A world where venture capitalists serve people who look like them does exist, and Sherrard Harrington and Aaron Wilson are on a mission to ensure that this space is a place where Black founders can do more than just survive, but also thrive.
EONXI — a venture fund and incubator — has been building, investing, and empowering founders within the Web3 and metaverse ecosystem since its 2019 inception. As general partners, Harrington and Wilson’s passion for technology and how it can be used to serve led them to a space where they can help others reap the benefits that it has to offer.
After suffering an injury during his days of football at the University of Colorado, Harrington found himself venturing into the private equity industry and tech landscape. On the other hand, Wilson’s introduction started with a career in finance which transitioned into human capital consulting and recruiting. Now that their paths have crossed, the two continue to build EONXI into a hub for founders.
What Is EONXI?
“EON represents a billion ideas. X represents the problem that we’re solving and ‘I’ represents inclusivity and innovation via interoperability, which of course is the underlying philosophy behind Web3,” Wilson explained in an exclusive interview with AfroTech. “And we have a primary focus on all things Web3 as it pertains to communication labs and the concepts that we’re developing and spinning out.”
As the worldwide web as we know it continues to expand and evolve, Harrington and Wilson’s EONXI, allows underdeveloped startups to place their stakes in the areas like blockchain, gaming, and the metaverse.
Through their studies and expertise in the Web3 space, EONXI discovered the idea of centralization and how being centralized has caused a lot of issues as far as hacking and data being all under one big umbrella. In turn, this causes users to not actually own any of that said data. Now, Web3 serves as a transition to a user-centric, data-driven place where users own their data and act as influencers where they can get paid for their likeness.
“We saw a lot of those issues happening in our day to day lives in working with influencers, and me being a former athlete converted into an entrepreneurial landscape, and we also saw that a lot of brand and enterprise organizations wanted to tap into influencers likeness, but wouldn’t necessarily give them ways to monetize off their likeness or simply would just take advantage of them,” Harrington added. “And so that was a part of the thinking of why we went into this space.”
Bridging The Gap
When influencers are approached by companies about using their image and likeness for the company’s gain, they aren’t often aware of the fine print that comes along with what they’re signing up for, that is, until EONXI steps in to help.
“We saw an opportunity to be able to bridge a gap that existed between influencers, celebrities, and athletes who were being compensated the transactional capacity with likeness being leveraged. However, we knew the long-term impact that leveraging someone’s likeness could have on a brand,” Wilson shared. “And we wanted to create a dynamic where they could have skin in the game and long-term incentives for a brand or a company or an enterprise leveraging their likeness. That’s where the idea of connecting individuals to extremely competitive deal flow and getting them in these rooms to have these strategic conversations actually came alive for EONXI.”
Harrington and Wilson understand firsthand the impact that they’re making with EONXI just by merely existing in a space where traditionally Black people are omitted.
“It’s definitely a blessing to have an opportunity to make an impact and to do it in the right way,” said Wilson. “What’s super important for us is to increase visibility. So, with EONXI, we have a bifurcated approach toward what we’re doing in acknowledging private equity because we have our investment vehicle, but we also have our incubation lab. On the investment side of things, our primary focus is to bridge the gap in the world of opportunities for individuals to get access to deal flow, but at the same time, one of our big visions for the future is to create the next generations of limited partners and general partners. These are the individuals who are in the investing landscape, both within private equity and venture capital, and the reason why it’s important for us to create the next generation of LPs and GPs is that representation matters.”
Beyond that representation, EONXI has identified the root problem which is the lack of connectivity between those who have money and those who need access to capital to bring their visions to life.
“The reason why we wanted to go out there and to build this is primarily what we’ve mentioned before as well as being Black in this space,” Harrington concluded. “We had a lot of what I would call naysayers in this space behind us saying things like ‘You can’t build the metaverse concept.’ So, we took it upon ourselves and said, ‘Actually, we can.'”
Click here to learn more about EONXI.