In just about five minutes, McKeever “Mac” Conwell II laid before sitting federal legislators a case for empowering founders and funders from marginalized backgrounds that has underscored much of his career.
The Baltimore-based managing partner of RareBreed Ventures, a pre-seed fund aimed at founders working outside of the most known and most cash-rich tech hubs, delivered this case while testifying at a hearing of the US House of Representatives Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets. The session revolved around seven bills related to the Improving Capital Allocation for Newcomers Act, which Rep. William Timmons IV (R-South Carolina) first introduced in 2021. The original legislation shifts the thresholds at which investment firms are considered venture capital firms from having maximums of $10 million and 250 limited partners to $150 million and 600 LPs, respectively.
By relating the story behind RareBreed Ventures’ creation, Conwell argued that these barometers would enable funds like his — that is, funds with many smaller investors — to continue driving innovation from Black and other under-resourced founders.
“The current rules limit the amount of capital and sources of capital for small and new investment funds, leading to less capital to help drive innovation, economic growth and job creation,” he said. “Especially when we’re talking about companies started by founders of color because we know that in particular, Black-led funds are four times more likely to invest in Black-led companies.”
As I'm a little more then 30 mins away from testifying to congress at 2pm est on the importance of allowing fund of 150M or less to have up to 600 LP which you can see here – https://t.co/u8KiNjYtEm
I must say I clean up well pic.twitter.com/EmtSvN9sSw
— MacTheVC.eth (@MacConwell) February 8, 2023
Conwell told Technical.ly that the opportunity came about through the Center for American Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit that brought him onto several calls with Congresspeople, including members of the House Finance Committee who eventually invited him to speak about this legislation. He submitted a written statement several days ahead of delivering the oral component, which he had to condense to five minutes.
While Conwell has legislative testimony experience with the Maryland General Assembly, this was his first time doing so before Congress. Although he appreciated having the experience and speaking to his beliefs in front of decision makers, Conwell admitted feeling somewhat let down by the partisanship that runs Washington. He relayed an interaction with someone sitting near him who thought the bill likely wouldn’t pass the Republican-led House, or die in the Democrat-led Senate. He said that this acrimony goes as far as the subcommittee’s webpage, where Republican members have hyperlinks to their own websites while Democrats do not.
Great to welcome VCs @MacConwell, @darcyhowe, and entrepreneur @dmuhwezi to Washington to share their insights with the House Capital Markets Subcommittee on how to improve access to capital for new and small businesses and get more capital to women and entrepreneurs of color! pic.twitter.com/2jDE4Eza1r
— Center For American Entrepreneurship (@startupsUSAorg) February 8, 2023
Conwell added that he noticed Republicans wanting to talk to him about his support of their party-led bills, whereas Democrats present were more “focused on things that impacted large, big, multibillion-dollar tech companies” within that legislation.
“DC is nothing but high school. The politicians are so petty,” he said. “It was shocking to me, the level of pettiness from the group of folks who help manage and control the free world.”
Despite these issues, he said he was grateful for the “clear honor” of speaking before legislators that others with less prominence or power do not get.
“Even though there are things about the political process that were frustrating to me, I am encouraged by the direction of some of the bills that I was there to speak on — with the hope of true bipartisanship in the future,” he said.
Watch Conwell’s testimony below, starting at the 33:02 mark:
Knowledge is power!
Subscribe for free today and stay up to date with news and tips you need to grow your career and connect with our vibrant tech community.