Successful Black Venture Capitalists
For a long time, the venture capital ecosystem has been associated with a lack of diversity and representation, with a disproportionately low number of Minorities, Black and Latinx women holding positions in the industry. However, in recent years, there has been a push to increase diversity in venture capital, including efforts to promote and support successful Black venture capitalists.
Either as an early stage venture firm or as a private equity firm, the number of funds investing in early stage technology companies has grown. So too has the presence of Black investors who are making a significant impact in the industry..
This blog post shares some important facts about successful Black venture capitalists, and sheds light on their experiences and contributions to the world of venture capital.
- The racial wealth gap still exists, in part by difference in the number of Black venture capitalists and the size of funding they get
- Only about 1.3% of U.S. venture capital money went to Black-founded businesses and only 3% of investment professionals at venture capital firms identify as Black or African American
- The first Black venture capital firm founded in the United States is considered to be the Harlem Business Alliance's (HBA) Venture Fund, which was launched in 1991
- The largest Black-owned venture capital firm in the United States is Vista Equity Partners
The contents of this article are for educational purposes only. They are not intended to be a source of professional financial advice. You will find experts on financial planning, financial management, and real estate here. More on disclaimers here.
Important Facts About Black Venture Capital Firms
Here are some important facts about Black-owned venture capital firms and Black VCs.
What Percentage of Funding goes to Black VCs?
According to Crunchbase data, only about 1.3% of U.S. venture capital money went to Black-founded businesses in 2021.
Within the Black demographic, women still remain particularly underserved. In 2021, women-only founded companies received only 2% of US venture capital dollars invested in the first half of the year. The irony is that female-led and owned businesses make more money. In 2020 alone, 64% of new women-owned businesses were started by women of color.
In 2020, the conversation on diversity and inclusion re-emerged as protests took place as a result of police killings of several Black Americans. At this time, key players in the VC industry vowed to work towards more inclusivity in order to deal with the inequality that currently exists in the industry.
How Many Black Venture Capitalists are There?
The exact number of Black venture capitalists in the US is difficult to determine as there is no centralized database or directory of venture capitalists categorized by race or ethnicity. However, according to a report by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and Deloitte published in 2021, only 3% of investment professionals at venture capital firms identify as Black or African American.
This suggests that the number of Black venture capitalists in the US is relatively small compared to other racial and ethnic groups. However, it's worth noting that there are efforts underway to increase diversity and inclusion in the venture capital industry, including the formation of organizations such as BLCK VC and initiatives like the Diversity Rider, which encourages venture capitalists to commit to considering diverse candidates when making investment decisions. These efforts could help increase the number of Black venture capitalists in the US over time.
What was the First Black VC Fund?
The first Black venture capital firm founded in the United States is considered to be the Harlem Business Alliance's (HBA) Venture Fund, which was launched in 1980. The HBA Venture Fund was established with the goal of providing equity capital to early-stage companies owned by people of color in the New York City area.
The HBA Venture Fund was initially capitalized with $1 million from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency. The fund went on to invest in a range of companies across various sectors, including technology, healthcare, and retail.
Since the HBA Venture Fund, other Black-led venture capital firms have emerged, including Base10 Partners, Harlem Capital, and MaC Venture Capital. These firms are working to increase diversity in the venture capital industry and provide capital and support to underrepresented founders.
What is the largest Black-owned VC?
The largest Black-owned venture capital firm in the United States is Vista Equity Partners, which was founded by Robert F. Smith in 2000. Vista Equity Partners is based in Austin, Texas, and manages over $96 billion in assets under management as of 2022.
Although Vista Equity Partners is not exclusively focused on investing in companies founded by Black entrepreneurs, the firm has made significant investments in diverse-led businesses. In 2019, Vista Equity Partners launched the Vista Equity Partners Endeavor Fund, which focuses on providing growth capital to enterprise software companies led by diverse founders, including Black, Latinx, and female entrepreneurs.
