any stage, from “napkin stage” through post-revenue.
- Innovates in any industry vertical.
The first cohort will be five companies. The program lasts seven weeks, and may run up to three times a year. Alabama Power and the Alabama Department of Commerce are providing support for the Accelerator.
Whether you have a new kind of kitty litter or a tech biz, check out the Bronze Valley Accelerator. Applications for the first cohort are due September 11.
What participants can expect
If you’re in this first cohort, here’s a taste of what you’ll get to experience:
- A high level of individualized attention. This includes coaching and mentorship from the Bronze Valley Accelerator and gener8tor team during weekly one-on-one meetings.
- One-on-one meetings with 25+ mentors including serial entrepreneurs, subject matter experts and investors.
- Opportunity to build relationships within each cohort of five companies, and the Bronze Valley and gener8tor communities and alumni.
- Weekly Lunch & Learn series featuring topics relevant to startups including understanding market size, choosing a revenue model, and how to pitch investors. Lunch & Learn events are free and open to the public.
- Exclusive Pitch Night reception—you’ll have the opportunity to pitch to an audience of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and community members.
- Access to Bronze Valley and gener8tor’s national networks of mentors, potential customers, corporate partners and investors.
- $1M + in deals and perks from vendors like IBM Cloud, Rackspace, Amazon, PayPal, Zendesk and Microsoft.
The program is completely free, thanks to support from Alabama Power and the Alabama Department of Commerce.
Participant commitment for the Accelerator
Virtual meetings will take place between October and November 2020—100% participation is required, except in cases of emergency.
Here’s what the commitment looks like:
- Two one-hour-long team meetings per week
- Two-hour “Mentor Swarm” (see “speed networking,” above) per week
- One hour-long “Lunch + Learn” session per week
During the last week of the program, you’ll need to be flexible and available for full days of investor and accelerator pitches.
Who should apply to be a mentor?
You’ve experienced some entrepreneurial success and are grateful to the mentors who helped back in the day. You’re ready to give back. Also, you don’t have to be based in Birmingham.
If selected, you get to participate in a “speed networking” session for two hours during the program. Want to volunteer? Let Bronze Valley know you’re interested today.
If the Bronze Valley Accelerator is calling your name, get your application in before the September 11th deadline.
Want to be a mentor? Go ahead and let Bronze Valley know you’re interested.
To learn more: Bronze Valley Accelerator Website | Bronze Valley on Facebook | Bronze Valley on Twitter | gener8tor Website | gener8tor on Facebook | gener8tor on Instagram | gener8tor on Twitter