Morgan Stanley

Multicultural Innovation Lab

Our in-house startup accelerator promotes financial inclusion and provides access to capital for early stage technology and technology-enabled companies led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs.

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By specifically catering to high-growth multicultural and women entrepreneurs, the Multicultural Innovation Lab presents a unique opportunity for disruptive startups to increase their visibility, accelerate their business and achieve success.
Carla Harris Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, and Co-Head of the Multicultural Innovation Lab

Our Mission


In our 2018 survey, investors reported capitalizing multicultural and women-owned businesses at 80% less than businesses overall, and our research shows this translates into roughly $4.4 trillion in missed opportunity. The Multicultural Innovation Lab, part of our Multicultural Client Strategy Group, is here to change that. Launched in 2017, and expanded to include founders in Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA) in 2021, the MCIL promotes financial inclusion and provide founders of tech and tech-enabled startups with much-needed access to investors—along with the tools, resources and connections they need to grow and thrive. The Lab’s mission is nothing less than to transform the investing landscape.



Key Stats

Interested in applying? While we’re not currently accepting applications, we will open applications for the Summer 2022 cohort in January 2022. Please sign up below to be notified when applications are open.

About the Program

Curated Curriculum

The Lab customizes a curriculum for each startup, including finance & sales strategy, marketing & branding, and private sessions with industry experts.

Mentorship That Makes a Difference

Morgan Stanley pairs each startup with hand-picked mentors who provide advice and counsel to help each company grow and scale its business.

Powerful Networks

We introduce startups to our bankers, financial advisors, technology experts and others who can connect each company to their industry networks. We also give them access to potential clients and the investor ecosystem at large.

Showcase and Demo Day

Our five-month program culminates with a Demo Day during which all participants can present to a network of investors, potential business partners and customers, who could help take their companies to the next level.

Anthony: My experience with the multicultural lab…

I was a little nervous in the beginning you know, they don't play when it comes to diligence. In the beginning I was really filled with anxiety. Am I gonna get in? Am I not gonna get in? And they were really drilling down on all the details.

Claire: The application process was rigorous. We went through several rounds and several interviews and the due diligence and financial statements and… it’s harder to get into this program than it is to get into Harvard.

Dennis: And then once the program started, you quickly realize day one, that there's going to be accountability because the first meeting you have as part of your weekly meetings, is goal setting.

Anthony: It's a nerve wracking meeting, because you're meeting with all these smart people at a table every Monday, and they're all zeroed in and focused on you. And every detail of your company. What did you do this week? What revenue did you bring in?

Tammy: I've really been able to share with them the good bad, the ugly and the super ugly. And they've been able to help me think through what makes sense in terms of next steps and plan in order to reach our goals.

Claire: Having people truly look at your business, offer advice, think about ways that you can conceptualize what you're doinG. They really are invested in your success.

Dennis: Everyone in the MCI lab wakes up every day, and thinks about how they can help me be successful. And that's a powerful thing.

Sheri: The thing that surprised me the most the amount of resources that we had access to, from introductions to executives to HR to classes and education on sales and marketing.

Claire: The access that we have to people in our industry who are really doing it and doing it well, who've raised several rounds and who've gone public, and having them available to you to either ask them questions or set up one on ones, I think that was the most surprising part.

Anthony: Carla Harris has been a phenomenal mentor to us. She was able to give us advice about a deal that we lost, and then how to carry ourselves out of that deal, how to respond to the client. We ended up winning that client back and it was arguably one of the largest deals that we've ever done in the history of our company.

Dennis: My mentor, she's made introductions and open doors for me from a partnership corporate standpoint that I certainly didn't have before.

Anthony: Being at MCIL definitely boosted my confidence on how smart I am about the business that I'm running, which is really important for any founder to be able to walk into any room or talk to any investor and know that you're the smartest person that can talk about this thing. This thing being your business.

Summer 2021 Cohort

CogniCor

An AI-powered digital assistant platform for the financial industry, automating and augmenting the efficiency of advisors and support teams of IBDs, Wirehouses, RIAs and insurance firms, enabling scalable operations and accelerating growth.

View CogniCor Website

Fyt Personal Training

An online platform that connects consumers who need help achieving their goals with the country's largest network of certified fitness professionals. 

View Fyt Personal Training Website

Lifesaver

A fintech company that provides a universal mobile banking application for financial institutions that lack cutting-edge digital solutions.

View Lifesaver Website

MedTrans Go

A tech-enabled patient optimization platform that aims to reduce medical appointment cancellations by providing patients access to medical transportation, interpretation services, Rx delivery and telemedicine services.

View MedTrans Go Website

Playlister Club

A music discovery platform that provides artists and labels with access to a community of “playlisters” (creators of music playlists) seeking to discover new songs and artists.

View Playlister Club Website

Productions.com

An online marketplace that connects pre-vetted production industry talent to employers in the entertainment and media industry.

View Productions.com Website

Sozie

A leading on-demand user-generated content (UGC) platform for brands and retailers to engage their employee and shopper communities to create rich product content.

