Talent x Opportunity (TxO) is an initiative to support cultural geniuses who build solid businesses within their cultural breakthroughs. TxO Cohort 2 is the ten most promising companies that innovate within different industries, such as fashion, personal care, music, food, and content. After a successful first cohort launched in the summer of 2020, a16z announces a second selection to join and participate in the January-June ’22 session.
What Is a16z?
Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz founded the highly regarded California VC, a16z, in 2009. Andreessen and Horowitz created this Silicon Valley-based company to support entrepreneurs tapping into technology resources to build the future.
A16z invests around $28.2B in capital managed through biotech, cryptocurrency, and cultural leadership funds. This VC set funds in early to late-stage technology companies in consumer, business, biotech and healthcare, virtual currencies, and financial technologies.
What Is Talent x Opportunity (TxO)?
It is Andreessen Horowitz’s initiative to help accelerate the growth and impact of emerging technology companies. VC a16z launched the TxO fund to invest in traditionally underrepresented founders. They do this when they choose the best consumer ideas to generate cultural impacts. They select elite entrepreneurs who do not belong to large platforms where Silicon Valley investments exist.
Our goal with the TxO Initiative is to help emerging cultural geniuses by providing them access to a new system of funding, training, and mentorship that helps these entrepreneurs build durable, successful companies around their cultural innovations.Talent x Opportunity
They academically prepare each entrepreneur with the ideal tools to build and expand their company based on a16z’s own teaching experience. They have an extensive network of operators and executives to support the leaders of these projects. TxO takes ten months to complete online and ends with a virtual demo day.
2022 Welcomes TxO Cohort 2
During a months-long process, a16z evaluated hundreds of startups and selected ten companies with the best growth conditions to be part of Talent x Opportunity and participate in the January-June 2022 session of TxO University.
1. Hanahana Beauty
Abena Boamah-Acheampong’s founder started making skincare products with her friends in 2014. By 2017, she turned this craft into a business and launched Hanahana Beauty, a brand inspired by her Ghanaian heritage specializing in skincare. Abena created a brand focused on improving the economy of Ghanaian women and preserving the environment.
It’s a soap-filled pen designed for children to entertain while grooming themselves. Its founders, Amanat Anand and Shubham Issar, won UNICEF’s Wearables for Good Challenge with the premise of making cleanliness fun for children to battle infectious diseases.
3. Loan My Sole
Brandon Chance and Bryan Bastida founded a community linking shoe owners and renters to pioneer a circular economy for sneakers. Loan My Sole allows owners to monetize theIf you’re a sneaker enthusiast, you won’t want to miss the progress of this project.
Its founders, Brandon Chance and Bryan Bastida identified an exciting proposition in the niche of sneaker lovers: enabling contact between owners who want to make money by renting items from their collection and sneaker renters looking to have the experience of wearing these garments.
4. Shop Latinx
During a trip to South America, Brittany Chavez had to mobilize a community of emerging creators to showcase Latino brands. Under that premise, Brittany launched Shop Latinx two years ago, a space for buying and selling beauty items, clothing, and decorations. Everything is Latin-made and designed with Generation Z consumers in mind.
Daniela Vianna and Guilherme Verri created a cosmic startup. They have merged technology and astrology to explore physical and digital products that give their customers the experience they are looking for while searching for themselves, the discovery of the cosmos, and everything related to it.
This is a direct-to-consumer plant shop. Danuelle Doswell and Mignon are plant lovers. They claim that indoor plants have a positive and therapeutic impact by improving our air quality. This influences the flow of creativity and concentration while also reducing stress. To commemorate Earth Day 2020, they launched Grounded in honor of their passion.
As a student, Daryl Holman Jr. found himself frustrated by student loan liability, so he came up with the idea to help design platforms for Student Debt Crisis and Debt Collective, and also participated in a U.S. Senate panel on the topic, under his conviction that student debt cancellation is necessary. Daryl is launching Revival to help students pay off their debt.
