Research shows that Black entreprenuers face unique hurdles not only when beginning their businesses, but as they attempt to navigate spaces to which they have had little access historically. Overall, Black entrepreneurs typically receive less than 2% of all VC dollars each year while companies led by Black women receive less than 1%, according to data from Crunchbase. Meanwhile, data from the Federal Reserve found that roughly 80% of white companies receive a part of or entirety of the funding they seek. Surveys have also shown that many Black founders lack access to needed mentorship to launch and scale their businesses.
The mission behind Fiverr’s Future Collective accelerator program was to put Fiverr’s brand purpose — create opportunities for anyone to grow their business, brand, or dreams — into action by creating pathways for Black-owned businesses to grow and achieve their business goals.
The Future Collective, in partnership with 1863 Ventures, aims to support Black entrepreneurs looking to take their businesses from high potential to high growth. Now culminating in its second year, Fiverr has built upon the program’s original incarnation, inviting twice the number of fellows to join a lineage of participants that are evolving their businesses through grants, education, and mentorship.
Given the high volume of interest the program received in its first year, Fiverr was able to expand the scope and impact of the Future Collective, accepting double the number of fellows to its second year cohort. Black business owners in any industry were encouraged to apply to be a part of the program. The 10 fellows selected shared inspiring stories about the way their businesses were striving to meet unmet needs of diverse consumers and solving for issues from the unique perspective and experience of Black founders.
The fellows selected for the 2023 cohort received $24K in funding from Fiverr through a combination of Fiverr credits and a cash grant, placement in an accelerator program delivered by 1863 Ventures, and regular mentorship and guidance. Placing an emphasis on mentorship and community engagement, the structure of the 6-month program consisted of 13+ hours of core curriculum sessions, assigned online materials, and 60+ hours of individual coaching. The program provided training on marketing, human capital, financing, sales and operations, and more. The fellows also received access to a number of other resources including personalized service recommendations from Fiverr Customer Support Managers and one on one chats with Fiverr executives.
The 10 businesses that graduated from the most recent class of Future Collective fellows included Bailan, Femigist, Flora and Noor, Look Good Live Well, PPGJ Books, Tiny Docs, Under Her Empire, Unoma Haus, Vontelle, and Wasabi + Well. This cohort spans across 6 industries, including Real Estate, Beauty and Fashion, and Education, and is 80% women-run.
The program received nearly 3,950 applicants in its second year, marking a major increase from its inception. Each of the 10 selected businesses showed significant growth throughout the program, many attributing growth directly to the program itself. These businesses cumulatively launched 28 products or features throughout the duration of the accelerator and acquired nearly 16,000 new customers. 2023 revenue projections for the full cohort are estimated to have doubled compared to last year. 90% of the cohort reported that the program helped refine their business model, strategy, or product/service offering. Other areas of improvement included streamlining operations and generating new business opportunities.
100% of the cohort would recommend the program to a friend with an average liklihood of 9.8 out of 10. Moreover, entrepreneurs rated the program’s overall impact on their business with an average of 9.2 out of 10.
Michelle Wiltshire, founder of Wasabi & Well shared that she “felt lost before the program,” adding that “the Future Collective provided clarity and skills that would have taken years to achieve on my own.” With program guidance and support of Fiverr freelancers in categories such as Brand Design and Marketing Strategy, she was able to make crucial strides to scale her business and expand brand awareness.
Fiverr was also able to expand its investment in the program and the growth of these businesses — in total, $240,000 was allocated to the program, including a cash capital of $180K and $60K in Fiverr credits.