Last week I drove up to Detroit for PowerMoves@Detroit where minority entrepreneurs from around the country were brought together to access capital. I participated last year in PowerMoves.NOLA where I was selected to pitch BOLD Guidance on stage at the ESSENCE Festival to compete for $25,000. The connections with entrepreneurs and investors were so phenomenal in New Orleans last year that I was ecstatic to see they were bringing something to the Midwest! PowerMoves.NOLA main focus is to increase the number of venture-backed minority-founded companies both in New Orleans and around the country. They bring early-stage and high-growth minority entrepreneurs together to gain access to capital, advisors, and support to help them be successful. For all my high-growth, minority entrepreneurs and investors interested in good deals, you want to get involved with PowerMoves!
From Start to Finish: PowerMoves@Detroit brought some amazing speakers together to discuss the art of creating a path to an exit from the start. Every entrepreneur should have her “exit” in mind when starting a company. Just like entrepreneurs have a plan to start their business, they must also have plans to get out of (exit) the business. An exit can take many forms: you may want to run the businesses until retirement, give the business to your children to run, or sell your company for a large sum of money. However, it’s important to know your exit plan in order to develop your starting plan.
Lisa Price, Founder of Carol’s Daughter, said, “When you accept investors’ money, they expect a return on their investment within a few years, so it’s the expectation that you will sell your company.” Robin Richards, Founder of Internships.com and CareerArc, gave great advice that you should find a hole in services that big companies are not currently providing but should be and build a company around that, so they’ll buy you out at some point. Have the end game in mind from the start. Robin Richards has created and sold over five companies and has used this motto for every business he started.
Access to Capital: PowerMoves.NOLA is about access to capital and that’s exactly what they did in Detroit. Organizations gave away $100,000 over three days to early-stage and high-growth companies. But the capital doesn’t stop on the stage with the prize money. There are investors and venture capitalist scattered all throughout the event, both on stage as judges and in the audience. The opportunity to connect with other investors throughout the event is key to any entrepreneur in attendance in getting additional funding for their company. PowerMoves.NOLA gave away over $160,000 last year; however, several companies raised an additional $3 million within 90 days of the event! PowerMoves.NOLA is the place to be for entrepreneurs and investors.
Phenomenal Group of Entrepreneurs: Never again can anyone say there is not a collective group of quality minority-owned, high-growth companies out here because I have witnessed them consistently through PowerMoves.NOLA and PowerMoves@Detroit. Many of these entrepreneurs come from Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and Georgia Tech. They have worked for McKinsey, have their doctorates, and have been White House Fellows. Even more importantly, they have amazing ideas and companies. Beartek Solutions has remote technology that works in any glove to control various electronics. You have skiers and the military leveraging their technology. Maker’s Row is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry and bringing production back to the United States. Susty Party is making party supplies fun and sustainable while also giving jobs to the visually-impaired. Also, many of these entrepreneurs are already making millions in revenue.
The part that I enjoy even more about PowerMoves is the camaraderie that happens between the entrepreneurs that goes well beyond the three-day event. Entrepreneurs have a chance to share knowledge, challenges, and opportunities with each other and support each other through our culturally-specific entrepreneurial journey and that is invaluable. As Paul Brunson, world’s most successful matchmaker/life coach and founder of Weekend Startup School, said about PowerMoves@Detroit, “Never has there been a better time in the history of the world to be an entrepreneur.”
Deal Flow for Investors: Carla Harris, Vice Chairman of Global Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley, said it best, “Institutional [and] individual investors should seek out PowerMoves.NOLA to get access to these entrepreneurs.” The companies that are represented at the PowerMoves events are top notch. They have great products, scalable businesses, and have significant customer and/or revenue traction. Investors should be paying PowerMoves.NOLA attention to find really good deals that happen to have minority and women founders.
PowerMoves@Detroit was a powerful event and PowerMoves.NOLA is gearing up for their next event in New Orleans during the ESSENCE Festival. They are currently accepting nominations for early-stage companies to select founders that will have an opportunity to pitch for funding during the Fourth of July weekend. As mentioned, I went last year and it was a phenomenal experience and I will be in attendance again this year. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have about PowerMoves.NOLA or the application process, as I strongly support this organization’s mission and work and I want to see more entrepreneurs raise significant funding like I did.