PHARRELL WILLIAMS’S BLACK AMBITION ANNOUNCES THIRD ANNUAL PRIZE COMPETITION AND NEWLY LAUNCHED HBCU PRE-ACCELERATOR PROGRAM
Black Ambition is a non-profit initiative founded by Pharrell Williams that aims to close the opportunity and wealth gap by empowering Black & Hispanic entrepreneurs. In 2022, adverse market conditions led to a 45% decrease in financing for Black entrepreneurs. Black Ambition is leveling the playing field by creating the relationships and conditions for Black and Hispanic founders to excel, uninterrupted. The annual Black Ambition Prize Competition provides mentorship, resources, connections, and up to $3 million dollars in awards to founders innovating in consumer products and services, media and entertainment, healthcare, technology, and Web 3.0 industries. Applications for the third annual Black Ambition Prize competition opened on Wednesday, March 1st, 2023, at BlackAmbitionPrize.com and close on May 8th, 2023.
Participating brand partners for the Black Ambition Prize include Adidas, Lennar Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Visa Foundation, Heineken, and Chanel.
“We’ve accomplished so much in such a short time, and it’s been amazing to see our impact so far. Every year just gets better,” said Founder Pharrell Williams. “It’s not just about creating space for our Black, Hispanic and HBCU entrepreneurs, it’s about equity, it’s about giving them the tools, resources, and hands on mentorship to excel uninterrupted. I am constantly blown away by the ideas and businesses that our applicants have developed and created.”
The Black Ambition Prize is more than a monetary reward. Black Ambition Prize winners will receive mentorship, resources, and connections to additional investors and funding. Awardees will also receive bi-weekly office hours with leaders in marketing, PR, and brand building with global brands such as Heineken, Snapchat, Netflix, and other participating companies.
Winning recipients attend town hall meetings with Pharrell and receive life coaching and therapeutic workshops, both in group and 1-on-1, encouraging a holistic career approach. Previous participating founders have shared that they are now more confident in pitching their business to other investors and are grateful for the opportunity to meet new investors through Black Ambition’s network and invite-only company events.
Black Ambition is looking for founders who are thinking big and building the world-changing companies of tomorrow. These founders are building ventures with strong business viability and fundability, dynamic teams and a spirit of innovation and expression. These businesses must be committed to transforming the landscape in their communities, in their hiring practices and in their contribution to giving back and uplifting those around them. Both tracks of the Black Ambition Prize competition will launch with a nationwide call for applications from eligible founder teams.
To be eligible for the Black Ambition Prize, applicants must have, or aspire to achieve, a national or global business reach for their product and or service and have at least one founder or co-founder that identifies as Black/African/African American and/or Hispanic/Latino/a/Latinx – a member of the founding team is defined as having a senior role, such as VP or C-level role. The grand prize winner will receive a $1 million prize and at least fifteen additional teams will receive prize awards ranging from $15k-$250k.
In support of historically Black colleges and universities (“HBCUs”), Black Ambition will also provide a unique Black Ambition Prize application track for HBCU students and alumni with the opportunity to win an HBCU Prize. The grand prize winner will be awarded up to $200,000, with additional teams receiving smaller prizes. Teams must include at least one current HBCU undergraduate or graduate student (full-time or part-time), one recent alum within five years of graduation, or one former student within five years of attending the institution who is a member of the founding team to be eligible. This HBCU-affiliated individual must identify as Black/African/African American and/or Hispanic/Latino/a/Latinx.
Felecia Hatcher, CEO of Black Ambition, states, “As we approach year three of the Black Ambition Prize, we continue to build on our legacy of supporting and empowering Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs to achieve unparalleled success, this year presents even greater urgency with reports showing a drastic decline in funding for diverse founders in the venture space. The work that we’re doing is more important than ever. This year’s Prize is designed to provide a plethora of resources and opportunities to Black, Hispanic, and HBCU founders, allowing them to transform their innovative ideas into successful and impactful businesses.”
Once applications are received and scored, up to 250 semi-finalists will advance to participate in the Black Ambitionist Mentor Program, a 12-week entrepreneurial curriculum. Up to 50 finalists will be selected to receive additional support including access to pitch coaches and design support to prepare to pitch their ventures for funding consideration at Black Ambition’s annual Demo Day in November. Judges for last year’s Demo Day event included Jay Lundy of Combs Enterprises, Monica Wheat of Techstars, and Summer Watson of Aku World.WYE Media Company and AKU.
“Since winning the Black Ambition Prize 2022, I’m feeling invigorated, energized, and excited about our future!” says Camille Belle, 2022 Black Ambition Prize Winner and Co-Founder and CEO of Pound Cake. “I feel like an expert when it comes to pitching our brand now that I’ve completed the Black Ambition experience. Whether I need to pitch our story in 15 seconds, or five minutes, I’m prepared. If you’re on the fence about applying, DO IT!!”
To date, Black Ambition has awarded funding and resources to 65 Prize winners, and supported an additional 500 entrepreneurs with mentorship to strengthen their ventures. Approximately $6M million dollars has been awarded to finalists. Black Ambition also offers community-level programming, events, pitch competitions and regional activations.
Black Ambition has been recognized by Forbes, Essence, Bloomberg, and many more for driving meaningful change. It also was the winner of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas award for Impact Investing. Black Ambition looks forward to meeting the entrepreneurs who are shaping the future.