As the entertainment marketing industry strives to build a more diverse workforce, there are some valuable lessons to be learned from the NewME Accelerator program.
Based in San Francisco, NewME’s 12-week residential boot camp offers African-American, Latino and female technology entrepreneurs mentorship and access to early stage capital to help get their startups off the ground. Founded in 2011, the camps are held twice a year, with only eight participants accepted for each session.
“It’s very intense,” said Angela Benton, founder and CEO of the NewME Accelerator (as well as the founder and publisher of Black Web 2.0). “[Participants] are working on their projects the whole time.” Attendees meet face-to-face with Silicon Valley mentors twice a week, and executives from the industry drop by twice weekly for dinner and informal Q&A sessions. Past mentors and speakers include MC Hammer, who co-founded DanceJam.com; Foundry Group co-founder Brad Feld; and Navarrow Wright, CTO of Interactive One.
Mid-way through the NewME Accelerator, the entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to their mentors, and it can be a humbling experience.
“They get really direct and really raw feedback, and generally what happens after that is they go into scramble mode and have to figure out how to make their startup better,” Benton said. “At the end of the program, we actually have them pitch in front of a room full of investors.”