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2 Computer Science Majors Have Raised $3M For Their AI Platform, JusticeText, To Build Police Accountability

Two computer science majors from the University of Chicago (UChicago) are making significant strides in advancing improvements in the criminal justice system. Death Of Laquan McDonald Inspired The Need For Change Co-founders Leslie Jones-Dove and Devshi Mehrotra refused to look the other way following two tragedies at the hands of police. In 2015, while attending the University of Chicago in Illinois as freshmen, Jones-Dove and Mehrotra learned of dash cam footage that was released showing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being fatally shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke on Oct. 20, 2014, ABC-7 Chicago reports. The incident sparked protests across the city and demonstrations on the University of Chicago campus. For the duo, it served as a launch pad for their interest in the intersection of technology and criminal justice. According to The Guardian, a police union official said McDonald had “lunged at police” before the officer fired shots. However, the video footage told a different...

Feb 5, 2024

'We Are Not Scared:' Fearless Fund Responds After Being Targeted And Accused Of Discriminatory Practices By Right-Wing Groups

This venture capital fund isn’t backing away from the reason it all started in the first place.

Aug 10, 2023

Diddy-Backed Beauty Brand Thirteen Lune Closes $3M Seed Funding Round

Inclusive e-commerce beauty brand thirteen lune, backed by Diddy, Gwyneth Paltrow, and more, has closed a $3 million seed round led by venture capital firm Fearless Fund. “We are delighted to welcome thirteen lune into the Fearless Fund family,” says Arian Simone, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fearless Fund, according to Essence. “Nyakio has created a groundbreaking space to foster inclusivity in the beauty and wellness industries and we are excited to support the brand as they continue to scale over the next few years.” As a Black woman founder, receiving funding does not come easy. In fact, only 93 Black women have received venture capital funding over $1 million as of December 2020. Nyakio Grieco — founder of thirteen lune — learned firsthand how difficult raising money can be as an entrepreneur. She was fortunate to collect funds from friends and family to debut her brand into the market. The new funds marks a hopeful step forward to create a new landscape for more...

Nov 8, 2021

Meet The Black Venture Capitalists Who Are Not Only Raising Millions But Changing The Status Quo

It’s no secret that the startup world needs more Black investors and venture capitalists. Inc. Magazine reports Black founders are raising “record amounts of venture capital” in 2021, even though they only rang in 1.2 percent of all venture capital in the first half of the year. Last year, Black founders received only 0.6 percent of venture capital (VC) deployed. That’s unacceptable, and Black investors are stepping up to the plate to change that. Some notable Black venture capitalists making major moves in the VC world include Jarrid Tingle, co-founder and managing partner of Harlem Capital; Marlon Nichols, managing general partner at MaC Venture Capital; and Austin Clements, partner at Slauson & Co. The trio will hit the virtual stage at AfroTech 2021 during the “Black VCs: Raising Millions with a Mission” panel to discuss how they are working to raise millions of dollars to diversify venture capital investments. Ultimately, Nichols, Clements and Tingle want to put more dollars in...

Oct 29, 2021

BLCK VC Launches Scout Network To Better Support Aspiring Black Investors

Nonprofit firm BLCK VC teamed up with Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners to launch a network that supports the next generation of Black investors. There has been an emergence of scout programs in the venture capital sector, which have helped better connect founders, operators, and angel investors (If you’re unsure of what venture capital scouts are, think of them as the bridge between venture funds and promising companies looking for support). Through the BLCK VC Scout Network, Black investors will be able to tap into training, mentoring and networking opportunities. BLCK VC launched this initiative after recently discovering that only three percent of venture capital investors are Black. The firm is working to increase diversity in venture capital, so this new network is a step in the right direction. The BLCK VC Scout Network program will take place over six months, across three phases focused on education, community , and deal flow. Twice a year, BLCK VC will welcome...

