BLACK AMBITION is a set of Prizes to fund bold ideas and companies led by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.

BLACK AMBITION is reducing barriers to capital, and bridging the wealth gap through entrepreneurship.

BLACK AMBITION provides applicants with resources and access to a network of business leaders.

BLACK AMBITION joins the wave of efforts to open opportunity for Black and Latinx founders.

BLACK AMBITION, these are united stakes.

The Context.

Certain communities have historically, deliberately, and painfully been excluded from access to growth capital for their businesses. With the Black Ambition Prize, we see a future where ideas flourish, pathways to success are elevated, and more Black and Latinx entrepreneurs are better positioned to build generational wealth that will transform the American landscape.

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Entrepreneurship

Among founders of VC-backed companies, only 3% are Black or Latinx.

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Ownership

Black and Latinx people make up ~30% of the U.S. population, but only ~20% of its entrepreneurs.

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Economy

If Black and Latinx people were supported to succeed as entrepreneurs at the same rate as white people, the United States could add 1.1M new businesses and 9M new jobs to the economy.

The Mission.

The truth is, Black Ambition is limitless,

Access is not. Black Ambition is a non-profit initiative working to close the opportunity and wealth gap through entrepreneurship. We invest capital and resources in high-growth startups founded by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. We believe entrepreneurs historically left out of traditional investment funnels are building the companies of tomorrow.

and we all have a united stake in opening opportunity.

The Prize.

The Black Ambition Prize provides a platform for eligible entrepreneurs to access growth capital, pitch feedback, and mentorship. Eligible applicants consist of Black and Latinx founders building across these distinct categories:

Consumer Products and Services — Design — Healthcare — Tech

Identify which Black Ambition Prize best suits your particular business venture, and apply today:

Black Ambition Prize Logo

The Black Ambition Prize.

Black Ambition’s goal is to fund bold ideas, and to help reduce barriers to capital. Black and Latinx entrepreneurs will be eligible to receive mentorship and win up to $1,000,000 in funding.

Apply Now
Black Ambition HBCU Prize Logo

The Black Ambition HBCU Prize.

Black Ambition recognizes HBCUs are vital engines of economic opportunity with important legacies. By tapping into the vibrant and brilliant HBCU community, we will help to fund high potential ideas with our capital that can spark and support the next generation of successful entrepreneurs. The Black Ambition HBCU Prize contains two tracks - in one, entrepreneurs will be eligible for up to $50,000 in funding and in the other, entrepreneurs will be eligible for up to $250,000 in funding. Entrepreneurs in both tracks will be eligible for mentorship.

Apply Now

Timeline.

The application period is open for two and a half months. Selected semifinalists will then participate in a mentorship cohort refining their application and advancing their business. Grand prize winners will be announced at the Black Ambition Demo Day.

  1. Applications Open
    12.02
  2. Black Ambition Prize and Black Ambition HBCU Prize Workshops
    December
  3. Applications Due
    02.18
  4. Semi-finalists announced and peer circles begin
    April
  5. Finalists announced and mentorship begins
    June
  6. National Demo Day
    July

Prize Workshops.

Knowledge is power, and so is capital. Through the Black Ambition Prize selection process, we aim to reduce community information asymmetries, providing access to resources to better assist applicants on their entrepreneurship journey and preparing them for the pitch presentation.

Webinar Date Graphic: December 16

Black Ambition HBCU Prize Webinar

Hosted by the Bridgespan Group, this workshop will provide an overview of the Black Ambition HBCU Prize and answer questions from prospective applicants about the process and criteria.

Watch
Webinar Date Graphic: December 18

Black Ambition Prize Webinar

Hosted by the Bridgespan Group, this workshop will provide an overview of the Black Ambition Prize and answer questions from prospective applicants about the process and criteria.

Watch

Mentorship.

Black Ambition is More Than Access to Capital

Your network is your net worth. We have tapped into a community of leaders who stand in full support of Black Ambition’s mission. These mentors will pledge time with cohorts of semifinalists weekly, answering questions, and helping to tighten individual team pitches. These individuals will advise on specific topics and share their expertise across all facets of entrepreneurship.

