Our mission

EGK Starters’ mission is to provide transformative learning and mentorship experiences to early-stage BIPOC startup founders to position them to raise capital and partner with investors in implementing strategic initiatives to fund more BIPOC-led startups.

What we do

EGK Starters is a design-led, accelerator-like program for BIPOC-led startups. Our inaugural cohort will consist of BIPOC-led startups based in Birmingham, AL. Our job is to challenge the BIPOC founders to position their businesses to meet a global need and work with them to outline steps to sustainably grow from a local customer base to a national or international audience.

We are an international team of researchers at Cornell University and Northumbria University studying the current VC landscape and the impact of design-led initiatives on the allocation of angel/VC funding. Our aim is to recommend data-driven courses of action that may guide future initiatives in allotting angel and VC funding to early-stage BIPOC-led startups based on our findings.

How we got started

Our founder, Anthonia Carter, completed a Fulbright fellowship in the United Kingdom at Northumbria University in 2017-18. There, she was a co-researcher on the Get Ready to Innovate (GRTI) project. GRTI was developed by Northumbria Design faculty and focuses on employing design thinking to enhance strategic innovation readiness for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). GRTI is a series of individualized, design-led, action-focused workshops.

The first session, the Triage, focuses on underlying the business basics of each company. Some of the questions she asked UK-based SMEs were: What is your product or service? Who are your customers? How does your business generate revenue? What are your ambitions for the company: when you started versus now? Insights from this data enabled Anthonia to identify key areas for exploration through subsequent Design sprint activities. In the Design sprints, she used a range of innovation tools to help business owners focus their knowledge, resources, and skills to solve the challenge. Anthonia enjoyed witnessing these business owners gain the confidence to pursue innovation opportunities. Upon returning to the US, she had a strong desire to bring this impactful work back to her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.

In 2020, Anthonia, currently a doctoral student at Cornell studying equitable ranking and recommendation systems on online investment platforms, applied for and was awarded the IIE Centennial fellowship to launch EGK Starters, and here we are today. Through EGK Starters, we are using the GRTI framework as a starting point to support early-stage, BIPOC-led startups to produce new ways of creating value that leads to high-growth and scalability.