SoftBank Investment Advisers and WeWork launch EMERGE to support underrepresented founders

Program to power fourteen innovative founders through unique virtual programming and global network

SoftBank Investment Advisers (“SoftBank”) and WeWork today announced they have partnered to launch EMERGE, a virtual program focused on accelerating diversity in tech and entrepreneurship by providing unprecedented access to WeWork and the SoftBank ecosystem. 

Launched by SoftBank with support from WeWork Labs, WeWork’s incubating platform for early-stage startups, this equity-free, 8-week program will provide selected startups with access to the tools and network they need to scale their business. Our belief is that underrepresented founders often lack access to key networks and mentoring to scale their businesses, this program aims to address this gap and help bring more equality to tech and venture capital. 

“The EMERGE program brings together an exceptional cohort of founders who have been selected for their vision, creativity and potential to solve complex world problems,” said Jeff Housenbold, Managing Partner at SoftBank. “We are excited to collaborate with, and bring to life, the SoftBank ecosystem to help these founders turn their ideas into breakthroughs.”

“Now more than ever, small businesses and startups globally are being tested for their ability to adapt to the new realities our world is facing post COVID-19,” said Prabhdeep Singh, Global Head of WeWork Labs. “Launching EMERGE in partnership with SoftBank gives us the unique opportunity to combine our platform, network and resources to support innovative founders, and help them successfully develop innovative and impactful solutions. We are thrilled to be working with fourteen incredibly talented founders and can’t wait to see what they will accomplish.”

“Supporting underrepresented founders is a top priority for us, ensuring we see more diverse startups across the tech ecosystem,” said Catherine Lenson, Managing Partner and CHRO at SoftBank Investment Advisers. ” There is a lack of diversity in the sector as a whole, and we need to do more to address it. That is why we’re excited to launch this program and to see the positive impact that these inspiring founders will have.” 

Applicants for the first cohort were shortlisted and interviewed by an advisory committee, made up of SoftBank and WeWork executives, led by Dami Osunsanya, Vice President, SoftBank Investment Advisers and Elizabeth Scallon, Head of WeWork Labs, US West.

The program’s first cohort, which officially began on April 27, is made up of 14 startups. The advisory committee sourced and selected startups that are solving complex problems through innovative and scalable solutions. 

Emerge Cohort:

  • Aquagenuity, honored as “the world’s largest water database” by Google, Aquagenuity’s real-time AquaScore helps you find out “What’s In Your Water?
  • Bridge to College, choose colleges wisely by matching and providing data to them, high schools, and colleges.
  • Caldo, using flexible automation and mobile designs, enables satellite eateries with 3x the margins and no upfront capex.
  • GameJolt, a platform for gamers to follow 100K+ games while they’re still in development. 
  • Koniku, diagnosing disease by breath – A Disease Breathalyzer.
  • Mogul, supporting diverse talent and organizations to grow to their greatest potential, through technology solutions and inclusive community.
  • Moment AI, using AI to dive deep into a driver’s physicality to increase road safety.
  • Node, builds houses fast with their proprietary assembly kit. NODE addresses the greatest opportunity in construction, the massive decline in labor.
  • OjaExpress, an ethnic grocery marketplace connecting immigrants and foodies to local ethnic mom and pop grocery stores
  • Proven, personalized skin care powered by the smartest beauty AI on the plant, The Skin Genome Project, winner of MIT’s 2018 Artificial Intelligence Award. 
  • Rebellyous Foods, novel production stack for plant-based meat.
  • ScriptHealth, provides easy access to essential and life-saving RX medications.
  • SHYFT, builds IoT hardware and integrated software to connect and intelligently manage distributed energy resources.
  • SPS, an end to end cross-border payments provider out of North America, with ability to disburse funds into more than 80 countries.

The cohort will benefit from a unique and tailored accelerator experience through:

  • Access to Global Mentor Network: Startups will benefit from virtual 1:1 mentoring sessions with SBIA Operating Specialists as well as access to WeWork’s community of diverse entrepreneurs, mentors, subject matter experts, investors, and advisors. Startups will also regularly engage with SoftBank executives and its portfolio companies via online social and networking events designed to connect founders with leading investors and executives. 
  • Virtual Sessions developed by WeWork Labs and SoftBank Investment Adviser Execs: Startups will benefit from online workshops through this custom-built program and can engage virtually with their cohort, experts in the program and a larger global startup and mentor network. 
  • Access to the SoftBank Ecosystem: Startups will benefit from access to SoftBank executives, and portfolio executives through 1:1 mentoring, group sessions and fireside chats. 
  • Showcase Event: The program will conclude with an invite-only investor showcase event where founders will present their business model to key industry investors and SoftBank partners. 

For more information about the program, visit our website at wework.com/labs/emerge