We’re a Network of Industry Leaders to Help Guide You on Your Path

Our Network.

We have cultivated unique relationships with leaders and visionaries across sectors. This hand-selected group will support in various ways along the Prize journey.

Partners.

The Black Ambition Prize would not be possible without the generous support of our brand and individual partners, both in time and talent.

This is Black Ambition.

PharrellWilliamsHeadshot
Pharrell Williams

"With Black Ambition, the goal is to help strengthen the pipeline of talented entrepreneurs and close the opportunity and wealth gaps derived from limited access to capital and resources."

Pharrell Williams is a visionary recording artist, producer, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion designer, and entrepreneur. He has been a creative force in the music industry and beyond for more than two decades.

Press

AL DÍA

Pharrell’s Black Ambition nonprofit is a bridge for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs

Pharrell does it all, including offering much-needed…
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Billboard

Pharrell Williams Launches Non-Profit Initiative Black Ambition to Aid Black and Latinx Entrepreneurs

"With Black Ambition, the goal is to help strengthen…
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Complex

Pharrell Launches New Non-Profit Focused on Helping Black and Latinx Entrepreneurs

Pharrell Williams is continuing his dive into philanthropy…
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Essence

Pharrell Williams Launches ‘Black Ambition’ Initiative For Black and Latinx Entrepreneurs

"We need a voice. We have the smallest slice of the…
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Forbes

Pharrell Launches Black Ambition, An Accelerator For Black And Latinx Entrepreneurs

Producer and rapper Pharrell Williams is coupling…
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Revolt TV

Pharrell launches Black Ambition nonprofit to support Black and Latinx entrepreneurs

The organization offers mentorship, pitch feedback…
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Variety

Pharrell Williams Launches Black Ambition Non-Profit Initiative

Pharrell Williams has announced Black Ambition,…
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Vogue

Pharrell on His Black Ambition Initiative and Supporting a New Generation of Talent

Over the course of his three decades in the music…
Read More

Frequently Asked Questions.

FAQ.

We know there are great business ideas that don’t surface in traditional investment processes. Prizes provide an opportunity for a broader set of entrepreneurs to share their ideas, and can spark innovation and dialogue across participants, audiences, and investors that would otherwise not be connected. The Black Ambition Prizes are designed to benefit a broad range of applicants beyond those that receive funding — hundreds of teams will get access to peer support and mentorship to refine their ventures, and all eligible applicants will receive feedback on their idea.

Each step of Black Ambition is designed to support founding teams from backgrounds that are frequently underrepresented in venture capital, with a particular focus on Black and Latinx founders across all genders and orientations. This includes reaching out to networks focused on inclusive entrepreneurship, recruiting a diverse pool of application reviewers and mentors, and reducing traditional bias levers at each stage. In addition, Black Ambition asks all applicants to sign the Kapor Capital Founders’ Commitment — a pledge to build diverse and inclusive companies — to ensure that these values are carried forward beyond the Prize process.

The Black Ambition HBCU Prize and the Black Ambition Prize differ in eligibility criteria and the amount of funding available. The maximum amount of funding for the HBCU Prize is $50,000 for the Business Concept track and $250,000 for the Early Business track. The maximum amount of funding for the Black Ambition Prize is $1,000,000. Teams selected for either prize will receive similar coaching, mentorship, and peer learning opportunities.

For Black Ambition HBCU applicants:

  • Companies that qualify as Business Concept ventures will compete for up to $50,000.
  • Companies that qualify as Early Business ventures will compete for up to $250,000.
  • In addition to awards to teams, the school with the winning prize team will receive a grant of $75,000 to support programs aligned with Black Ambition’s mission (e.g., computer science, engineering, entrepreneurship, innovation).
  • For more information on the prize eligibility, look at the sections titled “Application Eligibility” and “The Black Ambition HBCU Prize” in the FAQs below.

