Tech

Grammy winning rapper Chamillionaire launches $100,000 competition for minority-founded start-ups

Key Points
  • Chamillionaire, E40 and Republic.co will be investing $100,000 in a minority or woman founded start-up.
  • "Shark Tank" investor Daymond John will join the team to help narrow the search and choose the best company.
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Grammy-winner 'Chamillionaire' on investing in minority-founded start-ups

Grammy-award winning rapper and investor Hakeem "Chamillionaire" Seriki announced Monday on "Squawk Alley" that he and hip hop artist E-40 will invest $100,000 in a minority or woman founded start-up company.

"Being an entrepreneur isn't easy, but it's even harder for minority and women led companies," Seriki said. "These people are solving new and unique problems and I think the only thing in their way is capital."

Seriki was an early Lyft investor and remains bullish on the stock, while holding investments in more than 40 start-up companies. He previously invested in Ring (acquired by Amazon), Cruise (acquired by GM) and Maker Studios (acquired by Disney).

But this competition comes as part of the investor-slash-rapper's larger push to bring awareness to a demographic of start-ups that he said have been historically underrepresented in the investment world.

Seriki highlighted the demographic divide in the venture capital landscape, citing a cultural trickle-down of funding from white male investors to white male led companies.

"When people say they can't find African-American startups to invest in, it just sounds a little crazy to me," Seriki said. "At one point I was getting 30 candidates a month, but when I said I only wanted to invest in women or minorities I started getting just two candidates a month."

Start-ups will submit their pitches on Convoz, a face-to-face social app launched by Seriki in 2016 to enhance public collaborative communication.

Pitches submitted via the app with be reviewed by Seriki, his team and Republic.co, an SEC-registered platform that makes investing accessible to non-accredited investors.

All start-up leaders from diverse backgrounds are encourage to apply, with one word of advice from the award-winning artist.

"We're not just talking about an idea. We're talking about a real company," Seriki said.

Seriki, E-40 and Republic.co will partner with "Shark Tank" investor Daymond John who will help the group narrow application to five finalists and choose a winner.

"I am so excited to be one of the judges in the $100,000 pitch competition," John said. "If you feel that you are ready to pitch and knock it out of the park, I can not wait."

The pitch competition will run from Nov. 11 to Dec. 6.