New Friends & Family Accelerator To Serve As A $20,000 Launch Pad For Underrepresented Founders

Key Insights

  • The new Friends & Family accelerator will serve as a launch pad for early-stage companies led by underrepresented founders. 
  • The program is the brainchild of community nonprofit Grid110 and venture firm Slauson & Co. 
  • Twenty companies have been selected for the initial cohort and will each receive $20,000 in funding in addition to 12 weeks of training. 

A new accelerator gives underrepresented founders the Friends and Family funding round they never had. Last week Grid110, an economic and community development nonprofit, and Slauson & Co., a $75 million venture fund with a focus on economic inclusion, announced the Friends & Family accelerator program.

An inaugural 20 companies have been selected to participate in the 12-week program that will help underrepresented founders refine skills in storytelling, startup leadership, sales strategy and fundraising. 

The Los Angeles-based organizations created this joint effort to give an opportunity to promising founders who lack an initial network of ‘friends and family’ to supply the earliest funding to launch their startups. 

“There are all types of different capital options but there is a large pool of venture capital funding that underrepresented founders don’t have access to or are being locked out of. The program is out to answer, how can we best set them up, if they are going down this road where venture capital makes the most sense for them,” Miki Reynolds, CEO of Grid110, told The Plug.

“There is definitely a problem in underinvesting, way underinvesting, in [underrepresented] founders and I’ve heard lots of Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces conversations about what can we do about this and why, and this part of our attempt to be able to chip away at that.”

Grid110 initially focused only on local founders in Los Angeles but have since expanded the scope of their virtual program and now features founders from across the U.S. There was a substantial demand for the competitive Friends & Family accelerator, which accepted three percent of applicants that applied. Sixty-three percent of applicants are Black, and 47 percent had never raised outside funding. 

“Entrepreneurship is hard so the community, self-mentorship and the ability to support each other, and asking tough questions to get real and super intentional and specific about who their customer is or how they frame their value proposition is valuable,” Ajay Relan, managing partner at Slauson & Co., told The Plug

“Grid does an incredible job of building a strong community, keeping folks engaged even after they go on to do great things and it’s something that Slauson & Co does with the founders that are in our portfolio already.”

Cohort companies will receive $20,000 in non-dilutive funding from the program which will convene twice annually. 

The full Friends & Family Winter 2022 Cohort: 


  • 1000 MORE (New York, NY):  a civic empowerment app that allows average Americans to disrupt the big lobby. 
  • Beautiful Curly Me (Atlanta, GA): a social impact company on a mission to instill and inspire confidence in young Black and brown girls with affirming toys and accessories, empowering books and content. 
  • By Ms James(Pomona, CA):  a paper goods organization inspired by beautiful black people. Their mission is to illustrate the vibrancy and vastness of the spectrum that is blackness. 
  • Cadenzo (Tulsa, OK):  a web-based platform that helps local musical artists and venues quickly find and seamlessly book one another. 
  • CEREMONIA (Los Angeles, CA): a thoughtfully designed & curated lifestyle brand, inspired by travel + nature. 
  • Church Space (Houston, TX): a mission-driven marketplace designed to help churches earn income by renting their buildings as on-demand events, worship, and meeting space. 
  • El Camino (Washington DC): curates travel packages and is building the leading digital community for bold women travelers. 
  • FELOH [Fell•Oh] (Cleveland, OH): a conscious and inclusive social marketplace just for beauty. 
  • Fil₂R (Los Angeles, CA): creates sustainable water filtration solutions for at-home use. 
  • FRONTMAN (New York, NY):  a Gen Z functional cosmetics brand for men. 
  • Hank’s Mini Market (Los Angeles, CA):  a family-owned curated market located in the Hyde Park community of South Central Los Angeles. Our mission is to use art and food to uplift and inspire our community. 
  • Otis Dental (San Francisco, CA):  a subscription-based oral care company and resource for people seeking a better solution to their oral and mental health concerns. 
  • Peculiar Roots (Greensboro, NC):  a clean beauty brand with haircare products for locs and natural hair. 
  • Revival Funds (New York, NY): allows borrowers to buy back and eliminate their debt at the same pennies on the dollar rate that it gets sold to debt collections agencies. 
  • Sons of Hollis (New York, NY): a men’s betterment company supplying natural products and grooming tools for men with coarse & curly, kinky or wavy hair. 
  • The Black-Owned Market  (Brooklyn, NY): a curated shopping destination that allows you to buy from your new favorite Black-owned brands via e-commerce, physical activations, and subscription. 
  • THIMBLE (Los Angeles, CA): a platform of pain and anxiety-reducing products for common needle procedures like blood draws and injections. 
  • Unoma Haus (Costa Mesa, CA): designs and builds high-quality, off-grid van conversions available to rent and for sale. 
  • WESTxEAST  (New York, NY): a DTC virtual design service for custom-fit ethnic clothing. 
  • Wordsmyth (Los Angeles, CA): a tech-enabled platform for companies to discover, source and hire Black + diverse writers for freelance writing services. 

Monica Melton

Monica Melton is the managing editor of The Plug Insights. She previously covered innovation, technology, and venture capital at Forbes. She has also covered politics at POLITICO, entertainment for Time Out New York, but her most fascinating beat has been covering the intersection of technology, finance, and entrepreneurship. She is an alumna of CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Washington.