NEW YORK (June 28, 2021)—Morrison & Foerster, a leading global law firm, is pleased to announce that 16 participants have been selected as part of its inaugural Black Venture Accelerator (BVA) class. The BVA is a new pro bono program that offers Black founders and Black-owned businesses pro bono legal services tailored to help their company progress to new heights and that offers additional business support and counsel to help them scale their ventures.
The BVA’s goal is to foster financial inclusion by providing access to sophisticated legal services as well as opportunities for growth. In addition to pro bono legal services, the inaugural program offers creative and practical solutions to business challenges, mentorship, educational resources, networking opportunities, and connections to other needed professional services. Lawyers from the firm’s breadth of practices provide holistic, comprehensive advice on issues typically faced by emerging companies across many industries, including technology, fintech, life sciences and healthcare, consumer products and retail, food and agriculture, media and entertainment, energy and infrastructure, and real estate.
The inaugural class includes:
- AffordableFuneralsNetwork.com (AFN), an online community dedicated to bridging the gap between funeral homes and the families that need them. AFN will introduce the industry’s first mobile app designed to provide its users with immediate access to “COVID-19 conscious” funeral service providers across the United States in their time of need.
- AgriLedger, a distributed ledger platform that brings transparency along the agricultural value chain and builds trust among the various stakeholders. The platform enables full end-to-end traceability of products, provides tracking of all related financial obligations, and facilitates immediate distribution of payments to participating actors.
- All Bets LLC, a borderless betting joint venture opportunity that creates a highly mobile, custom experience with restaurant partner locations. All Bets will provide a custom, curated mobile betting experience starting with the Washington, D.C. community and expanding into neighboring states.
- BandwagonFanClub, Inc., an identity infrastructure company that is built to help live event organizers and experience creators better understand their audience and provide tools to help them manage, aggregate, and store consumer identity data.
- BAOBAB Clothing, a maker of premium, stylish apparel that’s made to last, including their first product, The Perfect Polo Shirt, a performance luxury shirt that is resistant to fading and shrinking, blocks liquid stains, neutralizes odors, and prevents collar curl.
- Beautiful Ventures, a creative social enterprise that helps Black, story-driven creatives grow their entrepreneurial skill, narrative influence, and creative legacies.
- Change Cadet, a change management and organizational development consulting firm that offers a broad array of services including executive coaching, strategic planning, problem solving, and facilitation in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and belonging in the workplace.
- Coils to Locs, a direct supplier to cancer center hospitals of tightly coiled/curly high quality synthetic medical wig styles for Black women or any woman with highly textured hair experiencing chemotherapy or medical-related hair loss. Coils to Locs aims to disrupt the healthcare disparity for Black cancer patients.
- Do It For The Cocktail Culture (D.I.F.T.C.C., LLC), a consumer service business that focuses on telling Black history in celebratory ways and promoting Black contributions to society and the liquor industry.
- Gamenana LLC, which provides a platform to find buyers and sellers for video game transactions.
- The GEM Conglomerate, a company that provides agronomic extension services to Africa’s smallholder farmers using drone technology.
- Kanarys, a technology platform that helps companies diagnose, measure, and optimize DEI within their workplace. Kanarys’ software gathers and analyzes over 150 DEI data points, including industry rankings and trends, allowing partner companies to measure performance against DEI benchmarks and better understand the challenges and opportunities facing them, so they can build a more inclusive workplace culture.
- Lillian Augusta, LLC, an innovative company that reimagines the possibilities for Black hair care by offering hair without harm. The company’s product is plant-based braiding hair, a sustainable alternative to synthetic braiding hair.
- Luna Magic, a women-led and Afro-Latina-owned beauty and lifestyle brand founded in Los Angeles with a mission to introduce high-performance cosmetics, bold flavor, diversity, inclusivity, and vibrancy to the beauty industry.
- Shake Loose, an organization that provides counseling, court-mandated classes, and sober living housing to individuals in the underserved Los Angeles and Santa Monica areas who are experiencing homelessness and/or have recently been released from jail and seeking to fulfill court requirements.
- The World Data Science Institute, a specialized fintech agency offering financial Data Science as a Service (DSaaS). The firm primarily designs blockchain and advanced financial technology applications, including CryptoShare App, a crypto peer-to-peer blockchain loan platform specifically targeted at Black-owned businesses or individuals who identify as Black, African, or of South American descent around the world.
The BVA selection committee was led by partners Dario de Martino and Crystal Kaldjob and included almost 30 attorneys from across Morrison & Foerster’s U.S. offices.
“We received a really high number of applications for our inaugural class and are excited by the prospect of making change for the 16 businesses and organizations selected. Given the level of interest, we hope to be able to expand the program further next year and thank our external partners for their commitment,” said Dario de Martino, Morrison & Foerster corporate partner and co-leader of the BVA. “We are grateful that partners, associates, diversity, equity and inclusion specialists, and staff at the firm have all enthusiastically rolled up their sleeves to support this initiative. This program is a reflection of everything that our firm stands for.”
Crystal Kaldjob, Morrison & Foerster finance partner and co-leader of the BVA, added: “So many of the selected businesses are not only Black-founded or -owned but address the myriad issues and challenges that are at the center of the Black experience in America, from changing perceptions of Black people, promoting DEI in the workplace, celebrating Black history, to reimagining Black hair care and addressing disparities in access to healthcare. We are incredibly proud to be supporting such a wide range of talented entrepreneurs and look forward to providing them with the knowledge needed to manage the legal aspects of launching, funding, and growing a startup.”
Find out more about Morrison & Foerster’s Black Venture Accelerator.
Learn more about Morrison & Foerster’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion and our response to racial injustice.