Nguyen and her company are now engaged in a five-month-long program of networking, support and education opportunities to further her company. Jobgraze is a hiring platform for medical caretakers and service providers. It connects, for example, nurses with outlets looking for help.
The StartOut Growth Lab Accelerator is a business accelerator for LGBTQ+ founders of early-stage companies. StartOut, a nonprofit and the organizer of the Growth Lab Accelerator, partners with JPMorgan, and JPMorgan banks provide mentorship for those in the program.
The hunt for new members for the Growth Lab Accelerator can be described as exhaustive, according to Chris Davidson, the head of Growth Lab at StartOut. The 2023 search started with an international pool of more than 170 applicants. StartOut interviews a select group of these early-stage companies, examining the person, the company and the space in which the business interacts. Ten finalists were selected for this year’s program.
They chose Nguyen for three reasons: The humanity and individualism they saw in her interviews, the health care shortage her company is seeking to supply, and the medical staffing space is a smart, potentially profitable vertical, Davidson said.
“What makes my experience with StartOut Growth lab is that I feel supported,” Nguyen said. “And it’s important because whenever I feel like I have a need for some areas that I need to deepen my knowledge about that particular area as a tech startup entrepreneur, they have that available for me.”
That looks like access to financial resources, capital, mentoring, relations and supplier diversity opportunities. There have been 12 cohorts since the program started in 2017, totaling 66 startups that have participated in the accelerator, with $763 million raised from the program, according to a release.
Nguyen describes being part of the group as liberating.
“We can talk about our … personal life. And not it’s not always business, right?” Nguyen said. “When you like somebody, it makes a difference.”
It makes business sense for JPMorgan to partner with these companies, too.
“StartOut and Growth Lab, in particular, was a great fit in terms of our ability to tap into these LGBTQ+ businesses out across the country, and really bring those capabilities and resources to those founders to help them really grow and drive the business forward,” David Barbee, head of LGBTQ+ for JPMorgan commercial banking, said.
JPMorgan and a focus on diversity
JPMorgan is focused on serving diverse-owned businesses, including LGBTQ+ owned businesses, and developing one-on-one relationships to help remove barriers for them to grow and thrive as a business, Barbee said.
The firm is no stranger to investing in Tampa. It has made more than $4.5 million in philanthropic contributions between 2019 and 2023 in the area, including to the Tampa Bay Wave, according to a JPMorgan document and Allison Reed, executive director of communications.
“Tampa, Florida at large, we’re investing significantly there in terms of bankers who are focused on the innovation economy, the startup economy, and having bankers there on the ground that are there to develop those important one-on-one relationships,” Barbee said.
The next Growth Lab cohort will be in 2024, and StartOut is seeking LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs from the Tampa Bay region to be involved, Davidson said.
Alexis Nguyen earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, and her Master’s from the Keller School of Management