At Hillman, our team is dedicated to operating an inclusive entrepreneurship education program. We serve underrepresented tech-driven startups through mentorship, specialized curriculum, partnerships, and capital investments-- providing them the resources and guidance they need to scale.
As the Founder and CEO of Hillman, the first accelerator program in the Midwest providing support exclusively to this demographic, Candice Matthews Brackeen is passionate about bringing people from varying backgrounds together to accelerate innovation.
"I love it when other founders, funders and communities extend invitations to visit. No one has time to compete when there’s a common goal. It has been incredibly uplifting visiting and cross-pollinating with different cities across the country to help elevate women and tech founders of color"
— Candice Matthews Brackeen, Founder of Hillman
WHO QUALIFIES AS AN “UNDERREPRESENTED” FOUNDER?
Underrepresented founders include any humans having founded a business, who identify as part of a minority group which has traditionally been outside of access to funding. This includes people of color, women, and our friends in the LGBTQIA community.
DOES HILLMAN ACCEPT COMPANIES BASED OUTSIDE OF THE MIDWEST?
Yes. We accept applications from companies all over the country! However, we do require companies accepted into the accelerator to live in Cincinnati during our 12 weeks of programming.
WHAT ARE “TECH-DRIVEN” COMPANIES?
Tech-driven companies are companies that leverage technology to build their product or service (i.e. software, apps, and medical devices) or companies that leverage technology to manufacture or distribute their products or services (i.e. e-commerce companies, consumer product companies, and home services apps). Check out this article for a great breakdown on tech and tech-enabled companies.
WHAT DOES HILLMAN LOOK FOR IN ITS FOUNDERS AND PORTFOLIO COMPANIES?
We identify amazing people who’ve created scalable tech-driven businesses. Our companies are past the idea-stage and have working products, customers, and revenue. We also look for founders who reflect Hillman’s core values: Stewardship. Empowerment. Inclusion. Revolution.
Here’s a snapshot of what else we’re looking for:
-Tech-driven startups with women founders, co-founders, Chief Technology Officers, or with women in C-suite roles who have equity and tech-driven startups with founders of color, co-founders of color, Chief Technology Officers of color, or with people of color in C-suite roles who have equity
-Underrepresented founders who have successfully raised from friends and family, angel, crowdfunding, or seed rounds
-Launched products with demonstrated revenues that validate the business model and market
-A commitment to be based, full-time, at our Cincinnati headquarters for the duration of the 12-week program
WHAT IS HILLMAN’S APPLICATION PROCESS?
Our application process includes a company submission form, our official application, and video and in-person interviews. Get started by submitting your company here.
HOW MUCH DOES HILLMAN INVEST IN ITS PORTFOLIO COMPANIES, AND WHAT ARE THE TERMS OF HILLMAN’S INVESTMENT?
Hillman invests $125,000 in eight companies per cohort in exchange for 7% equity. Our founders also sign a Founder Agreement Form, which outlines expectations including attendance of all Hillman programming and events during their 12 weeks in Cincinnati, in addition to responsibilities around communications with Hillman staff and investors before, during, and after the accelerator.
DOES HILLMAN LIMIT ITS ACCEPTANCE OF COMPANIES TO SPECIFIC INDUSTRIES?
Hillman is vertical agnostic, meaning that we do not limit our cohorts to specific industries. Our portfolio includes companies building medical devices, fintech, advertising technology, consumer products, and technology for home services.
IS HILLMAN’S PROGRAMMING IN-PERSON OR VIRTUAL?
The majority of Hillman’s programming is in-person. However, founders can attend 25 percent of our programming virtually to accommodate personal, work, and family commitments.