By Nancy Dahlberg
No. 1 - It’s like Shark Tank, but for Twitch!
Lightship Capital, a venture capital firm founded by Candice Matthews Brackeen and Brian Brackeen, is powering a new show called Twitch Pitch, in which entrepreneurs can pitch to investors and get uncensored feedback in real-time. Twitch Pitch is a virtual pitch contest giving startups the opportunity to practice their pitch and win Amazon credits & up to $5K in cash prizes. Lightship will be the first VC firm to appear on Twitch.
"Much has been written about the fact that venture capital is out of reach for many. Both geographically -- investors won't look beyond NYC and San Francisco -- and along the lines of gender, race, LGBTQ, immigrants, and more. Because our firm focuses on those founders, we know we have to think differently about how to support them,” said founder-turned-funder Brian Backeen.
“We are finding big ideas in places like Florida, Ohio, Texas, Michigan, and Oklahoma etc. etc. Twitch Pitch is a way to find great founders, give them some capital, and as importantly, give them a voice with a larger audience. We have already found companies that we are interested in investing in directly, so the project has been a great success yet the first show is not until May 12th at 7 pm,” Brackeen added.
To apply, follow Lightship Capital on Twitch @lightshipcapital then send your 5 minute MP4 voiceover pitch submission to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Twitch Pitch" as the subject line. Find out more here: lightship.capital/twitch-pitch.
Lightship Capital invests in startups led by women and minority founders outside of the major tech hubs. Lightship focuses on early-stage ventures in healthcare, AI, sustainability, e-commerce and consumer goods and services.
2 - Survey says: Funding trouble ahead for women-led founders
In a survey conducted by 500 Startups, two-thirds of female founders said they believe they’ll be disproportionately affected by COVID compared to male peers.
Even in the best of times, female-founded companies receive a third less funding than their male-founded counterparts. Even though four out of 10 business in the U.S. are women-owned, in 2019, just 2.8% of venture capital funding went to female-led teams, Believe it or not, that’s a big increase: funding to female-led startups was up 11% from 2018. The global pandemic and recession threaten to erase the progress and widen the gap.
In its survey, 56% of female founders said they are still fundraising and two-thirds believe they will be disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis, receiving less funding as a result.
The biggest challenges cited by respondents during the crisis were customer acquisition, increasing runway and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. They cited connections with potential investors as the top resource that would help them.
Nearly 7 out of 10 female founders said that they have six months or less of runway, while 4 out of 10 said they anticipate that they will need more time to meet fundraising goals.
“Covid-19 is not only a test of our short-term support for female founders, but also of our ability to continue creating more equitable opportunities in the long-term,” 500 Startups’s survey said.
3 - Vive la Miami! French Tech Miami builds an entry point to the Americas
La French Tech, a program backed by the French Government and local businesses, named Miami a new French Tech City this week, said David Azar, a founding board member of La French Tech Miami and owner of digital marketing firm Outsmart Labs.
Now in nearly 100 cities worldwide, the French Tech Local Communities are nodes in a global network to help French entrepreneurs. Miami is the 6th US city after New York, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles and Austin.
“Miami is now the newest addition to the French Tech Family with a mission to power the movement by helping a growing community of local entrepreneurs develop their businesses in the United States & South America as well as promoting French Tech talent,” Azar said.
“Coming from France to study at the University of Miami in 2006, I have witnessed first-hand the rise of the Miami Tech scene to what it is right now. From attending the first Refresh Miami event to proudly participating in eMerge, I have witnessed the growth and want to keep the momentum going,” he said.
4 - More resources for going global
The Research Park at FAU has launched Global Ventures at FAU for international companies that seek to expand to the U.S.
The initiative, created through a collaboration between the Research Park at FAU, FAU, the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, is targeted at helping businesses with at least $1 million in annual sales and six employees or more with flexible terms on office and lab space and other resources. The first two markets will be Israel and Brazil.
5 - News around the state
BlackCloak, an Orlando-based cybersecurity platform that protects high-net-worth families and C-Suite executives in their personal lives, raised $1.9 million in funding. DataTribe made the investment. In conjunction with the funding, John Funge, Chief Product Officer at DataTribe, will join the company’s board of Directors. The company, led by founder and CEO Chris Pierson, intends to use the funds to strengthen its concierge cybersecurity platform and expand its presence within key sectors where cybercrime losses and intellectual theft continue to be on the rise. BlackCloak provides Concierge Cybersecurity services to high-net-worth individuals, high-profile persons, and corporate executives to mitigate their hacking, financial, and reputational risks.
6 Sign of the times: Bootstrap Bootcamp
Now more than ever founders must prepare to bootstrap their companies. To that end, 500 Miami is running a free online bootcamp on Bootstrapping May 20-21. Apply here: bit.ly/500mia11
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