Series Sponsor: Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab 

This case study series was made possible by the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab. Their in-house startup accelerator promotes financial inclusion and provides access to capital for early-stage technology and technology-enabled companies led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs. Apply to join their next accelerator cohort, open through September 16, 2021.

We spoke with Shawn Springs, a participant in Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab and CEO of Windpact. Founded in 2011, Windpact is a material data and technology company utilizing machine learning to minimize impact-related concussive head trauma across various industries including sports, automotive and the military.

Springs, a former pro football player for the New England Patriots, knows firsthand the need to support underrepresented women, Black, and people of color entrepreneurs and appreciates that Morgan Stanley is addressing this need through their Multicultural Innovation Lab. With 11 employees, Windpact provides critical data for product developers and manufacturers that run design and simulation tools needed to develop products that help protect against impact trauma.

Their technology has been used in products like baseball helmets, padding in vehicles and other wearable technology to prevent injury. In the accelerator, the Virginia-based company made a major product pivot.  

 

MS: How did you learn about the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab? 

Shawn: I learned about the Lab through word of mouth, then their website. 

MS: What compelled you to apply to the program? 

Shawn: We knew there was a need for support for Black entrepreneurs, and our company fit the requirements. This was an opportunity to learn from one of the best companies in the world. We also knew if we had Morgan Stanley’s support, it would give us the type of recognition we needed to be seen. 

MS: How did your experience in the program help you in your business? 

Shawn: We gained so much knowledge. We learned everything from company structure to venture capital, brand marketing, the legal aspects, positioning, and the value a business brings. Morgan Stanley was outstanding. There was no aspect of the business they didn’t touch on. 

MS: What surprised you about the Lab?

Shawn: You think you know the reach of Morgan Stanley until you are inside. It’s a huge infrastructure that can reach any company or person. 

MS: What were some of the most important takeaways from your experience in the MCIL?

Shawn: Morgan Stanley really helped us through COVID-19 and the social justice movement in 2020. It didn’t matter who you were, we were all affected. To have the experience of MCIL was invaluable. They talked through what adjustments we needed to make, through important topics like the mental health of our team. This support and guidance were needed in a time our country had never seen before. 

MS: What have been your greatest accomplishments or milestones reached during or since the program? 

Shawn: We have evolved our business into a material data platform. Our company hired more people. We have developed relationships with big companies and top scientists and focus on the algorithms of AI and data rather than the integration of a product.

MS: What advice would you give to women and multicultural entrepreneurs starting out on their journey?

Shawn: It’s important to have the ability to manage the highs and lows. There is excitement about potential growth, but it can be scary to be an entrepreneur because of the fear of failure. It’s hard to get the right talent, manage people, raise money, and make the right connections. This won’t be an easy process if you don’t go into it with the understanding it is a journey.

 

Series Sponsor: Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab

This case study series was made possible by the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab. Their in-house startup accelerator promotes financial inclusion and provides access to capital for early-stage technology and technology-enabled companies led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs. Apply to join their next accelerator cohort, open through September 16, 2021.