Pitch, perfect. Fueling the entrepreneurial spirit in black and brown woman-run businesses.
Momentum doesn’t even begin to describe what is happening over at Black Girl Ventures in 2022. Once a grassroots effort that started in 2016 in a DC apartment living room, counting marbles in a cup to tally votes and donations, Black Girl Ventures (BGV) has exploded onto the scene – now across 12 cities and funding over 264 women of color businesses generating over $10 million in revenue, collectively. They have a solid understanding of who they are, who they want to reach and how best to enable the connections their business model is centered on.
Black Girl Ventures provides black and brown woman-identifying entrepreneurs access to capital, community, and capacity building. Founded in 2016 by entrepreneur Shelly Bell, BGV addresses the unique challenges black/brown women face in accessing social and financial capital to grow their business. Too often in our world a good idea was being passed by due to the basic criteria of not having access to funding or a catalyst to jump start an idea – BGV is aimed to change that and bring more visibility, support, and momentum to minority-led innovation.
They offer several different avenues and programs for businesses to connect into their ecosystem, but their signature offering is the BGV Pitch Program which marries the models of Shark Tank and Kickstarter (crowdfunding) to allow participants three minutes on the stage to make it or break it. In fact, the way they run their pitch competitions is inspired by the historic African-American “rent party” as a purposeful nod to inequities in modern society. Rightly said by their pledge: “ We believe in a world where all ideas have a chance to succeed.”
Developing a digital persona through a captivating content strategy
BGV is all about the people and the experience - that shaky feeling of excitement in a “pitch party” room filled with innovation and passionate ideas. So taking the digital pivot during 2020 as a result of the pandemic forced them to take a hard look at their communication channels and growth marketing plans. They needed to hype up the BGV “persona” in a way that continued to bring new businesses in while creating a life online bigger than what they had been thinking before.
Social media was a big part of their transition and, while they had been active on Instagram and LinkedIn, it was time to expand their strategy with different types of content, engaging through reels and stories and exploring new channels with TikTok, Facebook and Twitter. So, what has worked for them?
- Being authentic: And being consistent – consistently human and consistently black is an important cornerstone to their communication. They don’t shy away from who they are. Putting themselves out there in this authentic way allows people to really forge a relationship with them through social media or otherwise.
- Short-form video: Consistent with the trend of marketers increasing the use of short-form video in their plans, BGV evolved from static posts into video and have seen a significant boost in followers and engagement. Their Instagram handle (@blackgirlventures) received 6,000 new followers just last year alone.
- Having a routine: Plan a schedule and build your content and communication around it so readers know what to expect and come back to you regularly. BGV implements co-working Wednesdays with BGV alumni, pitch practice on Thursdays, and so on.
- Partnerships and collaborations: This was a game-changer. The impact of the Black Lives Matter movement put BGV in the right position at the right time for partners to want to engage more with them and support minority entrepreneurs. Partners like Visa, Nike, Capital One, Eperian and Jane by Johnny Walker (just to name a few) have all stepped up to collab with BGV.
Black Girl Ventures success story: Kim Roxie, Lamik Beauty
Business: Lamik Beauty (Love and Makeup, in Kindness)
Kim believes no matter where you are in business, regardless of the industry, irrespective of the growth, the number one asset to embody is authenticity. She shared, "I think authenticity is just something to have that across the board. It helps with your self-awareness as an entrepreneur and all of that."
**Photo credit: PopSugar
Become an advocate for yourself – go get it
If you’re a marketer (obvs) or an entrepreneur reading this story, BGV wants you to know that you are your own advocate – either for your organization or yourself. Know yourself, know your audience and ask for more. Push boundaries and grab what you need because you probably deserve it. And lastly, know when to laugh! Don’t take yourself too seriously and (by all means) make sure there is a Beyonce meme in the mix.
Join the BGV community on May 13 and 14 in Union Market for their BGV Block Party and the unveiling of their newest mural collaboration with Nike.