Advising Matchmaking: behind the scenes with Path 2 Cash 

Path 2 cash, our one-on-one advising workshop for capital-seeking businesses is almost here. 

Behind the scenes during Path 2 Cash selection time. 

Behind the scenes during Path 2 Cash selection time. 

This year’s cohort is bigger than ever, featuring over 50 entrepreneurs and 25 hand-picked advisors. While Path 2 Cash is a one-day, half-day session hosted at the Mills College Lorry I Lokey School of Business and Public Policy, the preparation involved in creating and hosting the session takes is a many-week process.  

Here’s how it happens: 
After receiving many online applications to Path 2 Cash through our online portal, the Entrepreneur Services team sorts, organizes, and categorizes the applicants by need, industry, business size, along with a few other metrics. The team, aided by our two MBA fellows, evaluates each company, strategizes on the best opportunities for advisor engagement, and make a short list of accepted companies, their needs, and potential advisor matches. 

There’s an advisor for that; the matchmaking process is the way ICA Fund Good Jobs companeis get the support they need.

Baba Afolabi talks with Ingrid Jacobson at Path 2 Cash 2016. 

Baba Afolabi talks with Ingrid Jacobson at Path 2 Cash 2016. 

Our advisors really meet the entrepreneurs where they’re at. Raising capital is complicated, and everyone’s needs are different.
— Nina Robinson, Senior Program Manager
Chinwe Onyeagoro at Path 2 Cash 2016. 

Chinwe Onyeagoro at Path 2 Cash 2016. 

Path 2 Cash participants are companies that are looking to secure capital within the next 12 months and that demonstrate a commitment to the creation of good jobs. But their specific needs diverge greatly. Some companies are looking for ways to speak more clearly about their business by the numbers, and others are looking to identify the best types of capital for their business stage. Others still have a clear path towards investment but need support on compiling and presenting the right type of financial documents. 

“Our advisors really meet the entrepreneurs where they’re at. Raising capital is complicated, and everyone’s needs are different.” says Nina Robinson. Our advisors are hand-picked by our team to match the needs of our entrepreneurs and to provide expertise relevant to their industries.  

The team organizes a series of conversations with the entrepreneurs before the Path 2 Cash session to dive in to the issues they need most help with. Relying on an amazing network of talented advisors, to provide realtime, practical, and actionable advice. 

The end goal is that when Path 2 Cash happens on July 12th, the entrepreneur and advisors know each other. The entrepreneurs are able to vocalize their needs, and the advisors have an intimate understanding of the small businesses they are supporting. 

And the rest happens at Path 2 Cash. 

Four Growth Strategy Lessons from Diishan Imira 


Diishan Imira, Founder and CEO of Mayvenn, recently spoke to entrepreneurs in our Growth Strategies course. Diishan, an Oakland native founded Mayvenn in 2012 and is making waves in the African-American hair industry, an industry valued, according to Diishan, at more than $9 billion. 

Mayvenn sells hair extensions through a network of stylists-cum-brand ambassadors and is dedicated to “changing the way people purchase hair extensions” and to empowering local stylists in the process.

In conversation with Michael Bush, Diishan talked candidly about finding your way as a business leader, shared lessons learned in closing his Series A venture capital funding round, navigating the VC world as a Black CEO, and discussed his work to “bring the Black beauty dollar back to Oakland”. 

Mayvenn has closed over $10 million in venture capital investments, has recently entered a phase of extreme growth, and is empowering hundreds of individual stylists to make money in the process. Yet the Mayvenn story is particularly inspiring because of the combination of hustle and humility that drives its founder. And because so many of the lessons that Diishan shared, are applicable to all entrepreneurs. 

