Business accelerator program for Black and brown femmes receives $270,000 from JPMorgan Chase

by Leah Bomar

Story Louisville has long been a local hub of inspiration, innovation, and possibility.  

Story’s Wild Beta Accelerator Program is now poised to connect and invest in even more startups led by minority women after receiving  a $270,000 investment from JPMorgan Chase. The investment into Wild will focus on empowering Black and Latinx femme-identifying founders to create, connect and generate business opportunities through a 14-week mentoring and entrepreneurial coaching program. 

“Imagine what will happen once these already brilliant founders gain access to the right networks,” said Natalia Bishop, Story founder and Wild Managing Director.  “Through strategic support from JPMorgan Chase, Wild is now well-positioned to provide the regional community and other national partners with the ideal channel for making those investments.” 

Ausha Hilliman, owner of Julee’s Mocha, opened her coffee shop summer 2022 in the West End of Louisville. 

“People said, ‘You’re gonna open a coffee shop in the West End?’ But I knew it was needed and thought I’ll never know if it’s going to work if I don’t try.”

Hilliman discovered the benefit of placing herself in the right circles after attending an Amplify event in Butchertown which led her to Story.  After coming to Start Up Chow Down, a lunch for founders hosted at Story the last Friday of each month, she became a member on the spot.  

“I like the fact Story asks, ‘What do you need? How can we help you grow?’ “If you don’t give people the opportunity to get exposure, they’ll never learn. I’m learning which questions to ask.  One of the first Founder Friday’s I went to, they listened and said, ‘That all sounds great, but you didn’t ask for money.’  I didn’t know I could do that.”

“I didn’t even know where to start,” she added.  “I went everywhere trying to find resources… I went from filing out LLC paperwork in my care last July 2021 to opening my own location less than a year later! I’m so happy.” 

Wild board member, Britt Fitzpatrick spoke at the press conference at Story on July 28.

“We’ve talked a lot about financial capital and I don’t want to diminish that, so if you have access to funding please continue to support but I also want to talk about network capital,” she said. “Entrepreneurship is a relationship based endeavor… opportunities come from the relationships you have. People who are willing to make introductions for you, speak on your behalf, walk you into rooms connect you to customers, funders.  Even if you don’t have access to a fund you can still be involved in this community.”

A second investment of $270,000 from JPMorgan Chase is being invested to support AMPED’s Russell Technology Business Incubator (RTBI), a Black and Latino business incubator working to remove significant barriers to growth for minority-owned businesses and contribute to legacy business that will create generational wealth.  

Dave Christopher, AMPED founder and executive director, spoke at the press conference about RTBI’s desire to address some of the underlying issues blocking minorities from succeeding in business.  

Dave Christopher, AMPED Founder and CEO

“You see somebody banging their head against a wall repeatedly and you go to them and ask ‘Why are you banging your head against that wall?’ and their response is ‘What wall?’ What we realized when came up with the idea for the incubator is there was trauma that balck and brown families were facing that they didn’t even realize they were facing because… they had just adjusted to it.  So we wanted to address that.”  

“77% of what we do at RTBI  is mental,” he said. “We have a growth strategy so you understand that we believe you are going to be wealthy and we want you to understand how to create that wealth and manage that wealth.”  

Paul Costelm Regional Manager for JPMorgan Chase in Kentucky said these investments will create ‘access to capital, technical assistance, mentorship and other critical resources needed for business growth.

Paul Costelm Regional Manager for JPMorgan Chase

“JPMorgan Chase partners with the community to ensure all families get the support they need,” said Stephanie Gostomski, Vice President of Regional Communications at JPMorgan Chase.  “We figure out a way to get them the resources they need.” 

Jose Donis attended the press conference to cover the news for  Al Dia en America, the only Spanish language print publication in Kentucky.

“I’ve been following JPMorgan Chase promote their equity program all across the United States and including Louisville to promote inclusion and try to reach out.”

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