First published as a Linked In article published by Dr. Silvia Mah on September 4, 2020

The startups are working to solve the world’s largest challenges, from neonatal care to agricultural supply chain to incarceration rates

Proud to be an investor in ALL of these 5 POC-owned startups through the investment vehicles of SPVs lead by Next Wave Impact and the fabulous catalyst leader, Alicia Robb. Initiatives and investments like these are essential to close the gap in the investment world for People of Color, women & women of color. When we collaborate, syndicate & invest in POC-lead startups, we will start to see a new impact-driven world emerge.

Founders of color deserve equal access to capital and an equitous opportunity to receive funidng from investors who champion them.

This is the press release that was sent out by Next Wave Impact with the PR leadership of April Harter Enriquez, founder & CEO of WordPopPR.

Boulder, Colo. (Aug. 27, 2020) – Five finalists from Next Wave Impact’s inaugural Founders of Color Showcase each received investments through Next Wave Network’s syndicate of investors, which includes Queen City Angels, Pipeline Angels, Next Wave Impact, Social Venture Circle and Kachuwa Impact Fund. Food industry data service Agtools, healthtech company Neopenda, incarceration connection tech platform company Flikshop, IOT building software company BlocPower, and EdTech software company LiftEd were awarded a combined total of $825,000 from investors structured as five special purpose vehicles (SPVs), which aggregate smaller investors into combined, larger investments.

The five investments served to mobilize more capital to underserved entrepreneurs who receive a tiny fraction of angel and venture capital investments. “By mobilizing more women and people of color as investors, we are working to create a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem,” said Dr. Alicia Robb, founder of Next Wave Impact Fund and lead of the Founders of Color Showcase. “The goal of the Showcase was to highlight a pipeline of scalable companies being led by founders of color and move the needle on the amount of capital going to these underserved entrepreneurs. We are pleased to have mobilized almost a million dollars from more than forty angel investors.”

Next Wave Impact mobilized almost $1M from more than 40 angel investors into 5 POC-founded startups.

“Funding founders of color is what will level the playing field for great companies solving the world’s largest challenges, from neonatal care to agricultural supply chain to incarceration rates,” said Dr. Silvia Mah, founder of Stella Labs, a female-focused business accelerator, and Next Wave Impact Investment Committee member. “More nimble financial vehicles, like SPVs, coupled with quality, collaborative due diligence and advocacy for underrepresented founders allows for investors to de-risk their investments to make a larger impact.”

These are the five startups that were part of 5 SPVs intended to activate more diverse capital into diverse founders.

  1. Agtools, founded by Martha Montoya, is a California financial company that provides algorithm data services to farmers and corporate buyers to offset volatility in the marketplace and minimize food loss.
  2. Neopenda, co-founded by Sona Shah, is a healthtech startup bringing sustainable, high-quality care such as neonatal monitors to resource-constrained health facilities where patient loads are high and healthcare workers are strained.
  3. Flikshop, founder/CEO Marcus Bullock, used his personal experience of incarceration to establish a method for connecting prisoners to loved ones through digital photo postcards.
  4. BlocPower, founded by Donnel Baird, is an energy technology startup based in Brooklyn, NY which provides heating and cooling systems to buildings in American cities. Software is used for analysis, leasing, project management and monitoring of urban clean energy projects.
  5. LiftEd, founded by Andrew Hill, provides tools to interdisciplinary school teams for special needs students from pre-K through 12th grade, facilitating more effective instructional planning, tracking and communication.

There were 10 finalists and 10 semi-finalists chosen from more than 100 applicants in the Founders of Color Showcase in May 2020. All 20 winners earned a spot in Next Wave Impact’s six-month scale program, which has tailored webinars hosted by experts in the fields of law, HR, finance and more. Sponsors of the Showcase include Kauffman Foundation, Anchor Point Foundation, Next Wave Foundation, Grasshopper Bank, Carta, Loon Creek Capital, and Foley Hoag. Prize sponsors include Foley Hoag, Republic, Techstars, Beta Boom, Simple Startup, HRx Services, WOCstar Fund, SustainVC, Ozone Ventures, NextGen, Kapor Capital, Astia and Rockies Venture Club. For more information on the showcase, please see

To create real change for POC-led startups and the entire startup ecosystem, we all have to be aware of the numbers.

Entrepreneurs of color deserve equal access to venture capital and a fair shot at success.

About Next Wave Impact

Based in Boulder, Colorado, Next Wave Impact is a movement driving impact, diversity and inclusion in early-stage investing and the entrepreneurial ecosystem through its innovative learning-by-doing progressive fund model and other activities that drive capital to typically underserved entrepreneurs. Its current impact fund has 99 female investors, 25 of them women of color, and is led by an experienced investment committee of 10 women. The fund has just completed a portfolio of 15 companies, all led by women and/or people of color and diversified across industry, stage and geography. The organization is creating the next wave of educated and trained impact investors who are committed to a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem.