2021 so far has been a year of rebuilding and reformation for small businesses across the Bay Area. While small business and industry were swept up in the tide of closures and disruptions that characterized 2020, we also witnessed a new resilience and celebration of what we cherish most. With the incalculable sum of the personal loss and suffering of the pandemic, through our grief we are now reimagining the way we do business and interact with each other every day.
There is no going back to “normal”, nor a “before.” But the companies that have participated in ICA’s accelerator programs in 2021 reflect a collective move towards something new, and reimagined ways of being interconnected.
Entrepreneurs demonstrating collective inspiration.
ICA was proud to have 19 companies participating in the Accelerator and the inaugural Lab at ICA this year, culminating in two, intimate cohort-only events in April and June. At culmination, entrepreneurs reflected on their journeys, celebrated their progress, and shared what’s on the horizon for them in 2021 and beyond. They inspire us by showing us how we can:
- Sustainably upcycle ingredients and materials (Wisdom Supply Co., Acari Fish, Ugly Pickle Co., GDS Cloth Goods)
- Connect more deeply to our heritage (Afikomen Judaica)
- Make feminism fashion forward (Oakland Craft Company)
- Keep our homes clean (BerryClean)
- Connect and learn in new or virtual ways (Dragonfly Design and Maker Studio)
- Embrace self care (GloGirl Cosmetics, Avocurl, Brash)
- Nourish our bodies (Charlotte Truffles, Forest & Flour, Down to Cook, Tallio’s Coffee and Tea, Teas With Meaning, The Final Sauce) and minds (Last Minute Gear)
Coaching and Capital.
While our vision of building an economy that works for everyone has remained steadfast, ICA’s approach has adapted too. We’ve long-recognized the need to infuse investment with our coaching, and this year we made it a reality. ICA’s inter-connected continuum of coaching and capital now means that we provide access to patient capital for small businesses led by underserved entrepreneurs directly alongside our accelerator programs. In fact, we are proud to not only have invested $2.2M in growth capital in 6 high-growth companies so far this year, but plan to launch our first seed capital investments in earlier-stage businesses by year’s end.
On November 18th, as part of our 25th Anniversary celebration, ICA will host 25+You, an entrepreneur pitch and marketplace event. November 18th will be an opportunity for the amazing entrepreneurs we’ve worked with to pitch their businesses to our network of value-aligned capital providers and our community of small business supporters. The celebratory event will also be a chance to buy directly from our businesses and celebrate ICA’s 25+ years of impact.
Meeting the needs of a rapidly changing entrepreneurial landscape
Today, our investment and accelerator programs have never been more closely linked. We’ve worked hard to build out our offerings in ways that allow us to better serve all of our entrepreneurs. We launched the Lab to serve early-stage startups looking to stabilize operations and get ready to take on capital, and we made all companies that complete ICA accelerator programs eligible for investment consideration from the Growth Fund. Funding is not guaranteed but now graduates of The Lab can be considered for up to $50,000 and up to $500K for those that complete The Accelerator.
2021 will continue to bring new changes and unfamiliar ways of being for businesses and individuals alike. But I know we will be alright: our small businesses will continue to provide good jobs, our entrepreneurs will build wealth for themselves and their future employees, and their companies will continue to provide the goods and services we need to maintain healthy communities. And of course, ICA will be here, too.