Breaking Barriers

Breaking Barriers

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    A local tech-driven startup accelerator focuses on underrepresented and minority businesses and business owners. Read on for all the tech-tastic details!

    Hillman is the first accelerator program in the Midwest that offers support to underrepresented, minority tech-driven startups. 

    Founded by Candice Matthew Brackeen, Hillman is dedicated to operating an inclusive entrepreneurship education program, which includes mentorship, specialized curriculum, partnerships, and capital investments. 

    Matthews Brackeen is passionate about helping the community and bringing together varying backgrounds to accelerate innovation in the Queen City.

    “We have a rich legacy of entrepreneurship as a community,” explains Matthew Brackeen. “I see that in a variety of ways. There’s just a really cool pipeline building here for Black entrepreneurship.”

    Hillman was initially the Hillman Accelerator, which was launched in 2016 by Matthews Brackeen along with former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones and Qey Capital’s Ebow Vroom. Then, it mainly focused on providing underrepresented founders with seed funding, partnership opportunities, and mentorship, which continues on today. 

    Hillman’s accelerator program is 12 weeks long and focuses on tech-driven companies. This means that the program is open to companies that leverage technology to build their produce or service such as software, apps, and medical devices, as well as companies that leverage technology to manufacture or distribute their products or services including e-commerce companies, consumer product companies, and home services apps.

    The program is especially on the look out for tech-driven startups with women founders, co-founders, Chief Technology Officers, or women in C-suite roles who have equity and tech-driven startups with founders of color, co-founders of color, Chief Technology Officers of color, or people of color in C-suite roles who have equity. Additionally, Hillman is also looking for underrepresented founders who have successfully raised from friends and family, angel, crowdfunding, or seed rounds.

    Matthews Brackeen enjoys being able to help underrepresented and minority startups get their feet on the ground through the accelerator program. And with more than 15 years of entrepreneurial experience, she has what it takes to help those companies get there. In fact, Matthews Brackeen is the co-founder of Hello Parent, a national safety technology partner of the Brady Campaign to Reduce Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is also the founder of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Black Founders Network, which aims to address the need for increased diversity and inclusion efforts in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

    To learn more about Matthews Brackeen and Hillman, visit https://www.hill7.org

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