Know your community and get immersed.
Early on in his career at Mayvenn, Diishan spent time in China learning the language, getting to know his suppliers, and understanding the business process. The time allowed him to understand what it’s like to be immersed in a new environment and what it takes to find your way in an uncomfortable position. These lessons proved useful when he was pitching Mayvenn to investors in Silicon Valley. Diishan recounts that he quickly realized that even with his MBA and business expertise, in Silcon Valley he was an outsider. So he needed to speak the VC language. Again, he became immersed in the Silicon Valley culture, began understanding its quirks, its ins and outs, its notoriously closed circles, and doing everything he could to learn its ways. 

Diisahn Imira speaks to the Growth Strategies class. 

Diisahn Imira speaks to the Growth Strategies class. 

The learning paid off when Mayvenn closed a seven-figure investment from Andreessen Horowitz, one of the premier venture capital firms in the country. Yet, critically, Diishan points out, that no matter how proud he is of his accomplishments (securing funding from Andreessen was an early goal of his), he’s always kept his mission and community at the forefront and remained true to his values. 

Trust and empower your people. 
As Michael points out in the 8 Factors, values should drive who you hire. And when you hire the right people, you can be confident that they have your company’s best interests in mind. Diishan spoke about resisting the urge to be involved in every decision and knowing when to remove yourself from the decision making cycle. Trust the organizational structure you’ve put in place and let others do the job you’ve entrusted them with. 

Trusting your internal team to make decisions builds leadership and strengthens the culture of your organization. 

Know your values and take risks. 
Company culture is critical to its success. In fact, much of the Growth Strategies is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs cultivate it. But just because you spend time cultivating a culture at your business, doesn’t mean that it can’t shift. 

As CEO, Diishan shared, he has to make difficult decisions, particularly now that Mayvenn has taken on investment and is undergoing rapid growth, he has to make decisions that may be unpopular with his management team. As Diishan says, culture is malleable and while you should always stay true to your organizational values, you can shape to fit the current needs of your company. 

Empower others. 
As he’s grown as a CEO, Diishan says one thing Michael teaches has always stuck with him: in order to have true success, you have to empower others to be financially successful. Diishan makes no bones about the fact that growing his business is of utmost importance, but maintains that a critical piece of his company’s mission is about bulding a platform where others can make money in the process. 

This lesson is true whether you have a network of stylists selling your products or are looking to hire, retain, and cultivate the right employees by providing them with the career ladders they need.  

Diishan modeled for the 60+ entrepreneurs participating in Growth Strategies that growth-minded leaders hold onto the hustle that got them to where they are, and step into the shoes of the vision they are moving towards. With the mission as his compass, Diishan is creating jobs intentionally for those inside his company and in his community. 

You can find Mayvenn on Facebook and follow Diishan on Instagram. And stay in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too. 

6 ICA Fund Good Jobs Companies among Indie Awards Winners!

The Oakland community celebrated the Eleventh Annual Oakland Indie Awards last week. The awards ceremony, mixer, and celebration, held at the Oakland Museum of California were hosted by the Beneficial State Foundation and were a testament to the energy, community, and positive impact of our local entrepreneurs and independent small business owners. 

Pollinate Farm and Garden, a 2017 Greenie Award Indie Award winner and an ICA Fund Good Jobs Education company.  

Pollinate Farm and Garden, a 2017 Greenie Award Indie Award winner and an ICA Fund Good Jobs Education company.  

Town Biz won the Ripple Effect award at the 2017 Indie Awards. Town Biz is an ICA Fund Good Jobs Education company. 

Town Biz won the Ripple Effect award at the 2017 Indie Awards. Town Biz is an ICA Fund Good Jobs Education company. 

The ICA Fund Good Jobs team joined friends, supporters, and hundreds from the local small business community at the awards. 

And we were even more excited to see six ICA Fund Good Jobs past and present companies on stage as Indie Award winners! 

The ICA Fund Good Jobs companies in the winners circle:

And of course a big, heartfelt congratulations to all of the inspiring nominees and winners of the 2017 Oakland Indie Awards. 

PS: Mamacitas Cafe has a Kickstarter to help fund their new location! Support them now:

Our 2017 Impact:

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 11.52.09 AM-15.png

Our 2017 Impact Report is here! 