For Black Ambition Prize applicants:

  • Companies that qualify for the Black Ambition Prize will compete for up to $1,000,000.
  • For more information on the prize eligibility, look at the sections titled “Application Eligibility” and “The Black Ambition Prize” in the FAQs below

For prizes above $50,000 USD, winners shall receive the financial support prize 50% in the form of cash grant and 50% in the form of a simple agreement for future equity (“SAFE”), with a maximum SAFE investment amount of $250,000 USD. A SAFE is a convertible equity security that allows the investor to buy shares in a future priced round based on the price of the future round, rather than at a predetermined valuation. To receive a SAFE, a winner shall have validly formed its venture under law as a C Corporation in the United States within ninety (90) days after Demo Day. Terms and conditions for the SAFE will be shared on or about January 29th.

Black Ambition will provide a broad range of applicants with support to refine and improve their ventures. All eligible applicants will receive a virtual membership to Betaworks Studios — which includes access to entrepreneurship content and a network of experts — as well as written comments on their application.

Semi-finalists will also be eligible to participate in Black Ambition Circles hosted by Betaworks — a peer-to-peer mentorship program facilitated by seasoned entrepreneurs.

In addition, finalists will have access to 1-1 mentorship and coaching to develop a strong pitch for their ventures to judges and potential investors.

Demo day is when finalists will have the opportunity to share their ideas with judges and potential investors. Black Ambition will host demo day in July 2021.

For the Black Ambition HBCU Prize, entrepreneurs do not need to have a venture validly formed under law to apply.

For the Black Ambition Prize, entrepreneurs will need to have ventures that are validly formed under law to apply.

Please also note that all winners for both prizes above $50,000 USD shall receive the financial support prize 50% in the form of cash grant and 50% in the form of a simple agreement for future equity (“SAFE”), with a maximum SAFE investment amount of $250,000 USD. A SAFE is a convertible equity security that allows the investor to buy shares in a future priced round based on the price of the future round, rather than at a predetermined valuation. To receive a SAFE, a winner shall have validly formed its venture under law as a C Corporation in the United States within ninety (90) days after Demo Day. Please refer to section 6.2.3 in the Terms and Conditions for more information. Terms and conditions for the SAFE will be shared on or about January 29th.

We will be asking reviewers to uphold a code of conduct based on Black Ambition’s principles and values, including respect for applicants’ submissions. We will not ask reviewers to sign an NDA. This is in part driven by the fact that NDAs are difficult to enforce in the entrepreneurial space, as it is difficult to pinpoint the specific sources where individuals learned about specific information.


Businesses in the field of consumer products and services*, healthcare, technology, and/or design are eligible to apply.

  • Consumer products and services – “businesses that sell goods sold to consumers for their own use or enjoyment and not as means for further economic production activity” (Source: Investopedia) *Consumer products include consumer packaged goods, home goods, food/beverage, and fashion/apparel, but does not include music
  • Design - “includes but is not limited to businesses that specialize in wearable (apparel, footwear, fashion), physical (product design, transportation, material, and architectural), and digital (VR, audio) items that deliver creative solutions for particular needs”.
  • Healthcare - “businesses that provide medical services, manufacture medical equipment, provide medical insurance, or otherwise facilitate the provision of healthcare to patients”
  • Tech - “businesses revolving around the manufacturing of electronics, creation of software, computers or products and services relating to information technology” (Source: Investopedia)
  • Note: Black Ambition is not focused on highly capital-intensive businesses that require significant long-term investment (e.g., biotechnology, pharmaceuticals)

Consult your team members, take into account your collective experience, and decide which prize is best for your company at this moment. The HBCU Prize is meant for entrepreneurs currently attending, or recently having attended an HBCUs, while the Black Ambition Prize is available to all eligible entrepreneurs. Also, be advised the grand prize amount for the Black Ambition HBCU Prize is up to $250K, and the grand prize for the Black Ambition Prize is up to $1M.

Yes, though at least one founding member must be headquartered in the U.S. and the business(es) must be based in the U.S.

There is a minimum of 2 members per team but no maximum.

