The Rev1 Ventures Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Grant Fund Announces Awards to Two Startup Companies
Rev1 believes, and research shows, that companies with diverse leadership are more successful. However, there are many challenges that underserved founders (especially women and people of color) face when building their businesses, starting with a gap in access to resources and early funding.
Underserved founders have fewer personal resources and less access to friends and family capital, resulting in less ability to take risks. To help tackle these realities and support growing more diverse-led companies here in our own backyard, the Rev1 Ventures Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Grant Fund helps bridge the gap for underserved founders. The DE&I Grant Fund was seeded by Rev1 and expanded with funding from Franklin County and the City of Columbus. Rev1 has also partnered with Aventi Enterprises to provide community education to build a pipeline for the fund.
DE&I Grants help level the playing field and build Ohio’s pipeline of innovative new companies.
More than 300 diverse founders were invited to apply to the DE&I Grant Fund. Of the twenty-four applications received, nineteen met the eligibility requirements and went into review with our Grant Committee. Three grants were awarded in 2022. Recently, Rev1 announced that two more Central Ohio companies have been awarded $100,000 grants from the fund.
• Grantee ZED Digital provides “smart environment” solutions using Internet of Things (IoT) technology where people can pay with the phone in their pocket. ZED Digital has been providing a touchless solution to public transportation departments in multiple cities since 2020. The company will be using the grant to fund salaries for crucial hires to accelerate feature development for new markets, including public destinations such as sports venues and museums.
• Grantee Skelo Wear® produces protective equipment and devices powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance player safety and skill development. The grant funding will support salaries for key personnel and will fund the expertise to create prototypes, conduct proof of concept trials, and complete patents and process to further secure intellectual property.
With this announcement, the five DE&I Grant Fund awards made in less than a year represent a $500,000 investment in traditionally underserved women and founders of color who are building high-growth companies in Ohio.
The DE&I Grant Fund is complemented by Rev1’s Grow to Scale Mentor Program, which provides women and entrepreneurs of color access to a network of experienced, culturally competent professionals who provide one-on-one support, advice, and networking for founders building tech-enabled, high-growth companies.
Grantees will also receive support in recruiting key talent for their companies through access to subsidized interns and fellows via Rev1’s Innovation Internship Program, which connects diverse student talent with startups in Central Ohio.
The next cycle of grant disbursement will open soon. Previous applicants are invited to reapply. If you have questions or would like more information about the two-step grant application process, please contact us here.