View Sozie Website

Stimulus

A relationship intelligence SaaS platform that uses data & analytics to simplify how companies make purchasing decisions by offering vendor search, evaluation, selection & management tools.

View Stimulus Website

Team Leadership

Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor

Ms. Harris is Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm. Her 30-year career includes extensive industry experience executing many large initial public offerings, as well as one of the largest biotechnology common stock transactions in U.S. history. She has been named to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America".

Read Carla's Story Listen to Carla's Podcast, Access & Opportunity

Alice Vilma, Managing Director and Co-Head of the Multicultural Innovation Lab

Ms. Vilma has been at Morgan Stanley for more than 15 years and has over 20 years of investment banking, capital markets, structured finance and investing experience, executing over $25 billon of securitization, structured finance and equity transactions. She graduated cum laude with a B.B.A. in Finance from the University of Miami and received her MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Read Alice's Story

The Lab Experience

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

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Background and Basics

 

What is the Multicultural Innovation Lab?

The Multicultural Innovation Lab is an intensive five-month accelerator designed to help further develop and scale startups, culminating in a Demo Day and showcase presentation to the investor community.

When and why was the Lab started?

Morgan Stanley launched the MCIL in 2017 in order to address inequities in funding of multicultural and women-led startups, which our research shows totals more than a trillion dollars.

Who leads the Lab team?

Our team is led by Vice Chair and Managing Director Carla Harris and Managing Director Alice Vilma. Together, they have had over 50 years of equity syndicate, investment banking, capital markets and structured finance experience.

Where is the Lab based?

The Lab is based in our office at 522 Fifth Avenue in New York City. In October 2021, Morgan Stanley announced an expansion of the Lab to Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). EMEA MCIL offices are based at 20 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4AD.

Contact Us

For additional questions about our New York-based program, please use this contact to email us and we’ll get back to you shortly. For questions about our London-based (EMEA) program, please email us here.

Application Details

 

Who is eligible?

The ideal candidate will meet the following criteria:

  • Is a multicultural or woman founder, co-founder, CTO or other C-suite member.
  • Has founded a technology or technology-enabled startup that falls within the Seed to Series B funding round stage.
  • Has launched product with demonstrated revenues that validate the initial business model and market opportunity.

Do I have to live in or relocate to NYC or London to participate? How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the onsite aspect of the program?

We believe that the value of our program lies in part with the relationships built among the cohort and with the broader Morgan Stanley community. In the past, this required all participants to be on site in our offices for the duration of the program. However, to ensure the health and safety of all members of our program and community, Lab activities and events are operating on a hybrid remote and in-person model. We will continue to operate in a hybrid model, as long as it is prudent and responsible to do so, with the intent to return to full in-person programming as soon as possible.

When are applications open?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. We encourage interested applicants to apply early due to limited space and high application volume.

While we aren’t currently accepting applications, we will open applications for both our New York-based and London-based Summer 2022 cohorts in January 2022. Please sign up below to be notified when applications open. 

Do I have to lead a FinTech company in order to apply?

No. We look for technology or technology-enabled startups across a variety of sectors.

When will I hear back about my application?

We aim to target contacting applicants with next steps within one month after their application is submitted.

I’ve applied to the MCIL before. Can I apply again?

We absolutely welcome repeat applications and encourage previous applicants to keep in touch.

I am interested in applying to the London-based program. What else do I need to know?

The EMEA MCIL program will launch with a first cohort of five companies led by women or ethnic-minority founders in August 2022. The application period opens in January 2022.  

Contact Us

For additional questions about our New York-based program, please use this contact to email us and we’ll get back to you shortly. For questions about our London-based (EMEA) program, please email us here

What You Can Expect

Does Morgan Stanley invest financially in companies that participate in the Lab?

Yes. Morgan Stanley contributes $250,000 to each company participating in our New York-based program and £200,000 to each company participating in our London-based program in exchange for an equity stake.

What does the curriculum cover?

The curriculum is tailored to suit each individual cohort, but it generally includes such topics as branding your startup, developing your investor pitch, refining your value prop and devising effective finance and sales strategies. In addition, we offer participants the opportunity to meet with industry experts for one-on-one consultations.

What kind of mentorship will I receive from Morgan Stanley?

We pair each company with a Morgan Stanley mentor chosen specifically for their relevant expertise. Your mentor communicates with you regularly and can provide advice and counsel on company growth and scaling your business.

Will I be introduced to investors during my time at the Lab?

Morgan Stanley leverages its broad network of clients and investors on behalf of its Lab cohorts, making introductions and connections that aim to grow and scale each company’s business.

What is Demo Day?

Demo Day culminates the five-month Lab program, with each founder pitching to an audience of potential investors and clients.

Does the Lab team support its portfolio companies after the program is over?

Yes, we stay in contact with former participants and follow their successes, continuing to offer advice and support as needed.

Contact Us

For additional questions about our New York-based program, please use this contact to email us and we’ll get back to you shortly. For questions about our London-based (EMEA) program, please email us here

Interested in applying? While we’re not currently accepting applications, we will open applications for the Summer 2022 cohort in January 2022. Please sign up below to be notified when applications are open.