Other notable Black-owned venture capital firms in the US include Harlem Capital, which was founded in 2015 and has raised over $135 million to invest in diverse-led businesses, and MaC Venture Capital, which was founded in 2018 and has made investments in startups across various sectors, including healthcare, fintech, and consumer products.
Where is the Black Angel Tech Fund Located?
The Black Angel Tech Fund is a venture capital fund that focuses on investing in early-stage tech startups founded by Black entrepreneurs. The fund is not based in a single location, but rather operates virtually and invests in companies across the United States.
The fund was founded by Atlanta-based entrepreneur and investor, Aaron Walker, in partnership with several other Black angel investors. The fund seeks to address the lack of access to funding and support for Black-led startups, which has been identified as a major barrier to diversity and representation in the tech industry.
In addition to providing capital to Black entrepreneurs, the Black Angel Tech Fund also offers mentorship, networking opportunities, and other resources to help founders grow and scale their businesses. The fund has made investments in companies across various sectors, including healthcare, fintech, and consumer products.
Where is Black VC Headquarters?
There is no one headquarters or central location for Black VC, as it is not a single organization or firm. Rather, Black VC is a term used to refer to Black professionals who work in the venture capital industry, including investors, entrepreneurs, and others who are committed to increasing diversity and representation in the field.
However, there are several organizations that focus on promoting diversity and inclusion in venture capital and supporting Black professionals in the industry. For example, BLCK VC is a non-profit organization that provides resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities for Black investors and other professionals in venture capital. The organization is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has members across the US.
Other organizations that support diversity and inclusion in venture capital include DiversityVC, a platform that connects underrepresented founders with investors, and the National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC), which focuses on supporting diverse-owned private equity firms and investors. These organizations are based in various locations across the US.
Who is the CEO of BLCK VC?
Mandy Bynum is the newly appointed CEO of BLCK VC. The founder and former CEO is Frederik Groce. Groce co-founded BLCK VC in 2018 with the mission of increasing diversity in venture capital by empowering Black investors and supporting Black entrepreneurs. He is a former investor at Storm Ventures and a graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Under Groce's leadership, BLCK VC grew to become a prominent organization in the venture capital industry, providing resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities for Black investors and other professionals. The organization has also launched initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion in venture capital, such as the Black Venture Institute, a program that provides training and mentorship to emerging Black investors.
Top Black Venture Capitalists
Here are some excellent Black venture capitalists who are making great strides in the industry.
Arian Simone is a woman who wears many hats. She is not only the President and Chief Executive Officer of Fearless Fund, a venture capital firm for women of color founders building scalable companies, but also a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, angel investor, best-selling author, and PR & Marketing expert.
With over 17 years of entrepreneurial experience, she is on a mission to inspire millennial entrepreneurial women by systematically tackling the inequalities that exist in the venture capital industry that often make Black women be left behind. As the co-founder and investor in the Fearless Fund, a fund built by women of color for women of color; Simone invests in businesses led by women of colour seeking pre-seed, seed or series A financing.
Arian received her MBA from Florida A&M. With the professional background that she's had, she has managed to create significant relationships in the entertainment industry with billion-dollar corporate clients such as the Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures and many more.
Arielle Loren is the founder of 100K Incubator, a business funding mobile app for women that is the first of its kind. It's available on both Apple and Google’s app stores. Loren's mission is to help 100,000 women who are early stage entrepreneurs get the necessary funding for their businesses in order to scale to $100K+ in annual sales.
Previously, she worked in consulting and fundraising where she worked with top brands and start ups. Her client work, writing and speaking engagements have been featured in various media outlets including FastCompany, TechCrunch, Huffington Post, SXSW, and NPR.
She also holds a graduate certificate in International Business Management from Georgetown University, and a bachelor’s degree in Social and Cultural Analysis and a certificate in Producing from New York University. She is also holder of a master’s degree in Management and graduate certificate in Strategic Management from Harvard University.
Arlan Hamilton is the Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a venture capital fund that she built from the ground up in 2015 while she was homeless. The fund is aimed at reducing the funding gap that exists in the tech industry.