8. Soapy Faith
Krystal, Michelle, and Brittney are three sisters who created specialty products for people with sensitive and eczema-prone skin. After a challenging personal experience, they launched the brand: Krystal survived breast cancer. This prompted them to build a property with family-friendly, eco-friendly, and female-empowering values. Soapy Faith is among the brands with the most exposure on Etsy.
9. Private Packs
Suzanne Sinatra, a Canadian Armed Forces veteran, and cancer survivor, created a brand specializing in the care of women’s private parts based on her own experience and a desire to bring to market a reliable product that would relieve pain in women’s intimate areas. Today, Suzanne has a patent for her flagship product and a distribution agreement with the CVS drugstore chain.
With the experience of immigrating from India to Queens, NY, and struggling to adapt to such a significant change, Trisha Sakhuja-Waliashe founded BrownGirlMagazine.com, a social media platform that allows South Asian immigrants to connect and their roots through multimedia content, culturally relevant products, and the creation of virtual affinity groups.
Keeping Track of the First Cohort Alumni
More than 1,200 entrepreneurs applied during the selection process for the first edition of TxO, only seven finalists were nominated for a $100,000 investment from the Tides Foundation, sponsor of the TxO Donor Advised Fund (DAF). The terms of this fund state that the entrepreneur agrees to give the Tides Foundation a 7% stake in the company in exchange for receiving the $100,000.
- Corianna and Brianna Dotson in 2009 founded Coco and Breezy Eyewear. They are designers and twins who made an explosive impact with just their first launches of clothing designs, attracting the attention of the entertainment and high fashion worlds, including exposure in major publications such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. They received a $100,000 investment through TxO. Next, they will raise over $1 million in a pre-seed investment round led by Reign Ventures, which has committed $500,000.
- Autumn Adeigbo is a black-owned fashion startup. They successfully established a foothold in Los Angeles after raising $1.3 million in investment. In addition, they just raised almost $3 million in funding, led by Offline Ventures.
- Oui The People was launched by Karen Young in 2015. She started her care brand with a single-blade razor and soon began positively impacting how women conceive their bodies. Since then, her line has expanded. According to PitchBook, in 2020, this company had raised $100K, and now they are in the Revenue Generation stage.
- Pamper Nail Gallery was founded by Vivian Xue Rahey, an Instagram influencer with over 375K followers on her account. It all started as a nail hobby but transformed into a brand that customizes press-on nails thanks to the talent of nail artists.
Music Apps & Streaming
- Breakr is a music app that connects emerging musicians with influencers on social networks. Musicians get exposure, influencers get paid for organizing a listening session during office hours, and the app, for its part, takes 10% of the revenue. During an initial funding round, the California-based VC, Slow Ventures, committed $4.2 million to the startup. The most recent fundraising followed a $700,000 financing from the TxO fund.
- Future Stream was founded by Javier Laval, who has had an authentic experience in the music industry of creating alongside great artists such as Nas, Notorious B.I.G., and others. This live music streaming platform allows artists to recover lost revenue after the cancellation of multiple shows during the Covid-19 pandemic. So far, the website has already produced virtual events by DJ Sneak, Roger Sanchez, and Da Baby.
- The Elite Donut is a high-protein doughnut maker that recently announced a $2 million seed round led by Siddhi Capital. Elite Sweets has a short-term goal of growing the brand. They are also researching reformulating the product and reducing preparation costs, and hopefully, they will be able to sell the product to retailers this year.
Ready, Get Set, Go
a16z is ready to start taking significant steps with the new students in a few days. Ultimately, TxO has captured the attention of many volunteers, donors, and mentors willing to get involved in an innovative tech growth ecosystem.
It is also hoped that many more generations of founders can be encouraged by keeping the return of profits generated directly to the support fund. a16z does not benefit from any of the returns, which, in many ways, is a philanthropic commitment.
We appreciate platforms like TxO, allowing startups to shine brightly. We believe that the more equal opportunities exist for all, the better. So we are excited to see how these projects develop and grow over the next few months.
This second cohort has already started, but if you are interested in this initiative, you are just in time to apply here for the next program in July.