Diversity & Inclusion
Black in Tech / DEI / Startups / Venture capital

What’s it like to be Black in tech? Hear from founders, VCs and more in our new video series

DC venture capitalist Melissa Bradley kicks off the discussion, with advice on starting a business and navigating the cultural whiplash around DEI.

Melissa Bradley of 1863 Ventures. (Technical.ly / Donte Kirby)

DC venture capitalist Melissa Bradley knows what it’s like to be the only Black woman in the room. 

A fixture in the startup scene since 1999, she’s seen it go through many eras. She’s cofounder of growth engine Ureeka, managing partner at 1863 Ventures, and the steward of DC’s third iteration of its Inclusive Innovation Equity Impact Fund.

Bradley is the first subject of our new video series, “Black in Tech 2024: A Dream Promised… and Deferred.”

There was a surge of promises from the tech world and corporate America in the wake of 2020’s protests. And some of it materialized. In 2021, as Bradley noted in a recent essay, Black-owned businesses grew by 14.3% nationwide. 

In 2024, however, the whole concept of diversity, equity and inclusion is on the chopping block. There’s a rising idea that using race-based solutions to curb systemic inequalities stemming from the country’s legacy of slavery and Jim Crow is inherently discriminatory under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. 

Corporate heads of DEI are being let go, and programs that support the historically disenfranchised are being scaled back or reimagined. Venture capital firms that support Black women, whose companies have historically received less than 2% of overall VC funding, are being sued to the point of decimation — investors are backing out and it’s hard for the funds to maintain staffing.  

So what’s it like to be Black and work in the tech and startup world right now? Our new video series features Black technologists sharing their journeys, tips and hopes for the future.

Bradley is up first. In this video, she details what it was like when she started in tech, what she’s feeling today, and some useful advice: four things you need to build a successful startup. 

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: 1863 Ventures
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