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Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab

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What the 3rd edition of the accelerator programme tells us about the future of venture capital investments and the glaring funding gap.

On April 29th, Morgan Stanley announced the 10 female-headed startups which were chosen for the third edition of their Multicultural Innovation Lab, a New York-based accelerator for technology startups in the post-seed to Series B funding stages.

The programme, which seeks to address funding gaps for multicultural and female startup founders, is a 6-month initiative run out of the bank’s Times Square headquarters in New York. Starting in April, Morgan Stanley organize a quick succession of mentorship sessions which offers:
•Cash contribution from Morgan Stanley in exchange for equity interest;
•Workspace at Morgan Stanley’s headquarters in Times Square;
•Connections to Morgan Stanley and external partner networks;
•Opportunities to pitch to the influential investor community;
•Curated content;
• And access to their first-class network of partners, stakeholders and ecosystems to support further specialization.

Out of 300 applications, the 10 selected by Morgan Stanley were:

BLUEWAVE Technologies: a health tech company that makes a device used to quickly sanitize and deodorize health care items, such as orthotic and prosthetic devices without using water, detergents or manufactured chemicals, providing broad implications for healthcare settings.

Care Advisors: a Medicaid enrollment software for hospitals and insurance companies that reduces the barriers and time it takes to enroll in Medicaid, benefitting both patients and medical providers.

Cosynd: provides an affordable and legal toolkit for individual content creators and businesses to generate simple legal agreements and copyright registrations with others faster than before.

Five to Nine: a platform that empowers HR teams to improve workplace connectivity and promote inclusion, as well as effectively manage and measure real-time feedback from employees on culture building opportunities.

Gappify: a cloud-based bot platform intended to equip corporate accountants with the solutions needed to automate repetitive, time consuming and error prone tasks.

Looklive: provides pictures of the latest celebrity fashion which is shoppable through their website, and also collaborates with influencers to develop monetization strategies for their personal brands, via partnerships with retailers.

Mighty Well: creates medical wearables to cover, protect and stylize medical devices, such as chest ports, feeding tubes, PICC lines and diabetic pumps.

ShopJenzy: an e-commerce platform powered by innovative sizing technology that makes it easy for parents to buy the right size shoes for young kids online.

SmartGurlz: an education platform that teaches girls to code through play. Their flagship product is a robot that young girls learn to code and control through an educational app.

Taina Technology: provides regulatory technology that leverages computer science to empower financial institutions to automate FATCA and CRS compliance saving them money and reducing risks.

The program’s website describes the ideal candidate as being: a multicultural or female C-level executive at the head of a startup that is either technological or technology-enabled and within the seed to Series B funding round after having successfully raised and launched a product line which demonstrates revenue streams that provide validation towards their original business model and market opportunity.

Carla Harris, Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley and Head of the Multicultural Client Strategy Group, commented in a recent press release on the results seen in their previous two sessions. “This program has seen tremendous success and I am looking forward to helping this next group of founders accelerate their businesses and make significant strides in executing their strategies.”

Alice Vilma, Co-Head of the Multicultural Innovation Lab believes the initiative makes a compelling business case for investing in startups led by women and multicultural founders whilst proactively combatting the gender-biased market gap denoted in the following report.

This edition’s 10 cohorts are strongly in-line with Morgan Stanley’s vision of finding high-growth and highly-profitable fintech and general entrepreneurship in the female and multicultural talent demographic. These startups reflect the research done by the firm in finding a “trillion-dollar market inefficiency”, where a significant amount of underinvestment is made into female or minority-founded startups owing to misjudged investor perceptions of future business performance into those entities. Morgan Stanley however has seen these dramatic gaps and using a data set from 2012, they noted that the lack of revenues and businesses proportional to women’s and minorities’ percentage in the labor is “a missed opportunity of $4.4 trillion.”