Jul 13, 2021

Black and Latinx Women Founders Need More VC Support, digitalundivided's Report Finds

Following the racial justice movement last year, there was an uptick in venture capital deals for minority women founders, but has that support been sustained? This New Jersey-based nonprofit has the facts to show that it hasn’t. Founded in 2012, digitalundivided is a nonprofit organization that offers community and resources to Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs. The nonprofit recently released the first update on its ProjectDiane report, a demographic study that details Black and Latinx women founders and the startups they lead. The nonprofit began working on its biennial ProjectDiane report in 2016, with the most recent report publishing last year. The ProjectDiane 2021 Update assesses data from the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. Digitalundivided debuted the most recent findings at its undivided We Rise virtual summit last month. “Studies show that Covid-19 alone has sped up digital transformation by 5.3 years,” digitalundivided CEO Lauren Maillian said...

Jun 3, 2021

Harlem Capital Announces $134M Fund II, the Largest Diversity-Focused VC Fund to Date

Diversity-focused venture capital firm, Harlem Capital has just announced the close of its Harlem Capital Partners Venture Fund II Limited Partners (LP) — also known as Fund II — at $134 million. According to a press release reviewed by AfroTech, the new fund exceeded its original target of $100 million and went above its initial cap of $125 million as it aims to continue its mission of changing the face of entrepreneurship with diverse founders. It is also said to be the largest diversity-focused VC fund to date. Harlem Capital shares that while Fund II will maintain the firm’s focus on minority and women founders, it will also seek out early-stage investments in companies in the enterprise and consumer technology fields. “We are focused on building an institution and platform to support diverse founders for many generations. Fund II is one step closer to our mission, but we know the work and journey continues,” Harlem Capital Managing Partner Henri Pierre-Jacques shared in a...

Mar 31, 2021

Kuda Raises $25M Series A to Help People From the African Diaspora Manage Their Money

Nigeria’s Kuda Technologies raised $25 million in a Series A funding round led by Valar Ventures with participation from Target Global and other investors. Co-headquartered in London and Lagos, Nigeria, Kuda offers mobile-first banking services to help people from the African diaspora manage their money and credit digitally. Kuda’s services are currently only live in Nigeria and this is the first African startup that Valar has financially backed. Kuda’s CEO Babs Ogundeyi says the company plans to use the Series A to expand its credit offerings, add more integrations to its platform, build services excessively for businesses and expand to more markets. “Nigeria is at a tipping point in the adoption of digital banking,” Andrew McCormack, a general partner and co-founder at Valar, told TechCrunch . “With the rapidly growing, youthful population who are open to new financial alternatives, Kuda is well-positioned to benefit and will transform the landscape of African banking.” This...

Mar 19, 2021

Only 40 Black Founders Secured VC Funding of At Least $1M in Q4 2020

Of the 1,537 startups that closed venture capital deals of at least $1 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, only 40 of them have Black founders at the helm, a new report finds. These findings were brought to light by Los Angeles-based diversity recruiting platform company Hallo in its second quarterly Black Founders Funding report. The new report analyzed 1,537 young companies across the U.S. that raised funding between $1 million and $50 million at the end of last year. The findings only account for these mega-deals closed between Oct. 1, 2020 , and Dec. 31, 2020. “In my honest opinion, the largest bottle neck for entrepreneurs of color are in the earliest days of starting your company. Once it’s time to go raise a traditional seed round the lack of friend and family capital access might put even the best laid plans and product roadmaps behind the curve in the eyes of seed investors aiming to back initial products and amazing teams,” Hallo’s co-founder and CEO Vernon Howard told...

Jan 28, 2021

Ready to Launch Your Startup? Here are Five Ways to Raise Capital

Launching a company is difficult, and limited funding is the most common barrier to entry to the startup world. Do you have a great idea, but you’re trying to figure out how to fund it? Are you already running a startup, but cash is running out fast? Here are some ways to raise capital for your startup: Save Money Saving money isn’t easy, but it’s the most straightforward way to raise funds for your business. If you’re still working a regular full-time job, commit to saving a part of your current salary to help fund your dreams. Review your monthly expenses and eliminate unnecessary expenses like subscriptions and expensive lunches. If you live with roommates or a significant other, consider sharing expenses to reduce cost per person. This might include shopping in bulk, sharing an Amazon Prime account (or any subscription for that matter), and taking advantage of family memberships at the gym. If you’re already committed to your startup on a full-time basis, you should be auditing...

