Bridging the Gap between Entrepreneurship and Equity

Capital One and 1863 Ventures are providing capital and coaching to 500 businesses owned by founders from diverse backgrounds


Entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds face additional obstacles in accessing capital to start and scale a business. 

Black-owned businesses launch with three times less capital than white-owned businesses and startups founded by women raise just 2% of total venture capital funding.

This inequity continues as founders scale their businesses as less than one out of five U.S. businesses are owned by people of color or women.

1863 Ventures, an accelerator program based out of Washington, D.C., strives to bridge the gap between entrepreneurship and equity for businesses owned by “New Majority” founders, a term that represents all underserved and overlooked entrepreneurs — namely entrepreneurs of color.

It connects founders of early- and growth-stage businesses from historically marginalized groups with capital, educational resources and mentorship opportunities.  

In partnership with Capital One, 1863 Ventures launched its Recover, Rebuild, Resilience (3Rs) program in November to provide capital and coaching to 500 businesses owned by founders from diverse backgrounds that have been plagued by racial bias or impacted by COVID-19.

Capital One is supporting the 3Rs program with a $500,000 grant to ensure entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds in Washington D.C. can access this resource for free. It also helped 1863 Ventures create flexible business development coursework that participants can access at their convenience.

“Grants from partners like Capital One enable entrepreneurs to have a line of capital that can be catalytic,” says Melissa Bradley, Managing Partner at 1863 Ventures. “This particular campaign with Capital One allowed us to restructure our training programs and address individuals’ concerns in a time-sensitive matter.”

This support comes as part of Capital One’s initial $200 million, multi-year commitment to advance socioeconomic mobility through the Capital One Impact Initiative

Launched in October 2020, the Capital One Impact Initiative seeks to create a world where everyone has an equal opportunity to prosper through advocating for an inclusive society, building thriving communities and creating financial tools that enrich lives.

“Capital One shares 1863 Ventures’ commitment to bridging the gap between entrepreneurship and equity for founders from diverse backgrounds in our hometown of Washington, D.C.,” says Naomi Smouha, Community Relations Manager at Capital One. “We’re tremendously proud to support the 3Rs program, which is uniquely designed to provide emerging businesses in the District with critical resources to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and thrive for years to come.” 

Recovery, Rebuild, Resilience 

As founders chart their business’s course to recovery, 3Rs participants will complete 20 hours of self-paced online courses that provide targeted technical assistance. The classes are designed to help owners reevaluate business models, revamp marketing efforts and realign operations to meet shifting customer needs.

In the rebuilding stage of the 3Rs program, entrepreneurs will join live group calls and one-on-one coaching. Mentors from 1863 Ventures will tailor coaching sessions to different business sectors to offer industry-specific perspectives. 

Over the course of three months, entrepreneurs will demonstrate resilience as they refine objectives, sharpen their brand identity and create clear strategies for business growth.

Eligible individuals who complete the 3Rs training can then apply for competitive $5,000 grants. Offered on a rolling basis, the grants enable participants to implement their newly outlined business strategies. Graduates are also invited to join the 1863 Ventures member network.

Derek McDaniels, the President & CEO of Eagle Integrated Solutions, joins this program with the goal of scaling the general contracting services business he founded. 

Since the late-2019 launch of his business, which provides energy-related improvements to commercial and residential buildings, McDaniels honed in his focus on implementing UV lighting into work spaces to kill bacteria in the air and on high touch surfaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“My hope is that the 3Rs program will help me develop a focused strategy for directing my focus in the appropriate place so that I can best build my business and widen its recognition beyond just its early adopters,” McDaniels said. 

McDaniels is also excited at the prospect of collaborating with and learning from other entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds in the program.

“I’m looking forward to meeting folks in the group that have similar goals in mind and approaches to operating a business successfully — like iron sharpening iron,” McDaniels said.

Learning to Fly

Through the 3Rs program, 1863 Ventures’ managing director embraces the opportunity to position founders like McDaniels for long-term success.

“1863 Ventures is committed to helping New Majority entrepreneurs transition from high potential to high growth,” Bradley said. 

She says that one of 1863 Ventures’ primary goals is to help its cohort members survive the national business failure rate in which 50% of all businesses fold within five years. 

“We want businesses to survive these current economic challenges and we want entrepreneurs to have the expertise and funding they need for ongoing success,” Bradley said. 

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