From RICHMONDINNO By Eileen Abbott

757 Accelerate Executive Director Evans McMillion

Hampton Roads’ 757 Accelerate has selected the next cohort of companies to participate in its upcoming program.

Five of the accelerator’s nine companies hail from Virginia, including Richmond-based Grantable.

757 Accelerate is a non-profit accelerator program that speeds up startup success through mentors and other supportive resources. The purpose of the cohort is to help innovators succeed, which will strengthen the region’s economy when the new businesses flourish.

Grantable founder and Chief Executive Officer Philip Deng said he’s appreciative of the opportunity. Grantable’s technology helps strengthen the quality of grant writing while making the process less time-consuming.

“The opportunity to participate in 757 Accelerate comes at an important time for our company and allows us to fine-tune our strategy to both launch our software and build Grantable as a company,” Deng said.

757 Accelerate Executive Director Evans McMillion said many pieces are involved when a founder launches a startup, and it’s easier and more effective to build a company when leveraging a deep bench of mentors and support.

“We become hub and a connection for resources that do make a difference,” McMillion said. She described 757 Accelerate as a “super-connector” that creates a network where people can find and inspire each other in an “interconnected, inclusive, and impactful” environment.

This is the accelerator’s fourth and largest cohort to date. Programming kicks off on Aug. 30. McMillion said founders will have access to mentors, investors and a breadth of resources, as well as $20,000 in non-dilutive capital.

This is especially important for underrepresented founders who may not have access to these opportunities otherwise, McMillion said. 757 Accelerate is focused on building an inclusive environment that supports all founders, including women, BIPOC and military veterans.

Seven of the nine cohort startups, chosen out of 155 applicants, have at least one underrepresented founder on their teams.

McMillion said, the programming is founder-focused.

“Asking them what they need rather than telling them has been really impactful,” she said. “It creates a lot of goodwill in the community, and then people see you as a resource, and you can help them grow faster, better.”

The 12-week program will take place at the newly opened 757 Startup Studios, an incubator dedicated to innovation and entrepreneurship, located in Norfolk’s Assembly building.

Deng said he can’t wait to get started.

“I’m eager to work with the 757 Accelerate team, the mentors and my fellow cohort companies to build relationships that help each of us to make progress,” he said. “Grantable is very grateful for this chance to deepen our roots in Virginia.”