One of Pittsburgh’s new early-stage investment funds just got a couple million dollars of institutional support.
Pittsburgh-headquartered First National Bank (FNB) Corporation announced today that it made a $2.5 million equity investment in Black Tech Nation Ventures (BTN.vc). The news comes a few months after BTN.vc announced that it reached the halfway point of its $50 million fundraising goal, enabling the firm to make its first investment in Cleveland-based startup BlendEd at the end of last year. The support from FNB for the firm marks the first public announcement of financial backing from an institution in support of BTN.vc’s mission of providing funding and resources to Black-led tech startups.
BTN.vc officially formed in 2021, as the investment arm of community organization Black Tech Nation, which focuses on developing and support the community of Black technologists in Pittsburgh with the hope of making the city a model for tech inclusion. Its new venture initiative is one of several firms formed over the last few years that are focused on supporting early stage tech startups in the Pittsburgh region — a response to frequent complaints that there’s a drought of local funding. Other early stage firms that have either begun investing or have announced plans to in the very near future include 412 Venture Fund, Magarac Venture Partners, BlueTree Venture Fund and more.
“We are happy to be in partnership with FNB and appreciate their commitment to support Black Tech Nation Ventures’ mission to democratize access to VC capital and generate wealth for marginalized communities,” Kelauni Jasmyn, founding partner of BTN.vc and founder and CEO of Black Tech Nation, said in a statement. “Together, we can help ensure that Black tech founders receive equal access to investment opportunities. We look forward to working with FNB to create a substantial impact in tech and VC.”
Outside of funding 20 to 30 early stage technology startups with diverse founding teams, BTN.vc will connect its founders to all of the resources and support offered through Black Tech Nation, which has connections beyond Pittsburgh’s tech community. Beyond its investment in BlendEd for an undisclosed amount last year, BTN.vc has also publicly invested $600,000 in Rockville, Maryland-based fintech startup Hive Wealth, according to a press release published last month.
In addition to the $2.5 million investment in BTN.vc, FNB also announced a series of other recent investments it made, including $5 million for a proprietary real estate gap lending program, a $1 million equity equivalent investment in the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh’s Avenues of Hope program and another $1 million in equity for Invest PGH’s Accelerating Business Expansion Loan program. FNB said that all of these investments are part of more than $200 million in loans, investments and grants the bank has in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, and they signify a broader effort to provide funding for local business and entrepreneurs.
“Black Tech Nation Ventures has a proven leadership team and a mission that aligns with our own focus on providing resources for diverse communities,” said Vincent Delie, Jr., chairman, president and CEO of FNB, in a statement. “We are confident that our partnership will deliver on FNB’s high standards for creating jobs and increasing access to capital and support for underrepresented business owners in our markets.”
Neither BTN.vc nor FNB Corporation immediately responded to request for comment about how much BTN.vc has now raised for its fund or any other future plans.Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 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 Heinz Endowments.
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