Don’t just talk about it, be about it!
Managing Director of venture capital (VC) firm Insight Partners knows exactly how to use his privilege to level the playing field when it comes to funding for Black founders.
Richard Wells is the son of an Ecuadorian immigrant mother but carries the name and appearance of his white father which he notes has helped his career tremendously.
“When I sit on a panel of folks that do what we do, I have joked that I have the same haircut and look very similar to everyone else, all the white guys,” said Wells in an interview with Forbes. “And I recognize that’s an advantage for me. No one knows that I had a grandmother that didn’t speak a word of English.”
As veterans in the industry, Wells and his partners have continuously been informed about the hardships that fund managers, specifically, women and people of color, face when it comes to raising money.
It was this that motivated both him and his partners to put $15 million of their own capital into a fund that now has been almost fully committed in just under a year, Forbes reports.
The Vision Capital 2020 LP Fund was designed for people who belong to minority groups who are currently in their early-stage funds. To make the deployment process more efficient, the vehicle was composed exclusively of personal capital from the firm’s partners.
They also made the decision to not involve other LPs within the process.
To date, the firm has looked at over 250 funds and has made 12 commitments to managers. Some include January Ventures, RareBreed Ventures, Ulu Ventures, and Maple VC.
The receiving class was made up of 83 percent Black and Latino led-firms, 39 percent women-managed vehicles, and 42 percent were first-time funds.
“That isn’t a philanthropic initiative,” shared Wells. “We expect this investment to make money, and we expect to be able to demonstrate that to others, including some of our LPs, who are interested in this but don’t know where to begin.”
It is Wells’ hope to have this initiative span further than the investment and to provide insight and resources for upcoming funds.