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Northwestern Mutual announces five new startups in Black Founder Accelerator

Now in its third year, company initiative provides $100K, mentorship and resources to support qualifying high-potential Black entrepreneurs

Bryan Young, Stella Ashaolu, R’Kes Starling, Michael Haddix, Ed Ross.

Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual, in partnership with gener8tor, today announced the addition of five tech startups to its Black Founder Accelerator program. An extension of the company’s Sustained Action for Racial Equality (SARE) Task Force, the program “demonstrates Northwestern Mutual’s commitment to closing the racial wealth gap and empowering the next generation of Black entrepreneurs,” according to a press release issued Thursday.

These startups – the first of two five-company cohorts joining the Black Founder Accelerator program in 2023 – are eligible to receive a $100,000 investment, access to venture capital partners, individualized coaching from Northwestern Mutual executive mentors, inclusion in a specially curated 12-week program and more.

“Since the program’s inception, we’ve partnered with more than two dozen Black-founded startups nationwide, with program alumni positioned to raise additional funding, secure contracts and partnerships, and continue to grow their businesses,” Abim Kolawole, chief audit executive at Northwestern Mutual, said in a statement. “We remain committed to helping more Black entrepreneurs reach their potential and pioneer a pathway for future innovators to thrive in technology and business.”

In 2021, the Black Founder Accelerator program was launched to provide Black entrepreneurs with the funding and resources needed to drive innovation in the tech industry and to help address the ongoing racial gap in venture capital funding. Alumni have gone on to join other accelerator and industry-specific growth programs, and have sold products and services across a variety of sectors, the press release said.

“This business accelerator has been a powerful vehicle for cultivating greater diversity, equity and inclusion, and we’re committed to ensuring the program – and the exciting startups it supports – continues to thrive,” Craig Schedler, managing director of Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, said in a statement. “As demonstrated by the remarkable work from last year’s cohort, I am looking forward to seeing the lasting impact these five innovative startups and founder teams will make in their communities.”

The press release said all five startups selected to participate in the program all align with Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures’ key strategic areas of focus including fintech, insurtech, digital health and data analytics.

The startups include:

Home Lending Pal of Orlando, Florida. Founded by CEO Bryan Young, the company which provides lenders with a streamlined platform to find and connect with potential pre-vetted borrowers who are looking for home loans. The platform’s AI technology reduces the time and effort needed to approve a loan application by helping lenders assess the borrower’s creditworthiness and financial situation.

Reveles Clinical of Southlake,Texas, founded by R’Kes Starling to support drug and clinical developments by expanding access and increasing awareness of clinical research, specifically for minority communities.

Scout, an investing platform based in Clifton Park, New York, founded by Michael Haddix that allows users to create a diversified portfolio, gain financial insights and connect with their digital financial advisor through their phone. By increasing the accessibility to investing, the platform is designed to help close the wealth gap.

Core Ai based in Cary, North Carolina, a conversational analysis platform founded by Ed Ross which enables enterprise leaders to gain real-time insights into their employee development conversations. By leveraging advanced algorithms and machine learning models, the platform provides accurate and comprehensive analysis of conversations and emotions.

Chicago-based WeSolv, an AI and performance data-driven platform founded by Stella Ashaolu that automates sourcing more diverse candidates and objectively assesses skills and competencies with real mini-projects. The platform democratizes access to real experience and uses predictive data to reduce hiring bias.