Ohio’s Hillman Accelerator is trying to make up for one of the most obvious problems in the world of entrepreneurs and tech: variation from the straight white male.
The Cincinnati-based startup accelerator is the first tech accelerator made just for women and people of color, according to a report from Rollout Magazine. Candice Matthews, the co-founder and executive director of Hillman Accelerator, helped start the company last summer to get the ball rolling for more people like her in the tech industry.
She told the magazine in an interview that it’s essential for any organization to have diversity so that they’re not sticking to the same ideas and perspectives time and time again.
“The gender and cultural lenses that we wear cannot and should not be discounted,” Matthews said. “It’s human nature to have unconscious biases. If people don’t get out of their comfort zones then they’ll continue to invest resources, time, and energy into people who seem most familiar, who look like them and agree with them.”
Hillman’s leaders – made up of Matthews, Ebow Vroom, and former NFL star Dhani Jones – have put their words to action by partnering with teams and startups led by minorities. The idea actually started based off a company Matthews had founded called the Black Founders Network
Their plans start with a four-month support program that provides $100,000 in seed investment, as well as mentoring and business strategy implementation.
On top of that stated mission, they have also set out to bring more venture capital into Cincinnati and the state of Ohio, as a whole, through local companies.
So far the accelerator has helped provide boosts to companies like SoLo, a mobile-based funds startup; Ilearsoft software company; and Warmilu, which provide non-electric heat packs.
“Hillman was derived because within the state of Ohio or throughout the United States, there’s a need for diverse talent and there’s a need for diverse individuals within the world of tech,” Jones told Tech Ohio.
It takes a village. Happy 1 year anniversary Hillman! Keep it up @candicenmatthew @DhaniJones @EbenadaIvory! #startupcincy #blackfounders #pocintech #wocinvc pic.twitter.com/bGgsappxGS
— Hillman (@hill7org) April 19, 2018