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The Black Venture Summit Prize

Tsai CITY, CTNext, and Yale School of Management’s Black Business Alliance (BBA) have joined forces to establish the first Yale Black Venture Summit Prize at Startup Yale as an effort to increase venture funding for Black founders. Early-stage companies whose founders are based in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or New York, identify as Black, or whose ventures seek to address a pressing need in Black communities will compete to win a $20,000 non-dilutive cash prize.

“Supporting entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and disciplines is at the core of our work. We’re thrilled to collaborate in this way, to provide funding to those who are often underfunded and undersupported,” shared Zoe Hunter, Managing Director at Tsai CITY.

By the application deadline, 53 ventures had applied, and on March 31st, during the inaugural Black Venture Summit, in partnership with Startup Yale, five founders will pitch their ideas to judges from leading Black venture capital (VC) firms, including Harlem Capital, Serena Ventures, Marcy Ventures, A16z TXO, Slauson, MaC Venture Cap, Bessemer, and Collide Capital, for that first place prize.

The Black Venture Summit, a program promoting the funding of Black founders and Black VC fund managers, spearheaded by BBA’s co-presidents Julian Love and Mea-Lynn Wong, was created to “…leverage the Yale University platform and bring together founders, venture capitalists, and tech industry leaders to unpack the funding gap and to develop actionable solutions,” said Julain Love.

“Through the launch of the inaugural summit, we’re excited to center Black entrepreneurship at Yale and are hopeful that it will drive meaningful impact for years to come,” said Mea-Lynn Wong, co-president of BBA.

Startup Yale is Yale’s largest entrepreneurship awards program featuring presentations from innovative entrepreneurs with world-changing ideas competing for over $175,000 in prizes. For the first time, the Black Venture Summit Prize will become one of eight prizes awarded to new ventures.

“While Connecticut’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to grow and thrive, Black founders remain woefully underrepresented, taking in less than 2% of all venture capital funding,” said Onyeka Obiocha, Executive Director of CTNext. “Through the Black Venture Summit, CTNext and Tsai CITY are taking a significant step in increasing funding to Black founders with a focus on businesses working to solve problems and make positive contributions to minority communities across the state.”

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