Why Is It Important To Have Black Venture Capitalists?

See how a Pittsburgh firm, Black Tech Nation Ventures, champions Black-led start-ups and innovators of color across the country.
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“Not one of some 200 venture capital firms he approached said, ‘yes.’ Seven years later, the 39-year-old raised $68M in financing, one of the largest early-stage funding rounds ever for a Black founder.”
– Foundersuite 2021 on Donnel Baird, the founder of BlocPower

Before we hit you with a bunch of statistics, let’s start with the bottom line:

“Black founders are getting almost no venture capital funding and there are almost no Black VCs with decision-making power.”
– The Startup, 2020

The implication of this is that ideas generated by Black founders do not get funded. The result? Reduced economic inclusion and wealth creation for Black entrepreneurs. But it is not only the entrepreneurs themselves that are affected. The lack of funding for Black entrepreneurs and majority led Black startups leads to the loss of the multiplier effect for the larger Black community. It diminishes the collective influence on economic empowerment that would have otherwise emanated from these overlooked Black Founders.

The Center for Global Policy Solutions estimates that 1.1 million diverse/non-White owned businesses, nine million jobs, and $300 billion in income could be generated by fixing discriminatory financing practices. Said another way, the lending bias toward funding White males is costing the country dearly. It is logical to conclude that similar biases in the funding decisions made for venture capital are equally costly.

The Statistics

  • Blacks comprise approximately 2% of the ranks of startup executives bringing new companies to market, 3% of VC partners, and only five out of 160 VC firms surveyed have 2 or more Black investors. (Deloitte 2020)
  • Less than 1% of VC investors/LPs are Black and 81% of VC funds have no Black investors/LPs participating in their investor base. (Deloitte 2020)
  • >1% of VC dollars went to Black Founders in 2020. (Crunchbase 2020)
  • .0006% of total VC funding goes to women of color. (Entrepreneur.com 2020)
  • The typical Black entrepreneur starts a business with $35,000 versus his/her White counterpart that starts with $100,000. (University of California 2020)

These statistics are paradoxical for two reasons:

  1. Diverse founding teams generate higher median realized multiples on exit, whether via acquisition or IPO. (Kauffman Foundation)
  2. Homogenous teams based on ethnicity, gender or school attended generate returns that are 30%, 20%, and 11% lower respectively. (Kauffman Foundation)

Why is it important to have Black venture capitalists?

Invention and innovation drive the U.S. economy. Venture capital drives the commercialization of that innovation.  Successful commercialization results in wealth creation opportunities for the innovators and for the funders of that innovation (Harvard Business Review’s “A VC’s Guide to Top Black Founders,” 2021).

  • Access to venture capital is particularly important for founders of color who may not have the network of connections to source capital from friends and family (The Garage, 2021). The lack of diversity in venture capital impacts the founders who get funded and thus the types of business that are launched and that succeed.
  • The founders who have historically received funding have looked like the fund managers making the investment decisions. This misalignment with increasingly diverse consumers and with the associated market trends is creating significant investment opportunities for fund managers.

Both established funds and emerging managers will seek to capture these investment opportunities.  The most successful ones will accomplish the following:

  1. Acknowledge and eliminate the risk of unconscious bias that restricts restricting the funding made available to Black and diverse founders.
  2. Neutralize the mismatch in pattern recognition built around a history of advancing solutions from non-diverse founders for non-diverse markets (resulting in an increasingly more diverse market).
  3. Change the correlations in funding from aligning with race, gender, and where the founders went to school to aligning with fund values and the central question of, “Does this company fit our values and can it deliver compelling financial returns for all parties involved?”

How does //BTN Ventures fit into this story?

The lack of diversity in the venture capital industry exists at all levels: the fund manager level, the investor level, and the founder level.

  • //BTN Ventures views each of these gaps as a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge: Create access to capital for Black and diverse founding teams. The opportunity: Provide compelling returns to its investors.
  • //BTN Ventures, a majority Black-owned venture fund, is well on its way to achieving several of its major goals.  Over halfway to its $25 million first close, its investor base currently has as many Black investors as it does non-Black investors. Its deal pipeline comprises several “return the fund” caliber companies led by Black and diverse founders. It is exercising intentionality in building out its team of professional service providers to ensure they have Black or diverse team members.
  • //BTN Ventures’ aspiration is to democratize the access to capital and disrupt the trends in venture capital that have traditionally excluded Black and underrepresented founders. Leveraging a nationally relevant community organizations (Black Tech Nation) with a top quartile performing venture fund (Birchmere Ventures) positions //BTN Ventures to achieve its goal of “Profits and Purpose without Compromise”.Final Logo Tagline Yelloww Registered

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