'I Know the Struggle': Former NWA Artist Launches a Startup Accelerator Aimed at Non-Unicorns

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

'I Know the Struggle': Former NWA Artist Launches a Startup Accelerator Aimed at Non-Unicorns

Arabian Prince, a founding member of the rap group N.W.A., is behind a new Los Angeles incubator aimed at tech founders from underserved communities.

The musician-turned-entrepreneur launched Incub8next on Monday with Art+Logic co-founder Paul Hershenson, health-tech expert Matthew Walk and Aj Kang, a DJ with marketing experience.

The crew calls their project a social impact incubator, and it's looking for entrepreneurs building tech startups from a range of backgrounds, like "the intrepid single mom with a parenting product ready for marketing" or a "preventative health app developer in need of FDA approval," the founders said in a statement.

"There are people who have never gotten the opportunity but have everything else they need to succeed in business," Arabian Prince said in the statement. "With my background, I've conjured things out of thin air to make money. So I know the struggle."

The Compton-born rapper's career in tech has spanned video games and animation. Last June, he unveiled his Covitech project, a cloud-based suite of apps designed to safely usher employees back to work at a time when small-to-medium businesses struggled to get a hold of PPE and testing resources.

It was created by the Incub8next co-founders — before the group built an incubator.

"It became very obvious to everyone that the pandemic was having unequal effects on people," Hershenson told dot.LA. "In particular, people of color in minority communities were taking the brunt of everything. Where people like me were able to sit comfortably at home, carry on and do our work really as if nothing had changed."

Once a COVID-19 vaccine was approved, Hershenson and his team sketched out a more "sustainable" project that could serve communities even after restrictions and stay-at-home orders were lifted.

"This is the reinvention of Covitech for a post-pandemic environment," Hershenson said.

Landing a spot at Incub8next means access to mentorship, fundraising help and marketing support. Individuals and teams will be accepted on a rolling basis and can now submit inquiries.

The program meets weekly by Zoom for three to five weeks.

Hershenson said the incubator will probably take between 5% to 10% stake in each company. The co-founders hope to reach a deal with their first participant by the end of this week.

"We are looking at a new wave of entrepreneurship in the world," Walk said in a press release. "While the 'unicorns' are out there getting press and IPOs, there is a massive opportunity for 'small' businesses to reach revenue of $5-100 million and be wildly successful without ever becoming a household name.

"These are the businesses I want to discover and be a part of."


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David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

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