I’m a black man in America – it’s tough. Black founders, and black founders specialized in tech, are facing insurmountable obstacles.
As at least 1% of recipients of venture capital raising, institutional systems are clearly in play. Within about 10 years of my entrepreneurial journey, I have faced many failures and failures, because I have had successes.
However, I have pressed forward despite the inequalities that often plague the black entrepreneur community. From the imbalance in raising funds for minimum capital and access, the black glow and resilience has continued to grow.
Now, as a CEO who has ambitiously raised about $ 13 million for my current venture, against the odds, I believe that it is not the Black founders that are missing the most – it is the investors who are Are at a loss, do not understand they underestimated the power of the black talent of these founders.
Black founders should own their decency and take advantage of the power that results from their unique experiences.
When you think about the intersection of venture capital and technology, and especially how it works – it is being led from an engineering standpoint. Developers and coders visit historically specialized schools and colleges, entering a funnel that guides them to success.
Historically, many Black students (more Black male students) are influenced by sports as a vehicle for higher education and not necessarily accredited institutions for technical skills.
Their parents and community encourage athleticism because that is the only thing they know – reinforced over time as an institutional mindset. Unless they are directed into an accepted foundation for technology, or found at a Cal Berkeley, Stanford or Harvard, where many technology companies are built, they are immediately funneled outside the “circle”, Which sets the first of many ongoing constraints. For the founder of Black Tech.
I, however, think these “barriers” are not really obstacles but important catalysts for the superpowers of these founders.
Of course, there were no entrepreneurs in my family. I did not know about the best colleges. Despite graduating with great grades and honors, I was completely unaware of how valuable an Ivy League education could be.
As a star basketball player, with my skills and grades, I could graduate from a school like Yale, Brown, Columbia or even Southern Methodist University where I was awarded a full scholarship . But due to a lack of knowledge that I could actually do this and benefit from being inside the Ivy League “circle”, I did not.
I was in college from 2000 to 2007. During that time many big companies were started in elite schools. It is the institutional blocking of information from myself and many other black students that molded our overall perspective and formed our glass ceiling.
Shattering through that glass ceiling, to constantly move forward to overcome these obstacles, with no focus, and to interact with the types of investors I have to sit with the type of company , Which I have created, takes a different level. Talent that only black experiences can provide. For 2021 and beyond, Black founders need to not only recognize, but unlock that power as they watch their tech companies fundraise and catapult for success. This will be smart, and incredibly beneficial for investors, with venture capitalists and the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem in mind.
For Black founders, a paradigm shift is obvious, but it can only appear when implemented with these five methods.
Black Founders: Forget What You Think
Black founders and especially black tech founders are given a monotonous script to raise money “correctly” to highlight the lack of funding, highlighting the lack of funding – so much for the process There is a robot approach. They try to be this cookie-cutter entrepreneur, designed to raise money from investors what is ours By playbook and what is ours Rule.
Black founders affirm what society has done for proper fundraising, often glorifying the investor with the fate of the startup in their hands, without realizing that they hold the power of negotiation. His playbook won us no games. As of today, own their power.
Become an irresistible force: leverage your expertise
Set up the playbook separately and lean more into your expertise and uniqueness.
Years ago, Mark Cuban gave a keynote speech at Dallas Startup Week that paved the way for his success. His main point was to “know his business, and to know his business cold”. It was so simple, yet so impressive.
Early in my career, I learned about venture capital from my experiences working for a startup. While I was not deeply aware of this area, I mentioned that I picked up as much knowledge as I had during the years of my company. Although I was limited in my dealings with venture capitalists, I was convinced of my background and expertise (at the time as a payroll technology sales professional) to truly stake my claim and seat.
So while they could sell the company for $ 7 billion or have $ 35 billion in AUM (assets under management), I knew that they were not as well versed in payroll or payroll technology as I was. This was the hard mindset that caught me On Instead of investors UP For them, that has to take us on par.
Connect to the common goal of talent
As a black founder in tech, I have faced many injustices – from networking to raising money for business sports. Even among the people sitting at the table, there are worldwide interviews, political preferences, religious instincts and more that make a melting pot of division. However, recognizing that the common thread among all players in the game is the desire to be part of the spectacular business opportunity at hand, which will eventually prevail.
This made me understand well whether the venture capitalists did not like me or our differences. Locking my entrepreneurial ambition and focusing on my talent – my black talent – made them want to invest in me. Simplistically, investors want to give their money to founders who will give them money – zealous and ambitious. Be the one and find the investor who appreciates you.
Go in front of as many investors as you can
Black founders are not exposed to enough investors. Systematically, the venture capital landscape has marginalized this community and failed to expand its network for inclusion. Currently, ethnic minorities are severely underreported in the venture capital industry. Eighty percent of investment partners are white, with only 3% being black or African-American.
Regardless, black entrepreneurs must move forward and still be visible. The people that entrepreneurs face during the fundraising process are astronomical, so one should not avoid the disenchantment of opportunity.
In actual fact, it takes a long time to raise money. Period. I have spoken to thousands of potential investors to raise about $ 13 million for my current company. If you are a black founder, you are going to take longer to fundraise and you are going to be exposed to more people. So I ask, “Do you have enough oxygen in the tank that is needed to attract venture capital for enough time to withstand the obstacles?” Money does not say the difference.
When I first started the gig wedge, the number one question I got from investors was, “How much runway do you have?” I will reply, “Until I get where I need to.” They would then rephrase, “How much money do you have in the bank?” How long does your wife allow you to do this? “I will reply,” It does not matter how much money I have in the bank because I am going till this happens. “
Discriminatively, the expectation was that I lacked the financial level and stamina to cope with the fundraising process, and at times it was very discouraging – because to be honest, when I banked When I looked at the account, I actually had about nine to 12 months of runway.
Black people raise less than 1% of venture capital, as racism is entangled in the fabric of American society, which is entrenched in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Despite all this, I took thousands of meetings. I was willing to bear with an ambitious conviction that I was going to win. Again, this is Black talent.
Own Resilience, Own Power
As a black person, I have personally faced the challenges of building resilience, reflecting the same realities of other black men in America. Whether it is working with the police or witnessing my family’s struggles with drugs, violence, poverty or such – I often wonder, “Why would I be intimidated by an investor meeting or term sheet?” The making of America has done me very bad.
Black founders should own their decency and take advantage of the power that results from their unique experiences. The winning mentality that follows it is the kind of mindset that venture capitalists must invest in, and if they do not do so, they are undoubtedly missing.
“The focusing area of the world has piled up against me but I’m not going to leave. I’m going to pivot. I’m going to be resourceful. I’m going to find out – even if I’m scared , “There is a person you need to invest. It is not necessary that they have a business idea, but culturally, black people have a passion and an attitude unmatched with unmatched prospects, which venture capitalists are ignoring.
So for 2021 and beyond, Black founders, and in particular Tech, need to shift their respective paradigms that keep their place within the entrepreneurial space, take back their power and fully into Black Brightness Continue to work with. It is the investors, not the founders, who are missing. be bold. Be Courageous. Be adventurous.
For me, the best thing I can do right now is to keep the conversation going, illuminating inequalities and succeeding for black entrepreneurs, black professionals, and the world at large as much as possible. I own my power and I am committed to promoting and promoting Black Brightness.