Backstage invests in founders who are people of color, women and/ or LGBT and who have high potential. To date, Backstage Capital has managed to raise more than $15 million and invested in more than 170 startup companies led by founders who were underrated. In 2018 Hamilton co-founded Backstage Studio which launched four accelerator programs for underrated founders in Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and London.
In October 2018, she was the first Black woman, who wasn't a celebrity to feature on the cover of Fast Company magazine.
Austin Clements is the co-founder of Slauson & Co, a pre-seed and seed-stage venture capital firm based in LA. The firm focuses on sustainable economic inclusion and is backed by PayPal, Ashton Kutcher, will.i.am, True Capital Management and Alpaca VC.
Previously, he served as the Chair of PledgeLA, Annenberg Foundation and also as a former Principal at TenOneTen Ventures. While serving here, he invested in more than 50 companies across two funds, with a primary focus on on B2B and SaaS. Some of these companies include Ordermark, CREXi, Emotive, Second Spectrum, and Daily. When working with entrepreneurs and businesses, Austin's primary focus is usually on tools and platforms that support these small businesses.
As an advocate of diversity and inclusion in the LA tech ecosystem, Austin was a founding Chair for PledgeLA, an initiative that promotes diversity & equity, community engagement and accountability collectively among tech companies and CV firms based in LA and that are trying to create significant change.
Austin is a graduate of Morehouse college and is a holder of an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business. Currently, he's also a Kauffman Fellow.
David T. ibnAle
David ibnAle is a Founding and Managing Partner of Advance Venture Partners. Prior to co-founding AVP, he served as the Managing Director of TPG Growth, where he led the global technology investing efforts. Before joining TPG Growth, he served as Partner at Francisco Partners, and he began his investing career at Summit Partners.
He has over twenty years of experience as an investor in small and mid-sized growth companies in the technology, media and communications sectors.
David received an AB in Public Policy and an AM in International Development Policy from Stanford University and received an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
He serves as a member of the board of director of these companies: Above Average, Hytrust, Nativo, Unified Enterprises, UrbanSitter, and UCT Holdings.
Erik Moore is the founder and Managing Partner of Base Ventures. Prior to this, he served as a top performer in investment banking at Merrill Lynch. As he was working here, he invested as an angel investor in companies like Zappos which was sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion, Agencourt Biosciences which was sold to Beckman Coulter for $270 million and PlanGrid. With the support that he received and the success that he was able to achieve, he decided to get into investing world full time.
Erik earned his BA from Dartmouth College, his MA in International Studies/French from the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, and his MBA from The Wharton School of Business. He regularly speaks at Silicon Valley Wharton and Dartmouth events.
In 2013, Business Insider named him one of the ten most influential blacks in Silicon Valley. In 2016, he was recognized with the Next Generation of Excellence Achievement Award by the Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce. In 2017, he received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from The Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, Wharton’s Trailblazer Award for his achievements in venture capital, and was named a Ford Man of Courage. Today, Erik is considered as one of the most prominent African Americans in tech.
Erik also serves as a board member of The Common Ground Foundation founded by award-winning artist, Common.
Jarrid Tingle is Managing Partner of Harlem Capital. Harlem Capital is a venture capital firm that aims at revolutionizing entrepreneurship by investing in 1,000 diverse founders over the next 20 years.
Previously, Jarrid worked as a Private Equity Investment Professional at ICV Partners. Before that, he was an Investment Banker in the Global Technology, Media & Telecommunications Group at Barclays.
He earned his MBA from Harvard Business School (HBS) in 2019 where he was a Baker Scholar. Prior to getting his MBA, Jarrid graduated cum laude from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Concentration in Finance.
In 2019, Jarrid was featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 list, Inc. 30 under 30 list, and the 2018 Ebony Power 100 list.
During his free time, Jarrid’s enjoys reading, weight training, traveling, and attending concerts.
