Feb 10, 2022 - Business

Oracle NetSuite launches business incubator

Illustration of a plant shaped like a cog being watered by a watering can
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Austin-based Oracle NetSuite will launch a startup incubator with a focus on helping Black entrepreneurs jumpstart their businesses, the company first told Axios.

The big picture: NetSuite Accelerator will initially partner with Capital Factory to identify local Black-owned businesses that can benefit from its software and services.

  • The program will offer discounted software to help businesses scale, mentorship and strategic guidance from senior NetSuite executives, and free training and technical support for entrepreneurs.
  • NetSuite Accelerator plans to expand partnerships with incubators across the country and eventually help founders from other underserved communities, including LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, women and veterans, the company said.

Why it matters: A healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem can help sustain an area's economy by creating jobs, elevating standards of living and supporting other businesses.

  • And building support networks for Black entrepreneurs — and others from communities that have been marginalized — increases the diversity of thought and experiences within the business community.
  • "This is a market we want to make sure is sustainable and cultivated," George Ploss, director of NetSuite's global business accelerator, told Axios.

Yes, but: Entrepreneurs of color have long been left out when it comes to accessing capital, and this effort from Oracle won't offer funding to founders.

Instead, it will discount its own software and offer free services and mentorship to business leaders.

  • Still, Ploss said funding is only one slice of the pie for underserved entrepreneurs.
  • "A lot of times, people and organizations treat communities as if one philanthropic donation is going to solve all problems," Ploss told Axios. "This is more of a partnership, and for us to help cultivate and accelerate a market that we know is incredibly important to the economy and also important to us."

According to McKinsey & Co., only 4% of Black-owned businesses in the U.S. survive beyond the startup stage even though 20% of Black Americans launch businesses.

  • While funding to Black startup founders quadrupled in the year after George Floyd's murder, those same entrepreneurs received only 1.2% of the the $147 billion in venture capital invested in U.S. startups in the first half of 2021, a July report from Crunchbase found.

Zoom in: In recent years, Austin has seen an uptick in accelerators and venture firms focusing on diverse entrepreneurs.

  • DivInc launched in 2016 with a focus on helping early stage startups and underrepresented business owners to build their companies.
  • Four Austin startups last year received $100,000 in funding as part of Google’s Black Founders Fund.
  • Capital Factory also increased its efforts in recent years, investing in Black and underrepresented startup founders and launching a "Black in Tech" summit with opportunities to pitch judges and join its own accelerator program.

What to watch: Capital Factory will hold its 2022 Black in Tech summit today, where winners of the startup pitch competition will win investment cash, $100,000 in OracleCloud credits and a special NetSuite offering. Ploss is set to speak on a panel at 1pm.

  • "This makes sense on a lot of levels, but also I wanted to figure out a way that we can constantly engage with the community, and Capital Factory has been doing that," Ploss said. "That’s why they’re so integral to this mission."
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