The rapid changes taking place across the Bay Area make Oakland a critical testing ground for our mission. Ours has become the fastest growing city in the nation, with the highest annual rent increases, and the top ten “hottest neighborhoods” in the Bay Area.

It comes as no surprise that this radical shift has strained local businesses and longtime residents. Our work to help entrepreneurs create accessible good jobs is more important now than ever before.

In 2016, we served more than 140 companies through educational offerings like Path 2 Cash, Growth Strategies, and Start Up Strategies. We also launched our first ever Good Jobs Accelerator. Moreover, by leveraging a more structured service model, our dedicated pro bono advisors increased the time they spent supporting entrepreneurs by nearly 30%.

Though we are proud of our impact over the last 20 years, our model for the 20 years to come must be more responsive, more sustainable, and more scalable. We are poised to double down on our track record and learn in a deeper way. 

As we envision the next 20 years of ICA Fund Good Jobs, we are grounded by the incredible impact of our entrepreneurs, the unwavering support of our partners, and the enthusiasm and innovation of our team. Together, we will build an equitable economy, where everyone has access to a good job. 

And now, I encourage you to read our newest Impact Report, to read the stories of our entrepreneurs, and to learn more about our work. And if you'd like to get a printed copy of the report, we'd be happy to send you one. 



Sean Daniel Murphy, CEO


Back to the Roots Teams Up with Carmelo Anthony

Exciting news out of Oakland (and New York!):

Our very first investment company, Back to the Roots, has just teamed up with NBA All Star Carmelo Anthony to promote healthy eating in New York City schools as part of its #TakeBackBreakfast campaign! The company's cereals which come, in four flavors and feature a maximum of four ingredients, will be available to more than one million kids in the New York City school system.

We've worked with Back to the Roots since their beginning. In fact, in 2014, Fund Good Jobs was the first investor the company which last year secured a $10,000,000 Series A funding. We're extremely proud of Alejandro and Nikhil and the entire Back to the Roots team – their growth, vision, and values – and we're even more excited to see where their journey takes them.  

Growth Strategies Starts April 28th

Spring is always an exciting time at ICA Fund Good Jobs. April is the time when we get to meet the many exciting new companies that are joining us as part of our signature small business education course, Growth Strategies. The 2017 iteration of Growth Strategies kicks off at the Lorry I Lokey School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College two weeks from today, on April 28th and we can hardly wait. 

By now you probably know that the Growth Strategies, is taught by long-time entrepreneur and educator Michael C. Bush and that it offers a practical, hands-on, and actionable curriculum for local small businesses. You’ve probably heard us refer to it as the “entry point to the ICA Fund Good Jobs network” or as a “mini-MBA” for entrepreneurs. So this time, we want to tell you a bit about some of the companies in this year’s cohort. 

Last year, the 2016 Growth Strategies cohort created and retained over 400 jobs and saw job growth increase, year over year, by close to 70%. 
Michael C. Bush teaches Growth Strategies.

Michael C. Bush teaches Growth Strategies.

There are around 50 companies joining Growth Strategies 2017, spanning a variety of industries, headquartered in a over a dozen Bay Area cities. Together companies like Apprenta, Civil Pops, Yahshi Bakes, and Courtsmith Basketball Industries, to name a few are projecting to create over hundreds of jobs. 

Growth Strategies is an integral part of our mission to educate, accelerate, and invest in local small businesses. In fact, all of the Seed Fund and Accelerator companies have gone through ICA Fund Good Jobs Education And this year, Good Jobs Accelerator companies like 4505 Meats and EBY Construction will be sending leaders from their teams to join the series. 

We look forward to keeping you up-to-date on this year’s cohort, and you can always learn more by checking out our upcoming Impact Report, and stay connected by following us social media! 

Check out this video by Growth Strategies 2017 company Courtsmith Industries.