This national org aims to grow the number of Black VCs. Now it has a Baltimore-DC chapter - Technical.ly DC

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Oct. 30, 2020 9:15 am

This national org aims to grow the number of Black VCs. Now it has a Baltimore-DC chapter

Investors from around the region are launching BLCK VC to grow community and programming for folks looking to break into investing.
BLCK VC Baltimore-DC kickoff call.

BLCK VC Baltimore-DC kickoff call.

(Image via twitter.com/TheValuesVC)

Only 1% of founders who receive VC funding are Black.

It’s a statistic that will require intention to fix. Dig a little deeper into the numbers, and it’s clear that more diversity is also needed among the teams at the investment firms who write the checks: A 2018 stat showed that just 3% of venture capitalists are Black.

It’s a piece of the equation that national nonprofit BLCK VC is seeking address.

“The idea is that the best way to get funding to diverse founders is to have diverse people writing checks,” said Maurice Boissiere, chief customer officer with Fulton-based cyber foundry DataTribe.

Founded in 2018, it set out to double the number of Black people in venture capital in 2024. Now, local investors are joining the effort to take up this goal. Boissiere is among a group of seven VCs bringing a chapter of the group to the D.C.-Baltimore region. It joins a network of 500 investors and chapters in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

It’ll form a community of Black VCs in the region, and tap into the nonprofit’s professional development programming. Venture has a long history in the region, given the storied VC firms like NEA and Novak Biddle Venture Partners that backed startups as they grew in this region and beyond. Now, David Hall, managing partner of D.C.-based Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, noted that there’s a new class of VC firms starting up with diverse teams in both the Baltimore and D.C. areas, and launching programming like the “equity edition” of Rise of the Rest’s tour that will invest $2 million in Black founders.

Hall and Boissiere represent two of those funds, and they got together five other investors on a Zoom call over the summer. They left thinking, for one, that they should get together more often. But soon they realized it could be a bigger community, and an entry point. After learning of BLCK VC and contacting the national organization, they brought together 30 people on a call last night to kick it off.

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“We have this drive to do great deals and to be great VCs, but there’s also a recognition of how important the big C and little c community is,” Hall said.

That means programming that BLCK VC offers resources to help break into entry level roles. The org partners with Salesforce and University of California, Berkeley, to help career transition from corporate to venture. Hall also said it will start with creating a “network map” that will help members make connections. Then they’ll work to create pathways into VC to guide folks through the ranks toward becoming check-writing partners. Law and services firms like Shulman Rogers, Aronson LLC, VentureCount and CohnReznick are also part of that community to support.

The organizing team includes:

  • Maurice Boissiere, DataTribe
  • David Hall, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund
  • Melissa Bradley, 1863 Ventures
  • Phil Bronner, Ardent Venture Partners
  • Jeff Cherry, SHIFT Ventures
  • McKeever Conwell, RareBreed Ventures
  • Ollen Douglass, Motley Fool Ventures

At Thursday’s kickoff call, firms represented also included Avenue Growth Partners, Blu Venture Investors, Brown Advisors, Edison Partners, Impact America Fund, LM Ventures, The Marathon Fund, NextGen Venture Partners, TechStars, TEDCO and Zeal Capital.

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