Melissa Bradley is the current Managing Partner of DC-based 1863 Ventures. She also serves as the co-founder of Ureeka, a venture backed community of over 10,000 small businesses gaining access to the expertise that they need to grow and scale their businesses. In addition, she's also a community leader, a professor, an excellent and dynamic speaker and advocate for people of color in tech. Under former presidents Clinton and Obama's regimes, Melissa served as a Presidential Appointee.
In 2015, Melissa launched Project 500 in Washington, DC with the aim of helping 500 founders who were underrepresented, scale their companies. This venture succeeded beyond her expectation and that's when she decided to get into the venture capital industry.
Working with different founders who are people of color steered her in the direction of advisory. Today she serves as an advisor to the New Voices Foundation and New Voices Fund, run by Rich Dennis of Essence as well as the Halcyon Fund.
Sarah Kunst is the Managing Director of Cleo Capital & a contributing editor at Marie Claire Magazine. Previously, she served as a senior advisor at Bumble where she focused on their corporate VC arm Bumble Fund. She was also on the board of the Michigan State University Foundation endowment.
Today, just about 4% startups that are female-led are run by Black women. Kunst is one of them, managing Cleo Capital with an extensive portfolio. So far, she have invested in and advised over 40 companies in total. She has also worked in some of the top companies globally, including Apple, Red Bull, Chanel, and Mohr Davidow Ventures, among others.
Kunst was also the founder ProDay, an LA Dodgers-backed app. It's a subscription workout app that allows users to workout alongside professional athletes and fitness celebs. She is a force to be reckoned with and she’s on a mission to change the odds and help more Black women achieve their dreams.
Kunst has been named a Future Innovator by Vanity Fair, Forbes Magazine 30 under 30 and a top 25 innovator in tech by Cool Hunting. She has been recognized for her work in Business Insider as a 30 under 30 Woman in Tech and Top African-American in Tech & Pitchbook Top Black VC To Watch and honored as a top woman in VC by the Wall St. Journal.
Marlon Nichols is the founding Managing Partner at MaC Venture Capital. MaC Venture Capital is a seed-stage venture capital firm that invests in enterprising founders building who are on a mission to build a brighter future that will benefit humanity.
Marlon is a Kauffman Fellow who also serves on the Board of Directors. Before founding MaC Venture Capital, Marlon was founder of Cross Culture Ventures and served as Investment Director at Intel Capital. Marlon has a comprehensive background in technology, private equity, media and entertainment. Among the successful companies under his portfolio include Blavity, Gimlet Media, LISNR, Mayvenn, MongoDB, among others.
Marlon is the recipient of MVMT50’s SXSW 2018 Innovator of the Year award, Digital Diversity’s Innovation & Inclusion Change Agent award and was a TechWeek 100 winner. He was named Pitchbook’s 25 Black Founders and VCs to Watch in 2018, 2019 and 2020, and one of Silicon Republic’s 26 VC professionals spearheading change. He’s been featured on TechCrunch, Fortune, Cheddar, MSNBC, Blavity and NBC, and is adjunct faculty in entrepreneurship and venture capital at the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University.
Bay Street Capital Holdings
Bay Street Capital Holdings is an independent investment advisory, wealth management, and financial planning firm headquartered in Palo Alto, CA. They manage portfolios with the goal of maintaining and increasing total assets and income with a high priority on managing total risk and volatility. Although many advisors may focus on maximizing returns, they place a higher priority on managing total risk and volatility.
Our founder, William Huston founded Bay Street after 13 years of supporting the United States' largest retirement plan ($650B) Thrift Savings Plan. He is recognized as Investopedia’s Top 100 Financial Advisors for 2021. In California, only two black-owned firms out of nineteen firms received this recognition.
In Scottsdale Arizona, Ekenna Anya-Gafu CFP, AAMS is recognized among the Best Financial Advisors for his responsiveness, friendliness, helpfulness, and detail. Bay Street was founded to advocate for diverse and emerging fund managers and entrepreneurs. In 2021, Bay Street was selected as a finalist out of over 900 firms across the US in the category of Asset Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).