When passion exuded by investors matches that of the founders, it could be a win-win situation.
On the latest episode of AfroTech’s Black Tech Green Money (BTGM), Blavity COO Aaron Samuels is joined by Slauson & Co. founders Austin Clements and Ajay Relan to discuss all things venture capital, which includes sharing their expertise on the world of investing.
As an early-stage venture capital firm, Slauson & Co. invests in the tools and platforms of people to grow and expand small businesses. Their belief is rooted in the power of entrepreneurship with a focus on empowering founders regardless of their proximity to the traditional venture capital ecosystem.
They truly believe that intentionality and inclusivity will take investors a long way when it comes to finding the best pool of founders to partner with.
“There are a lot of diversity funds popping up, or a lot of people that are going after those markets and the question that comes with that is — ‘Is it too crowded or too niche or not developed enough yet?’ and that was mind-boggling to me that these conversations were happening,” Clements shared. “In reality, if you look at the demographics of the U.S. and how rapidly they’re changing and how underrepresented we are in the tech industry, it’s very clear that this opportunity is massive. Ultimately I think that people should be viewing it as just a massive opportunity that’s been historically overlooked.”
Slauson & Co.
For folks that are from LA, the significance of the name of this venture capital firm is just as powerful as the work that the firm is doing.
“As we were thinking through what our mission was and what we wanted to create as far as the sentiment and feeling, for the bridge we wanted to build, it was centered around both the people that were investing in us and the people that we were seeking to invest in,” Relan recalled. “We were thinking about Slauson, which is about a 20-plus mile stretch through South LA, which is predominantly a Black and brown community.”
Relan continued: “When you think of South LA, an area where a lot of the culture originates, but by the time it makes its way further north to more developed areas, it gets rebranded and doesn’t necessarily get the credit that it deserves. All of that culture gets packaged up and exported throughout the world and the origin tends to get lost.”
At Slauson & Co, it’s all about “the company you keep,” which is why they work alongside a network of highly respected and influential people whose mission aligns with the firm’s values.
Diversity Is Not Charity
During the episode, the founders explain how people often want to take the idea of diversity and inclusion and place it into a bucket of impact — meaning that, in turn, investors could wound up compromising their returns.
“In reality, being impactful is a way to prove that you can generally generate competition, if not outperform, a lot of the people who are chasing after the same opportunities,” Clements explained.
For more on VC within Los Angeles, opportunities for Black founders, and knowledge from Slauson & Co. — listen to the full podcast episode below.