PledgeLA recently created the Fund For South LA Founders, which was in direct response to racial and economic inequities that came to the forefront of the national conversation in 2020. A project of AnnenbergTech, the LA Latino Chamber of Commerce, SLATE-Z, and other community partners, the fund is designed to provide startup capital to Black and Latinx founders based in South Los Angeles. The aim was to back promising founders who have not yet raised a lot of outside capital. We recognized that even a small “friends and family” round can potentially transform an early product idea into a sustainable, growing business.
But in addition to capital, we wanted to equip these founders with guidance and mentorship from some of LA’s most successful startup founders. PledgeLA partnered with Annenberg Foundation and Grid110 to create a 12-week program designed specifically for this group of founders. These founders will learn from their peers through collaborative exercises and hear lectures from experts of various business functions. In the end, these innovative concepts have a sound go-to-market strategy and will be well-positioned to become leaders in their respective categories.
The PledgeLA + Grid110 cohort received over 200 applications and ultimately selected 20 companies to receive $25k each and a spot in the Winter 2021 cohort. We’re excited to announce the recipients:
GTLA Apparel Development Inc.: Founded by Guadalupe Tlatenchi, GTLA Apparel Development Inc is an all-phase apparel manufacturer, capable of taking fashion designs from concept to completion.
SKNMUSE: Founded by Ezinne Adeoye, SKNMUSE is a premium skincare brand that elevates the beauty experience for black women.
Ride FRSH: Founded by Trey Brown and Garrick Mitchell, Ride FRSH is a subscription and retail-based trendy air freshener brand that weaves iconic song lyrics about driving into their designs.
SÜPRMARKT: Founded by Olympia Auset, SÜPRMARKT is a low-cost organic grocery, making it easy and affordable to eat well in South LA’s food deserts.
JUMPWatts Inc.: Founded by Bryan Ovalle and Arun Gunasekaran, JUMPWatts has developed easily-installed remote repositioning & parking compliance technology kits for shared micro-mobility vehicles — remedying the chaos on city streets due to micro-mobility and enabling new city markets.
Guardian Lane: Founded by Kristina Jones, Guardian Lane is the world’s first video-sharing platform for children’s grief counseling with tele-counseling services available for additional support.
On The Go LA: Founded by Gabriel Gamez and Enrique Loyola, On The Go LA is a full-service food truck rental company that offers daily rentals, access to high-traffic stops, and operational support through an easy-to-use online platform.
South Los Angeles Beverage Company: Founded by Craig Bowers and Samuel Chawinga, South Los Angeles Beverage company is a craft beverage incubator, production, and packaging facility.
La Create Space: Founded by Terell Johnson and Marisa Johnson, La Create Space is a creative co-working, production, and meeting space located in the heart of Inglewood, CA.
The Honey Block: Founded by Branché Foston, The Honey Block is an online wellness education platform & community for and by Black, indigenous people, and other people of color.
Snojo: Founded by Nadiyah Ward, Snojo is an on-demand lesson management platform for skiers, snowboarders, and mountain resorts.
Reparations Club LLC: Founded by Jazzi McGilbert, Reparations Club LLC is a retail + community space curated by Blackness, POC, and a few good allies in LA — radicalizing retail through community and creativity.
Tea Botanics: Founded by Denise Pines and Dr. Pei Vuong, creates premium high-performance life-stage specific, medicinal tea-based beverages and supplements that address what the body and brain needs — focusing on men and women’s key concerns associated with aging.
Ownors Technologies Inc: Founded by James Jones Jr., Ownors Technologies Inc is an AI-powered analytics marketplace matching top entertainment industry executives with creatives for 1:1 live sessions and managed micro-advances
Coffee Del Mundo: Founded by Jonathan Kinnard, Coffee Del Mundo is a Black & Afro-Latino owned vertically integrated specialty coffee company based in South Los Angeles.
Everlaunch: Founded by Michelle Heng and Alma Cook, Everlaunch is an interactive web app helping first-time entrepreneurs overcome fundamental challenges when starting their business.
Guided Compass: Founded by Creighton Taylor, Guided Compass is a comprehensive project and work-based technology platform for education providers and workforce development organizations, helping them onboard career-seekers to fulfilling careers.
Fun-Diggity Funnel-Cakes: Founded by Cheyenne Brown and Bernard Nicholson Jr., Fun-Diggity specializes in gourmet Funnel-cakes made affordable and accessible all year round.
Esqapes Immersive: Founded by Micah Jackson, Esqapes allows people to reap the relaxing benefits of a mini-vacation, by utilizing Virtual Reality, automation, and traditional wellness practices.
ComplYant: Founded by Shiloh Johnson, ComplYant is software that helps entrepreneurs manage all of their tax requirements from one dashboard.
As you can see, these founders represent a wide range of interests and industries, but they each have deep ties to their community. As the African proverb goes, “it takes a village…” In our case, the village was the South LA community. This would not have happened without tremendous support from so many organizations and individuals in the area.
Our partners include Acevedo Foundation, Plug In South LA, LA Latino Chamber of Commerce, Slate Z, Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation, Pledgeling, AnnenbergTech, and dozens of other individuals who have been building the community over the last few decades.
But we also need the support of people like you. We set out to raise $500k from friends, allies, and partners. Please consider donating to support these companies.