ABQ’s Top Two Sectors That Need to Scale Now
By Kelli Cooper | Albuquerque Community Foundation
Finally, the Albuquerque economy is recovering from the recession. Our country is experiencing its most robust economy in recent history. Why not seize the chance to expand opportunities to all communities, especially the Hispanic and Native American entrepreneurs in our city who own a company and are ready to Start Up, Stay Up and Scale Up?
Albuquerque has two technology sectors that have potential for exponential growth, and it’s time to invest. I’m talking about software development and commercial space.
New Mexico has all the tools to become an innovation hub for these technologies. And with the commercial space industry estimated to be worth $2.7 trillion in the next 30 years, and software development as one of the most in-demand jobs in 2018, we can’t afford not to invest, inclusively.
Together with leaders from Albuquerque Community Foundation, New Space New Mexico, Ingenuity Software Labs, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, CNM, UNM Innovation Academy, Nusenda Credit Union, FatPipe ABQ and the BioScience Center, the Start Up, Stay Up, Scale Up initiative SU(3) is going to ensure that these fast-growing tech sectors reach into Native and Hispanic communities, providing tequity for traditionally marginalized populations.
Software Development is Key
Our plan is to focus on founders of color who are currently running software companies that have already gained significant traction and should be ready for investment. To ensure a continuing and growing pipeline of founders of color, a systems approach is required. The need remains to continue strengthening the local software development pathway and ecosystem to help more people of color enter the industry from the training, initial work experiences and industry expertise sides of the continuum.
The Next Frontier
Our plan is to capitalize on the rapid development of our city’s commercial space industry. New Space New Mexico, a group of public and private collaborators, is working to make our state an innovation hub for the emerging entrepreneurial and commercial space industry — and they’re working with SU(3) to build the ecosystem inclusively. After an initial field-scan, leaders will develop pathways for entrepreneurs of color, provide access, mentorship and network support.
Through our Navigator to Acceleration we will provide access to a network of professionals who will provide a suite of services to participants. We will focus on identifying gaps that become roadblocks impeding success for entrepreneurs of color and develop programs to permanently bridge those gaps.
Angel and venture investments are what will truly move the needle for founders of color. By providing the capital to hire more talent, acquire customers, invest in technology and purchase inventory/equipment, startups will grow much faster than would otherwise be possible. In a city the size of Albuquerque, only so many such founders of color are near or at that stage at a given time.
What if we were successful in this endeavor? Imagine Albuquerque as a national hub for software development: a diverse ecosystem, a robust population of diverse coders, and software companies with founders of color. Imagine the commercial space industry. We’ve successfully leveraged the unique assets already here and the diverse pool of talent to grow a radically inclusive ecosystem.
What if our success could become a national model for other cities to identify high-growth founders of color? They could then be connected to the capital and the resources of Start Up, Stay Up and Scale Up. This is a promising avenue to racial equity in the tech sector. It’s tequity—and integral to the economic growth of a healthy, functioning economy and reducing the racial income and wealth gap.
SU(3) is a project of Living Cities, a national foundation committed to closing racial gaps in income and wealth in the U.S. In collaboration with Rockefeller and Surdna Foundations, this 18-month program aims to assist local stakeholders, in creating and strengthening the environment that provides founders of color the capital and connections they need to thrive.
Connect The Dots:
From Chief Strategist, Robin Brulé: "We need to continually work to address gap areas in our ecosystem focused on building a more inclusive economy. The SU3 effort is an important part of investing in local entrepreneurs, and having the capital resources to do so.”
The Start Up, Stay Up, Scale Up SU(3) evaluation of Albuquerque’s business landscape helped clarify our understanding of the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The initial report showed us major blind spots and areas of growth. Armed with these findings, we’re ready to focus on supporting entrepreneurs of color in software development and the commercial space industry.