Back in the early 1900s Parrish Street’s four-block district in Durham, North Carolina used to be home to a plethora of Black-owned businesses. Though those businesses do not exist today, this venture capital fund is working to keep the district’s legacy alive.
Resilient Ventures — a fund comprised of local angel investors — is a capital fund that was created to mirror the mission of Durham’s Black Wall Street in an effort to provide more opportunities for Black-led startups all across the country.
According to its website, Resilient Ventures was founded on principles and values that aim to “disrupt systemic economic injustice by expanding access to capital, networks, and opportunity to companies.”
As of this week, Hypepotamus reports that just two years after its launch and amid the pandemic, Resilient Ventures has closed on a $3.45 million fund from 24 investors total described as “mostly accredited individual investors from their network,” who contributed to the fund.
Though the fund managed to navigate its way through a few obstacles along the way, such as the pandemic and widespread social justice protests, it fell short of its initial goal to raise $10 million before the global health crisis hit.
“It’s definitely been difficult and challenging,” Keith Daniel — owner of Durham-based Madison Consulting Group — said to Hypepotamus. “[But ] we feel pretty good.”
According to The Herald Sun, Durham’s Black Wall Street used to be a historical and heavily-concentrated area for Black wealth, economic and political power until urban renewal and construction of the Durham Freeway ultimately pushed people out of the neighborhood.
Much like how Black businesses and entrepreneurs found themselves struggling at the end of those days back then, Black founders are also facing disproportionate struggles with less than 1% of venture capital allocated toward their startups, Hypepotamus reports.
“We knew there needed to be a voice at the table and more focus on African American founders. The pandemic has only further clarified [our mission],” Daniel shared with the outlet.
As a result of this, co-founders Daniel and Thomas Droege — president of Droege Computing Services — came up with the idea to start Resilient Ventures to resurrect its hometown’s legacy.
“We want to just get the fundraising period over,” Droege added, “and focus the next three years on finding these companies and deploying the capital.”
Hypepotamus also shares that Resilient Ventures is believed to be the only fund in the Durham-Raleigh area that specifically caters to Black founders.
So far, the fund has committed roughly $680,000 to its eight portfolio companies, four of which come from North Carolina: Gryppers — a sports tech startup founded by two former North Carolina State University Wolfpack football players (Raleigh); Beyu Group — a restaurant chain (Durham); CircleIn — an EdTech startup (Cary); and LiveWell — an assisted living home (Chapel Hill).
“Half the companies are already at the $800,000 revenue point and higher,” Droege tells Hypepotamus.
With the fund actively recruiting new companies — and 50 already in the pipeline to review — Resilient Ventures has a goal to invest in 10 to 15 companies total.
Though the fund’s co-founders believe access to capital for Black founders is steadily improving, they know they have a long way to go – and the work starts with their mission.
For more information about Resilient Ventures, visit its website.