Thursday, September 4, 2014

Charlotte small-biz incubators win $50K in national competition

Two Charlotte small-business incubators are among 50 accelerators in the U.S. to receive a $50,000 prize rewarding programs that help develop start-ups and entrepreneurs.

City Startup Labs, a 15-week entrepreneurship school geared toward young African-American men, and RevTech Labs, a three-month program that gives free mentoring, work space and programming to new technology start-ups, will both receive the cash prize from the federal Small Business Administration.

The winners were chosen from a pool of 800 applicants as part of the first Growth Aceelerator Fund competition. Recipients come from 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico according to a SBA news release.

 The competition aimed to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the "entrepreneurial ecosystem," the release states.

Charlotte resident Henry Rock founded City Startup Labs last year, taking cues from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Young Men's Initiative, an effort to close the achievement gap between young black and Latino males and their counterparts.

 Hoping to help black males embrace entrepreneurship, Rock sought help from the Urban League of Central Carolinas, and received a $100,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

A launching pad for startups, the RevTech Labs give hopeful business owners and startups 4,000 square feet of shared work space without charge. The lab offers financing help, programs focusing on growth and connections with local and regional investors.

 Both City Startup Labs and RevTech Labs are based in Packard Place, uptown's startup hub.
As part of accepting the Growth Accelerator funds, City Startup Labs and RevTech Labs will have to report to the SBA several metrics, such as the number of jobs created, money raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained. The SBA will use the information to create a database that evaluates each incubator's impact.