Startups

Shorties Roundup: Motley Fool Ventures invested $5M into diversity-focused VC funds

The tech-focused venture capital fund announced the first round of investments, which includes some funding for D.C.'s Zeal Capital Partners. Plus, a roundup of #dctech news you might have missed this week.

Ollen Douglass, managing director at Motley Fool Ventures.

(Photo via Twitter)

Motley Fool Ventures, investing advice company Motley Fool’s tech-focused venture capital fund, has invested $5 million into 13 venture capital firms addressing diversity and underrepresentation in VC.

The Alexandria, Virginia-based venture firm’s first fund closed at $145 million in January 2019, but Motley Fool Ventures reports that it actually raised $150 million. The $5 million comes from this initial raise.

“When VCs talk about deal flow, they often focus on introductions from personal connections, other venture funds, and founders they formerly backed. When those sources are not diverse, it creates a circular reference that feeds a closed system,” Motley Fool Ventures Managing Partner Ollen Douglass wrote in a blog post. “By investing in, and collaborating with, this outstanding cohort of fund managers, we are intentionally opening our network to fellow VCs and founders who are being overlooked and underestimated.”

Of the 26 partners across the funds that Motley Fool Ventures is investing in, 54% are women and more than 70% are minorities. D.C.-based Zeal Capital Partners, a new, inclusivity-minded firm focused on investing in early-stage fintech and future-of-work companies and led by Nasir Qadree, secured some funding as part of this initiative. Zeal Capital Partners also recently closed its first fund and secured an investment from Bank of America.

Why fund other firms? It’s about supporting the diversity-minded work that already exists, not reinventing the wheel, Douglass said.

“With a bias to take action, we had two choices: 1) take on the task of building a network from scratch, or 2) collaborate with others that have already demonstrated their ability to identify great underrepresented founders,” he said. “Obviously, we chose the latter, and are looking to build a strong and supportive community that will be mutually beneficial for all.”

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Here are the other funds that secured funding from Motley Fool Ventures:

  • Avenue Growth Partners
  • Cleo Capital
  • Hometeam Ventures
  • NOEMIS Ventures
  • Portfolia – Rising America Fund
  • Slauson & Co.
  • SteelSky Ventures
  • TXV Partners
  • Untapped Capital
  • WOCstar Fund

Motley Fool Ventures said more funds will be announced at a later date.

Now, for the shorties from this week, as shared in Technical.ly DC’s daily newsletter:

Thursday, Feb. 4

  • Howard University is teaming up with the Inclusive Innovation Incubator and New York-based financial tech company Fiserv to launch the Inclusive Innovation Labs exclusively for university students, faculty and alumni. There will be 15 ventures selected for the inaugural cohort.
  • Govtech accelerator Dcode took part in the launch of The Alliance for Commercial Technology in Government, a new nonprofit advocacy group looking to represent and scale tech startups in the federal sector. Applications for membership are now open.
  • Amazon released the design plans for its second HQ in Arlington. Designed by architectural firm NBBJ, the ecommerce giant is going for a helix building at the center.

Wednesday, Feb. 3

  • D.C.’s Event Farm, developer of an experiential marketing platform, launched a partnership with Zoom to offer event solutions to companies operating virtually. Check out this story we published about Event Farm’s recent work in the virtual event space.
  • Novavax recently reported that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is 89.3% effective based on data from its clinical trial in the U.K. The biotech company is also running trials in the U.S. and in Mexico, with more than 16,000 volunteers enrolled to receive the vaccine. Read more from Sara Gilgore at the Washington Business Journal.
  • Due to increased interest from its community partners, Halcyon has extended the deadline for its 2021 Opportunity Intensive program until Feb. 11. The fellowship is open to social enterprises based in or serving an Opportunity Zone in the DMV region. Apply here or nominate a company.
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Tuesday, Feb. 2

  • The coronavirus vaccine is still being rolled out across the U.S. and despite the delays, more than 100 million doses have been administered. Follow the progress of the vaccine rollout across the U.S. with Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.
  • Further stamping D.C. as a premiere location for higher education, Texas A&M University launched a satellite campus in D.C. for its government and public service school. Inaugural classes began virtually last month, and some students are now learning from the classroom to pursue graduate degrees in international policy.
  • D.C.’s fundraising platform company GiveCampus is partnering with San Francisco-based wealth data company Windfall to provide data to schools seeking to engage with more donors. GiveCampus is providing its partner schools with real-time wealth data from Windfall.

Monday, Feb. 1

  • Women in Technology has announced the finalists for its 22nd Annual Leadership Awards. The awards honor women leading in the local technology sector, including corporate, nonprofit, small business, STEM and more. The virtual gala honoring the winners will be on May 20. Check out the 34 finalists across eight categories.
  • D.C. fintech startup Savi Solutions is looking for a part-time content strategist to join its team. This person would assist with marketing strategy and content development for the company’s national clients. Check out the company’s other open roles.
  • In honor of its former leader Bobbie Kilberg, the Northern Virginia Technology Council announced the launch of the NVTC Foundation Kilberg Scholarship Fund. With an initial raise of $110,000, this new initiative is looking to financially support women in NoVa pursuing higher education in STEM.
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