Photo credits: Kevin Winter/WireImage
An award-winning Executive Producer and heralded young broadcasting phenom’s core enterprise just made history as a new Wall Street and Big Tech beneficiary.
Angel Nicole Livas (pictured) is the founder and CEO of the ALIVE Podcast Network (APN), a collective of superstar storytellers. Featuring web-based shows hosted by Tamar Braxton, as well as Livas herself, APN is exhibiting itself as a staple when it comes to genuinely representing the experiences of African American women in business and beyond.
Livas and her operation are based in Washington D.C. She recently announced that her APN entity is one of the beneficiaries, which got a percentage of an $80 million dollar fund – managed by the Techstars venture capital group via the fundraising efforts of J.P. Morgan’s private equity branch. These two financially gargantuan corporations have a mutual interest.
Their collective intrigue involves the mass production of “accelerator programs,” which they hope will bolster the growth of a select number of U.S.-based woman and minority-owned businesses. This initiative is also centered on supporting a more diverse entrepreneurial sector that benefits from funders practicing inclusivity.
In her exclusive interview for this publication’s “Black to the Future” segment, Livas discusses her latest honor, the importance of the jointly-orchestrated Techstars and J.P. Morgan program, which aims to put a dent in America’s race-based entrepreneurship gap. The historic producer of Emmy Award-winning journalists also explained her plans to further grow the Black woman-owned businesses and brands currently under the APN’s umbrella. Livas has a winning track record, which has primed her firm for future greatness.
The official transcript of my interview with her can be read below. (Editor’s Note: This interview has revised for length and clarity.)
1. Being included in an $80 million dollar vision for business development is a big deal. Would you say a Wall Street shark and a big tech venture capitalist firm came knocking on your door first, or was this inheritance won through a masterful pitch on your part?
ANL: There was definitely a competitive process that went into [the APN] becoming a recipient of funding for [the J.P. Morgan and Techstar-backed] accelerator programs. Preparation in the application process was strenuous. But when official confirmation from [the funders] first came, they expressed genuine interest in our network. Being included in such a historic investment effort motivated us to embrace the competitive process. The team effort and hard work put in was an exhibit of our resolve and years of quality experience.
2. I had the pleasure of covering a sisterly colleague of mine named Lauren Anderson — a Las Vegas-based tech industry recruiter who also closed a historic September 2020 deal with Advantage Capital. Still, the overall numbers reveal that mainstream investment in Black tech-based entrepreneurship could be better-especially when you look at how much money Black innovation and culture are generating for moneyed circles of the establishment. Being a trailblazer who most certainly earned her opportunity, what do you think is the real catalyst for the funding difficulties being experienced by black-owned start-ups?
ANL: A lot of times, people are investing in the person that’s creating business. They focus their investment plans on the businessperson who they’ve gotten to know. When you come to them with your plans for a great idea, they know your character. They know that you’re going to pay them back in a timely fashion if their investment is signed as a loan. They know you’re “good people” and also passionate about what you’re building. [In a contrary situation], they’ll also know your bad habits. So, you have to be honest and forge those relationships [with funders]. It’s a matter of knowing who your business banker is. I remember who mine was when I started and needed a loan. To this day, we have a good relationship that’s been mutually beneficial for years. Trust and integrity are vital.
3. I’d like to hear you speak on your illustrious background in broadcasting and news media. Additional research helped me find some amazing highlights of your career. The Washington Business Journal named you as a list member of its coveted “People on the Move” club. In my view, your consistent readiness appears to be the antidote to your tangible and intangible victories. What do you think are the most important things that led to the level of preparedness you have now?
ANL: For me, staying grounded and having quality preparation for any success that’s earned has come from my willingness to remain a student. I’ve always taken on the role of an “I want to learn” mindset. I don’t know it all. But what I do know where my favor goes. Being a product of Howard University and fostering the relationships I built there gave me the ability to advance in my corporate career (at NBC, Bloomberg, AARP, etc.). AARP, in particular, was where I spent the most time in corporate America. It’s where I channeled the vision for my own company. ALIVE is one of my newer companies…it’s literally my baby…just seven months old. It’s geared toward amplifying Black voices. One of the APN shows I’m working on is with Tamar Braxton. We’re genuinely growing our network.
4. Are you at liberty to, in your own words, to discuss what you understand to be the strategic joint J.P. Morgan and Techstars vision for their accelerator programs? Is this a regional or national effort?
ANL: Techstars is a really big company. I’m not aware of where their focus is specifically. I do know that Techstars has an effort that is definitely national – the company website talks about some of the major cities and business they’re working with…I’m not privy to all the details though. When it comes to J.P. Morgan, however, I can tell you specifically that they are engaged in a national effort, which involves a number of U.S. cities (Detroit, Washington D.C., etc.) with sizable Black populations that are on pace to benefit from their accelerated programs. More information about J.P. Morgan’s efforts are also available online.
5. In closing, I’d like you to give our readers and viewers some insight into the wonderful platforms you have within your framework for the ALIVE Podcast Network. I see some notable figures are involved, such as R&B superstar Tamar Braxton and others. What does the future look like for what the official website calls “the BLACK Spotify?” I like that, by the way.
ANL: Well, at the ALIVE Podcast Network, we’re already on pace to meet our fall goal of gaining 100,000 total subscribers. You can go to alivepodcastnetwork.com and sign up for our “ALIVE Alerts.” They’ll be available on iOS and Android. Once again, our goal is to create content made by Black people that speaks for Black people. Through producing such content, we seek to drive our empowerment in lockstep with promoting successful business.