Amazon Alexa Fund Opens Black Founders Build with Alexa Accelerator Program
Amazon Alexa Fund and Alexa Startups have begun soliciting applications for the new Black Founders Build with Alexa program. The four-month program for Black-founded startups developing voice and AI products includes a chance for up to $100,000 in Alexa Fund investment and other benefits.
Black Founders Build with Alexa
The new accelerator will bring together up to 10 Black-founded startups in North America for the program. The accelerator is part of an ongoing collaboration between Amazon and Blavity, a media brand for Black millennials, to increase tech startup diversity. The coordinators are looking for startups that could integrate their tech with Alexa before the accelerator ends. Once chosen, the startups will have an opportunity to receive the Alexa Fund investment as well as up to a year of tech and business support from the Alexa teams at Amazon. The program includes events where founders will give speeches and join panel discussions, as well as chances to demonstrate their products to other prospective investors. The applications, including an Alexa Skill proposal, close until April 24. Selected startups will interview with the Alexa Startups Business Development and Solution Architect teams before the cohort is chosen.
Challenges in diversity, equity and inclusion in startups and venture capital (VC) are not new. Thankfully, we are starting to see more attention brought to these issues,” Amazon wrote when announcing the partnership plans in November. “[T]he Amazon Alexa Fund is launching programs to help improve equity for underrepresented founders. Our goal is to drive inclusiveness and equity for entrepreneurs of color who are disproportionately underrepresented.”
The Alexa fund has an ever-widening portfolio of voice and AI startups. The fund recently participated in a $24 million round for Logically, which uses AI to track and combat harmful misinformation, as well as VR livestreaming platform LIV’s $8.5 million round, and AI audio wellness startup Endel’s new $15 million funding. The connection to Alexa can be obvious, as with conversational AI platform Voiceflow and its $20 million round, or more oblique, like the $20 million for smart home energy Span that the Alexa fund participated in.