Visiting the BIG Accelerator in Atlanta

One of my favorite things about being an angel investor (or at least the way I do it), is to look at startups across the US and internationally and compare and contrast ecosystems. I’ve never bought into the hype that any particular ecosystem is “the” best. Each place I’ve visited from Cedar Rapids to San Diego to Atlanta to Boston (and of course San Francisco) has its own benefits and its own detractions. When I hear that some place wants to be the “Next Silicon Valley”, I cringe. It’s just silly. If you are truly innovative, you don’t need to copy any place else.

So, on Friday I visited The BIG Accelerator in Atlanta, which is ta 12-week accelerator program for tech (or tech-enabled) startups led by Black and Latina women. Created by digitalundivided and its leader Kathryn Finney, BIG seeks to catapult these excellent entrepreneurs to success.

I was impressed with the companies at BIG, and I wasn't surprised. Digitalundivided is legendary, and they had their pick from the best up and coming entrepreneurs in the country.

As I sat in their brand new space, 16 floors above Atlanta, I watched each woman pitch her company. We are two and a half months from demo day (January 14, 2017), and I was considerably impressed by what I saw. I can’t wait for January to see how the companies grow over these coming months.

These companies were clearly some of the better ones I have seen pitch in a while. So as I watched them, I was haunted by digitalundivided’s #ProjectDiane report that documented how Venture Capital basically does not fund companies led by Black or Latina women. It is imperative that the companies from BIG get exposure to enough investors to change this data. So, my investor friends will be hearing from me. The time for talking about changing Venture Capital is over. It's time to invest.

Barbara Clarke