Morgan Stanley announced the launch of the Multicultural Innovation Lab, an accelerator program for technology and technology-enabled start-ups in the post‐seed to Series A funding rounds. The program targets companies with a multicultural or woman founder, co‐founder or CTO who have the potential to develop innovations that could disrupt sectors.
When Brian Brackeen turned eight, his father gave him a computer – and explicit orders to skip the video games and start coding. The paternal foresight paid off. Brackeen, now the founder of Kairos, a startup that brings artificial intelligence to facial recognition, is looking to disrupt the security and marketing worlds with his new technology.
But first, he has to navigate the investment world in search of capital to make his vision a reality. “I come from a middle-class African American family in Philly,” says Brackeen. “I’m not that guy from an affluent family who went to an Ivy League school and has a huge college network of friends in banking and hedge funds.”
That’s why Kairos – Greek for “opportunity”- and four other startups (Landit, AptDeco, GitLinks and Trigger) run by women or multicultural founders, are moving into the ninth floor of Morgan Stanley’s Time Square headquarters in New York for three months. They are the first cohort of the firm’s “Innovation Lab,” a tech-talent accelerator program and brain-child of Carla Harris, a Vice Chairwoman of Morgan Stanley and Head of its Multicultural Client Strategy Group.
“Only a small fraction of all venture capital money is given to multicultural and women entrepreneurs,” explains Harris. “Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley is a leader at the intersection of what these companies need: capital, connections, and investment banking content. We have the resources, access to relationships, and the expertise that can help refine these businesses and hopefully attract capital to scale up in size.”
Harris sees the multicultural and women-run startup space as an untapped opportunity. “There’s a world of innovators out there with exciting ideas that could become the next multi-billion dollar tech firm, and what they lack is exposure and access to capital and a chance to prove themselves,” says Harris. “Of course, we see this as an opening to identify, nurture and be there to provide the relationships that can mean the difference between obscurity and an IPO.”
More details here.