The online platform won $1 million in a pitch competition featuring companies built by HBCU students and alumni nationwide.
TracFlo, the online platform that allows contractors to track the flow of their costs, has been awarded $1 million from Serena Ventures and MaC Ventures ahead of Saturday’s Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic basketball showcase.
The goal of the competition was to give current students or alumni from HBCUs the chance to win money in structured investments from both firms.
Khalid David, TracFlo’s CEO, was presented a $1 million check at halftime by Michael B. Jordan, Serena Williams and Michael Palanck.
The other two finalists were Candice Blacknall and Brandon Stokes. Blacknall runs a company called GABA, an AI-powered career discovery and development platform that uses social media content to drive mentorship and growth. Stokes is the co-founder and CEO of Blacksteel, a company that aims to issue credit cards that are based on someone’s income and cash flow, not their credit score.
“I called up a couple buddies of mine, Charles King over at Mac Venture and Serena Williams over at Serena Ventures and we wanted to do something to sway the system a little bit,” Michael B. Jordan said in an interview. “We put together $1 million for Black entrepreneurs, it’s a crazy stat that less than 2% of venture capital goes toward Black founders. Black ideas, Black products, Black dreams, it’s their chance to take it home.”
All three finalists were advised by Amazon, Invesco QQQ and Public.com.
“I’ve been beyond impressed,” Sruthi Lanka, Public.com’s CFO said. “Especially as a person of color, it confirmed a suspicion that I already had which, as we all know there’s just an immense pool of talent. The folks I spoke with were extremely qualified but also brought a unique perspective that you don’t usually see. I really learned that there is a lot of opportunity here and we look forward to doing more of this and partnering with more founders.”
Anna Paglia, Invesco QQQ’s managing director and global head of ETFs and Indexed Strategies was happy to support the up-and-coming businesses.
“Invesco is the proud partner of actor and producer Michael B. Jordan and having an opportunity to support new entrepreneurs, HBCU culture and the new innovators of the future is really what makes us proud about being here,” Paglia said in an interview. “These founders are phenomenal and they didn’t really need that much advice to begin with. I told them to be true to yourself and always be direct on what problem they are solving.”
Audible did not serve as an advisor to the founders but Aisha Glover, the company’s vice president of urban innovation said the company wanted to be involved because the event is taking place in Newark, NJ, where Audible’s headquarters are located.
“We have a very intentional purpose around amplifying underrepresented voices and growing the tech and innovation ecosystem,” she said. “The best thing that comes out of this is not only do the start up [companies] have access to the capital that they need but that larger companies like Audible can begin to think of creative ways to collaborate and incentivize them to join us.”
David, a graduate of Morehouse college and the CEO of TracFlo, began the company in 2014 after working for Turner Construction in New York City. He then attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and brought on Jake Snyder, TracFlo’s head of tech. Anjaneya Naik, serves as the company’s product developer.
The Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic, held at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, is a basketball showcase featuring four historically Black colleges and universities. Originally, Hampton University was set to face North Carolina Central University but after multiple members of the team tested positive for COVID-19, Delaware State University gladly stepped in to take Hampton’s place.
The second matchup will continue as scheduled and feature a contest between Howard University and North Carolina A&T, set to tip-off at 4 p.m. EST. Outside of the basketball games and the startup pitch competition, the event also included an HBCU career summit and Cxmmunity, a nonprofit esports organization hosted an NBA 2K Tournament.