Get ready to witness another blow to the digital divide at SXSW.

Urban Creatives Rapid Accelerator and $10,000 Pitch Competition is a new initiative that will be held during South by Southwest (SXSW) for minority entrepreneurs disrupting the television, film, music, arts and/or creative economy by harnessing the power of technology.

With support from  EBONY, Universal Music Group and We Work, the Urban Creatives accelerator features notable mentors to include Shawn Ullman and Quincy Jones III, founders of Feel Rich; Bryan-Michael Cox, Grammy award winning R&B producer; and Dame Dash, entrepreneur, music producer, actor and co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records. These innovators will serve as advisors to help finalists perfect their pitch and wow the  judges  Linda Johnson-Rice, Chairman Emeritus of EBONY Media Operations;  Ethiopia Habtemariam, President of Motown Records & President of Urban Music at Universal Music Group;and James Andrews, Chief Executive Officer of Smashd ventures.

Urban Creatives is an extension of the initiatives facilitated by Austin-based, Urban Co-Lab, a social venture transforming under-served neighborhoods through job creation, internships, and inspiration.  Urban Co-Lab founder &  Natalie Cofield spills about the program and offers some tips for pitch competitions. Make sure to read to the end to find out how you can apply and compete.

Q: What is Urban Co Lab?

NATALIE COFIELD: Urban Co-Lab is a social mission company established to provide impactful and community-conscious programming, engagement, and strategies to empower entrepreneurs and economies. The organization’s core areas of focus include entrepreneurship ecosystem development, diversity and inclusion and community development. For more information visit:

Q: What does tech inclusion mean to you?

NATALIE COFIELD: Black and brown founders make up only 2-3% of the population in tech. Women of color, represent an even smaller percentage of the community with 1% representing the space. Yet despite this, countless studies have shown that minority communities over-index in technology usage. To me, exclusively as it relates to entrepreneurship – tech inclusion means shifting the paradigm of consumerism to creation within the tech economy.  It also means changing how we define tech startups and encouraging more technology adoption and integration amongst more traditional businesses.   Every business can benefit from understanding and leveraging technology.   And lastly, tech inclusion is about establishing the pipeline of funding to support entrepreneurs, old and young, who are seeking to create within the new economy.

Q: How did Urban Creatives get started?

NATALIE COFIELD: EBONY magazine and Urban Co-Lab have both made waves in putting together initiatives to encourage creative individuals and people of color to pursue entrepreneurship. Both organizations realize how difficult it can be for  entrepreneurs or color entrepreneurs of color to find funding.  As such we wanted to put together a program that both supported the entrepreneurial mission of EBONY as a creative media company and the mission of Urban Co-Lab to empower urban communities through entrepreneurship and economic advancement and alas Urban Creatives was born.   Urban Creatives manifests our shared goals by giving creatives the platform to both gain seed funding and visibility.   Our focus through this effort is to support creatives in a myriad of industries from media to arts and culture, to television and film to beauty and fashion who are integrating technology to create their new business.

Q: How does the application process for Urban Creatives work?

NATALIE COFIELD: Interested applicants visit our website at and upload their application and fee. From there we will identify finalists to participate in a week-long virtual rapid accelerator including engagement with industry-leading mentors. Those selected teams will also compete for funding to launch or scale their creative businesses at the inaugural competition held on March 12, 2017, at WeWork Congress in Austin, Texas.

Q: What are your tips for pitching during a competition such as Urban Creatives?

NATALIE COFIELD: Be confident.  Have a solid idea and a roadmap on how you plan to achieve it.   Be passionate, people are inspired by your interests and are more inclined to support someone they feel has the energy and enthusiasm to withstand the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.  Be professional.  And most importantly, just try.  You never know, you might just win $10,000 and even if you don’t, you’ll may be put in front of influencers that may have resources needed to make your dreams a reality or the reason you always needed to get back on your grind.

SXSW Contest Urban Creatives