This venture capital fund is on a mission to support Black founders across the United Kingdom.
According to Insider, South London-based Black Seed has successfully raised $6.25 million to use toward investing in early-stage tech companies.
This is a very personal journey for founders Cyril Lutterodt and Karl Lokko because they know firsthand the struggles for Black-owned businesses in the country.
“We’ve been through these statistics personally so we know that experience,” Lutterodt recalled. “Founding a business is hard but being a Black founder is harder, but we believe this is a huge opportunity in a nascent market.”
What’s more, in addition to equipping founders who look like them with funding, Black Seed will also provide office space in London and Manchester along with access to a community to lean on as businesses work to grow and scale.
Uplifting Founders Who Look Like Them
“We don’t want to trivialize things, there are systemic and historic barriers that Black founders face when entering the entrepreneurial ecosystem, but this has helped build resilience,” Lokko said. “It is notoriously hard and we do expect a slog, so despite the change in the funding climate, our desire hasn’t changed.”
Black Seed will invest in roughly 10 companies each year. This is just the beginning as the fund will have a consistent group of startups it supports. The portfolio companies will be afforded free office space, located at the fund’s sites, for six months.
For years, Black Seed has been in discussions with various investors to make the fund a reality. Now it is here thanks to a funding round led by asset manager M&G Catalyst as well as contributions from VC firms that include Atomico, LocalGlobe, Molten Ventures, and WestRiver Group.
The Black Silicon Valley
“We exist to make the Black Silicon Valley, which our cross-Atlantic cousins haven’t pulled off,” Lokko shared. “Our aim is to shoot for as high as possible and others will come in on our building blocks and community endorsement.”
With its main location in Brixton, Black Seed is already immersed in an area filled with Afro-Carribean history. This was intentional for the founders as they wanted the space to reinforce their commitment to Black business owners, vs. more well-known London finance locations such as Soho and Mayfair.
While the fund amount raised is significantly lower than what Black Seed initially intended — which was $12.5 million — it was important to the founders to start making moves. Now they plan to raise the full amount sooner rather than later.