Friday, the nation’s leading entrepreneurs of color tied the bow on a three-day conference that opened the door to a premier network of advisors, experts, and investors in a series of pitch contests, panels, and showcase events. This reality-changing annual event took place in New Orleans on July 1-3, 2015, coinciding with ESSENCE Festival presented by Coca-Cola.
“Entrepreneurs of color do not typically have access to deep pools of capital, and this week was all about convening the nation’s best and brightest and presenting opportunities for them to access the resources they need to succeed,” said Earl Robinson, the president of PowerMoves.NOLA.
The national conference is part of PowerMoves.NOLA’s ongoing effort to increase the number of America’s venture-backed, minority-founded companies in high-tech and high-growth sectors. This national conference was made possible through the support of Chevron as Founding Sponsor and Morgan Stanley as Presenting Sponsor.
“We are pleased with the success of this year’s PowerMoves.NOLA, and congratulate all of the participating entrepreneurs on their achievements. As Founding Sponsor, we are committed to PowerMoves.NOLA’s efforts to promote economic inclusion and expand access to economic opportunity,” said Chevron Gulf of Mexico General Manager of Public Affairs Sakari Morrison.
PowerMoves.NOLA featured a number of events designed to provide resources to entrepreneurs of color, including:
Entergy Angel Pitch
San Francisco-based Ntensify won $25,000 for its service that provides branded merchandise stores as additional revenue streams for mobile app developers.
Morgan Stanley Series A Pitch
Atlanta-based startup Partpic won $25,000 for its enterprise software solution that simplifies the search and purchase process of replacement parts using visual recognition technology.
PowerMoves Alumni Panel
This panel featured former PowerMoves.NOLA Pitch and Demo Day participants discussing their experiences scaling their startups and raising capital as entrepreneurs of color.
Morgan Stanley FinTech Showcase
This invitation-only showcase featured five entrepreneurs in the financial technology field presenting their business models to a select group of investors and industry leaders.
PowerUp Demo Day presented by IBERIABANK
Twenty early-stage tech entrepreneurs of color culminated their 6-week boot camp at the PowerUp Demo Day. Callr won the $15,000 cash prize to help take their startup to the next level. Callr is a new technology that makes calling in to conference calls easy. It makes remembering a conference number or passcode a relic of the past.
Big Break Power Pitch
Four consumer-focused startups competed at the 2015 ESSENCE Festival presented by Coca-Cola for the chance to get their “Big Break.” Flat Out of Heels won the $25,000 cash prize and exposure to investors and business leaders. Flat Out of Heels are the solution to stiletto sore feet. The rollable flats are stylish, comfortable, durable and compact enough to fit in a small clutch purse. Placed in venues like airports, nightclubs, malls, and hotels, where many women are wearing heels, Flat Out of Heels vending machines make it convenient to get emergency shoes when needed. The Big Break Power Pitch was moderated by Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley.
“The caliber of the entrepreneurs PowerMoves.NOLA convenes is truly impressive, and Morgan Stanley was honored to sponsor the national conference and provide some of the nation’s best and brightest entrepreneurs of color a platform to put their businesses on center stage in front of premier investors, advisors, and peer networks,” said Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley is a PowerMoves.NOLA presenting sponsor, and Harris, along withNicole Irvin, Head of Technology Execution and Vice President of Morgan Stanley’s West Coast Technology Investment Banking Division, served as judges in the Morgan Stanley Series A Pitch competition. Harris also moderated the Morgan Stanley FinTech Showcase.
This second annual PowerMoves.NOLA national conference marked the initiative’s first year in existence. Founded by New Orleans businesswoman Leslie Jacobs, PowerMoves.NOLA is expanding with programs in cities across the U.S.
“I am truly inspired by the creativity and talent seen here this week, and it makes me very hopeful for the future of our country,” said Jacobs. “We look forward to showcasing and working with even more entrepreneurs this coming year, as part of our mission to increase the number of minority-founded, venture-backed companies in the United States.”