Brooklyn Nets co-owner launches accelerator for BIPOC founders

BK-XL will invest up to $500,000 apiece in the 12 start-ups selected for its inaugural 2023 group.

Clara Wu Tsai, founder of the Social Justice Fund and co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty basketball teams, has launched BK-XL, a Brooklyn-based early stage start-up accelerator for BIPOC founders.

“Our intention is to identify the most innovative BIPOC founders and provide them with the funding and network support they need to build scalable and sustainable businesses,” Wu Tsai said in a statement. “With BK-XL, we’re bringing the best and brightest BIPOC talent to Brooklyn and giving them the same level of investment and access to resources that others have enjoyed for decades.”

The accelerator will invest up to $500,000 apiece in the 12 start-ups selected for its inaugural 2023 group.

The Social Justice fund will team up with Visible Hands, an investment platform and accelerator for early-stage, overlooked founders, to identify prospective start-ups.

In addition to receiving funding from BK-XL, selected founders will participate in a 10-week immersion program in Brooklyn during which they’ll receive office space along with ongoing mentorship and support from investors and operators at Blue Pool Capital, Visible Hands, BSE Global, the Brooklyn Nets, Barclays Center and other partners.

Just 2.4 percent of all U.S. venture capital raised from 2015-2020 was allocated to companies with Black or Latinx founders, according to Crunchbase. And, while funding for Black start-ups nearly tripled from 2020-2021, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, that funding is already nearly back down to pre-2020 levels so far this year.

Applications for BK-XL will open on December 5, 2022, with a close date of January 20, 2023. Selected companies will be notified by early March 2023 and the program is expected to begin in mid-April 2023 and run until late June 2023.

Wu Tsai is married to Joseph Tsai, who co-founded Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and ranks number 422 on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index with a net worth of $5.32 billion.

The Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation launched the Social Justice Fund in 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Driven by a $50 million commitment over 10 years, the Social Justice Fund has provided small-business loans to local BIPOC-owned businesses impacted by covid and provides grants to community leaders working to combat racial injustice.