Jan 13, 2020

Five Black-Led VC Firms to Watch

The diversity numbers in venture capital (VC) are even worse than the numbers in tech as a whole. According to Tech Crunch, 81 percent of VC firms don’t have any Black investors at all. A study released by Harvard in 2017, indicated that women have accounted for less than 10 percent of the entrepreneurial and venture capital labor pool from 1990-2016 with about two percent having been Hispanics, and less than one percent African Americans. A more recent Stanford study indicates that even successful Black VCs have a tougher time in the industry than their white counterparts. Here are five Black VC making a mark: 1. BLCK VC According to their website , “BLCK VC was formed to connect, engage, empower, and advance Black venture investors by providing a focused community built for and by Black venture investors.” Their goal is to increase the number of Black venture capitalists from 200 to 400 by 2024. BLCK helps VC firms incorporate effective diversity and inclusion practices in their...

Jan 2, 2020

The Road to Capital Funding as A Woman of Color in Tech

“You know you’ve picked the hardest issue to solve, right?” Those were the words from a potential investor after I completed a funding pitch for my company Patientory. His response wasn’t new to me. I knew healthcare was broken from my previous experience of working in a digital healthcare startup. Any healthcare entrepreneur should be aware of the amount of time (years) needed to invest in an innovative healthcare product and see it through. After figuring this out, I prepared for the long haul. It’s very different when you experience it, versus when you just observe it. However, what I did know for sure was that I was up for the challenge. I also knew this pitch wasn’t my first and it wouldn’t be my last. I created Patientory to empower consumers with an application they can use to improve their overall health and well-being. Coupled with an enterprise solution that can integrate electronic medical records, through personal experience and research, I realized healthcare that’s...

Nov 20, 2019

Is VC Funding Right For Your Startup?

Entrepreneurs generally have three things on the brain: product, scale, and profit. We generally believe these two principles go hand-in-hand. The more customers we pull in, the more profits we make, right? Well, sometimes. However, developing a viable product and producing large quantities of it often require lots of upfront capital, which young entrepreneurs generally don’t have. Here’s where venture capital (VC) comes in. Investopedia defines “venture capital” as “a form of private equity and a type of financing that investors provide to startup companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth potential.” It might seem like every startup worth its salt has raised some VC along the way. However, for Black entrepreneurs, the truth can be a bit bleaker. Black startups generally have a harder time raising VC, and it only gets worse the better they perform. Here are some reasons you probably shouldn’t pursue VC funding for your startup: Diluted Ownership...

Oct 23, 2019

Here's What You Should Know Before Following Your Entrepreneurial Passion

“ When I was younger there was something in me. I had passion. I may not have known what I was going to do with that passion, but there was something –and I still feel it. It’s this little engine that roars inside of me and I just want to keep going and going.” – Sheila Johnson, co-founder of BET and CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts The virtues of following one’s passion have been cornerstones of 21st-century motivational speeches. We’ve been taught that excelling at — and monetizing — our favorite activities is the only true way to lasting professional and personal success. Some argue that social media platforms make it possible for everyone to make a living from their talents without requiring acceptance from the traditional gatekeepers of industries. With platforms like SoundCloud and YouTube, musicians don’t need record labels to distribute their music anymore. Publish platforms, like Medium , allow writers to share their work directly to the internet, and engineers can now...

Oct 17, 2019

Elliott Robinson Joins Bessemer Venture Partners

Bessemer Venture Partners has tapped Elliott Robinson to lead growth equity investments in enterprise software and cloud computing technology. Robinson’s experience with BLCK VC — a firm focused on Black investors and founders — and technology-centered investment fund, M12, makes him ideal for his new Bessemer position. Robinson said working with Bessemer is ” a dream come true” via Twitter. “Now, more than ever, the best companies have a ton of options when choosing their venture capital and growth equity investment partners,” Robinson told Afrotech. Robinson said that he has learned many lessons throughout his time working in venture capital, but that maintaining a good reputation is one of the most important ones. “I’ve found that your reputation, value add, and what others say about you as a VC will always be more important than your brand, social media following and what you say about yourself,” Robinson said. Robinson says founders aren’t only basing their decision solely on...

Apr 29, 2019