  • You can participate on a maximum of 2 teams. We allow individuals to be on a maximum of two teams, except for the lead, who can only be on one team.
  • If an individual who is not a lead is on 3+ applications, then Black Ambition will keep the first two submissions.
  • We also recommend that founding members refrain from submitting more than one application given the time requirements of leading a team throughout this process.
  • A lead is defined as the CEO or President.
  • If there is no CEO or President, the most senior role on the founding team will be the lead.
  • If there are multiple members with similarly senior roles on the founding team, you will self-select your lead.
  • If there are 2+ submissions by a single lead, then Black Ambition will keep the first submission.

No, applicants that apply to both prizes will not be considered.

No. For-profit companies with a social impact are encouraged to apply, and will be evaluated on the same criteria as other companies.

No.

Please submit all applications in English.

We will not accept any applications submitted after the deadlines. Please make sure you submit your application before the relevant deadline.

Yes. If you do not receive funding, you can reapply next year.

As long as your venture does not exceed the current dilutive funding or revenue thresholds on Demo Day, you will still be eligible. If your venture does exceed those limits, you will no longer be eligible for the prize.

If you do not receive funding and still meet our eligibility criteria, you can reapply next year.

Yes. Please review the remaining eligibility criteria to ensure you are eligible to apply.

In addition to thoroughly reading through this FAQ section, the following resources can provide a perspective on what to consider when writing your application :

Strong applications will clearly articulate the following elements of their venture:

  • Problem and Solution: Have you identified an important and unmet need, paired with a compelling solution that addresses the problem? What insight can you provide for where the world is heading, and through your concept or venture, in what ways might you be moving in another direction that represents a better* future for more people? (*easier, more sustainable, faster, etc.) For some prizes, this includes a clear description of the minimum viable product or working prototype.
  • Addressable market and distinctive market position: What is your addressable market, and how big is it? How are you poised to serve this audience (and compete with other businesses)?
  • Business Model and Customer Acquisition: What is the plan to acquire new customers or users, distribute the product or service, and generate revenue. What are the current metrics on month-to-month growth and traction (if pre-growth, what is your plan to measure and scale the business)?
  • Quality of Team: Who is helping you build your vision? What makes them a dedicated and creative founding team with the experience or skill-sets to succeed?

A Minimum Viable Product, as defined by Eric Reis (the author of Lean Startup), is a version of a new product or service (e.g., product design/sketch, wireframe, demo video, landing page) that will allow your team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

If you are applying for a prize that requires an MVP, we encourage you to visit the following resources:

Black Ambition recognizes that HBCUs are vital engines of economic opportunity and have rich legacies to build upon. Furthermore, if Black Ambition did not tap into the vibrant and brilliant HBCU community, it would miss a differential opportunity for investment capital that could spark and support the next generation of successful entrepreneurs.

Black Ambition’s HBCU Prize will inspire members of the HBCU community to pursue entrepreneurship and provide both funding and support to launch successful businesses. Just as institutions like Harvard, MIT, and Stanford can provide significant resources available to aspiring entrepreneurs, Black Ambition aims to partner with HBCUs to provide the same opportunities to members of their community.

Eligible teams must include at least one of the following as a member of the founding team:

  • A current HBCU undergraduate or graduate student (full-time or part-time*)
  • A recent alum within 2 years of graduation
  • A former student within 2 years of attending the institution
  • The founding team must include at least one HBCU-affiliated team member who identifies as Black/African/African American and/or Hispanic/Latino/a/Latinx.
  • A member of the founding team is defined as having a Vice President or C-Suite level role (i.e., the CEO or an executive-level direct report to the CEO).

*Part-time students must have completed at least one year of course credits by time of application.

No.

Eligible teams must have at least one member of the founding team who identifies as Black/African/African American and/or Hispanic/Latino/a/Latinx.

A member of the founding team is defined as having a Vice President or C-Suite level role (i.e., the CEO or an executive-level direct report to the CEO).

E-mail info@blackambitionprize.com and our team will get back to you