Endeavor Miami names winners of its first pitch competition for Black founders

By Evely Forte, South Florida Business Journal


Endeavor Miami, a startup accelerator with global ties, hosted its first pitch competition for Black entrepreneurs and named the winners Wednesday.

Ten early-stage, Black-led companies based south of Orlando were selected to participate in the two-hour competition.

“The entrepreneurs that we’re supporting are mostly under the radar,” Managing Director Claudia Duran said. “We wanted to give them a chance to shine and for people to get to know them.”

A panel of three judges listened to each of the pitches and named three winners. They were awarded access to Microsoft for Startups programming, which includes $25,000 worth of Microsoft Azure credits and technical consulting sessions.

The first-place winner, Tampa-based Black Stock Footage, will also receive a spot in one of Endeavor Miami’s accelerator programs and $25,000 in cash. Glamo, the second-place winner, will be awarded $15,000, while Loan My Sole won $10,000 as the third-place winner.

Judges included:

  • Jane Wooldridge, business and visual arts editor at the Miami Herald

  • Mariano Amartino, director for the Americas at Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft for Startups

  • Marcell Haywood, founder and CEO at Fort Lauderdale Encompass and an Endeavor Miami entrepreneur

Imani Lee, co-founder and CEO of Black Stock Footage, said he launched his company after recognizing the lack of Black representation in stock video clips.

The moment he realized he had won first place will replay in his mind forever, he said.

"I really appreciate [the judges] for believing in me and the vision of Black Stock Footage."

The financial funding will go toward the company's $75,000 campaign. Lee said this award helped the company meet a third of its fundraising goal and will assist Black Stock Footage build out its beta platform.

"It will allow us to expedite some of our initiatives, which will also just prove our concept even more and even faster," he said.

But for Lee, the pitch competition is more than awards. He said events such as these give hope and tangible support to businesses in the Black community.

"I think this is going to be an inspiration for a lot of future companies," he said. "They're going to look at this and go, 'If they can do it, I can do it too.'"

The virtual competition was open to the public for viewing through a partnership with the Miami Herald and Microsoft for Startups. The event sought to help local Black-led ventures gain exposure to more potential investors.

In the U.S., Black-led companies receive about 1% of venture capital funding, according to the Harvard Business Review.

“That’s why Endeavor Miami is really focusing on supporting minorities in different ways,” Duran said. “And this is one way of really getting that showcasing.”

The entrepreneurs had about seven minutes to present their pitch deck, which detailed their vision, product or service, team growth strategy and some financials.

Duran said the best pitches were energetic and engaging, so that potential investors would get excited about the business.

“If the entrepreneur is able to explain it in a simple way that the audience, who are not experts would understand, then that’s a good pitch because they are able to really communicate efficiently what they’re doing,” she said.

Duran said Endeavor Miami will continue to host pitch competitions for underrepresented businesses in South Florida.

The organization is open to partnerships with other companies who may want to get involved with these events moving forward.

“The more people contribute, the more impact we can generate,” Duran said. “This is a community effort. It is a collaborative initiative. We are running it, but I would love to have more partners.”

A nonprofit, Endeavor is a globally connected entrepreneur program that operates in 37 markets throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North America. It has selected more than 2,000 founders leading 1,200 companies that have created 3 million jobs and $20 billion in annual revenues. Coral Gables-based Endeavor Miami was the organization's first U.S. affiliate.


View the South Florida Business Journal article at https://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2021/07/01/endeavor-miami-first-pitch-competition.html