Impact matters. For Mountain Dew, this means more than just marketing to a community; it means actively supporting it too. To that end, Mountain Dew recently unveiled the Real Change Opportunity Fund, which will deliver crucial funding to ambitious Black entrepreneurs currently attending (or recently graduated from) Historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCUs).Inspired by the notion that no idea is too small, those with a bright idea who need funding should apply to this February’s “The Real Change Opportunity Fund Pitch Competition,” where aspiring entrepreneurs can formally pitch their ideas in front of a panel. Leading the Real Change judge panel is Blavity’s Chief Operating Officer Aaron Samuels, a Forbes 30 Under 30 rising star, entrepreneur and builder of community in both the real world and digital spaces. It’s an opportunity that he is thrilled to be a part of.
“We are excited for our partnership between Blavity Inc. and Mountain Dew,” says Samuels. “Black people have a history of innovation, creative genius and pushing the culture forward. But too often, we have been under-resourced and have lacked substantial investments. The Mountain Dew Real Change Opportunity Fund will provide recognition and investment in the amazing entrepreneurs coming from our HBCUS.”
Joining him on the panel is acclaimed music producer and cultural influencer DJ Envy, with some of the most noteworthy and recognizable names in startups and venture capitalism yet to be announced. This seasoned panel of “Doers” will select the top 50 applicants from a series of virtual pitches starting on January 21.
In addition to creating a platform for Black entrepreneurs to hone and highlight their businesses, the competition will ultimately give 10 finalists the chance to win a portion of a $1 million prize pool, with each HBCU represented also scheduled to receive funding. This is part of a larger initiative to break down the barriers and financial and societal hurdles that often limit Black business owners from pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams.
Mountain Dew knows this effort is long overdue. Vice President of Marketing Nicole Portwood says of their mission, “Mountain Dew recognizes the real need for actionable, tangible change and is committed to fueling what’s right as we seek to drive progress against the systemic racism and inequality faced by Black people in America.”
“We believe entrepreneurs exemplify everything that Mountain Dew stands for. They are the DOERS and the keys to building up Black-owned businesses, shrinking the historic wealth gap and broadening the potential for Black generational wealth. We hope to make a lasting impact as we provide resources, programming, funding and empowerment to the next generation through our partnership with this incredible network of HBCUs and launch of the Real Change Opportunity Fund.”
Young Black entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply as Mountain Dew continues to spread the word about this opportunity. Samuels hopes this initiative will create meaningful impact within the Black entrepreneurial community.
“To the young entrepreneurs out there with big ideas, The Real Change Opportunity Fund Pitch Competition is an opportunity to shoot your shot to people specifically interested in investing in you and to cut through limitations to propel your company forward,” he advises.
With the February competition approaching quickly, students and alumni must apply by the January 15 deadline here.
For more information about the Mountain Dew Real Change Opportunity Fund and for official rules, please visit mountaindew.com/realchange.
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Mountain Dew.