Screening For BIPoC Innovation By Engaging In The Community
According to a research report published by January Ventures in 2021, which includes the voices of 63% of early stage founders who identified as women, 53% who identified as BIPoC and 46% who identified as parents from the US or Europe, finding a lead investor and ‘landing a warm intro’ marked the biggest challenges in raising capital in the last 18 months. Whereas founders were not doubting their skills with regard to pitches, Zoom and negotiating contract terms, the biggest hurdle remained the first impression – something, which we have limited control on.
As indicated in the last articles, the first impression we make is often not only up to us. Internalized stereotypes and other biases determine what another person thinks about us initially and, tendentially, similarity (to ourselves) is perceived as preferable, when meeting someone new. This portrait starts with the argument that active community engagement can circumvent the curse of the first impression as well as that of similarity. And active community engagement starts with representation. Thereafter, it includes the effort to attend events that relate to particular sub-communities and minorities. Ready for a tour? Here are…
5 Inspiring Women BIPoC Founders from the US
- Tammie Denyse
Tammie Denyse is an inspiring storyteller, author of the book ‘The Power of Hope: Reclaiming Your Lift After Tragedy’, TED talker (listen to: ‘toxic strength’ via the link) and co-founder and president of the company Carrie’s Touch, which has released the ‘Survive and Thrive’ breast cancer app, which seeks to “humanize the black woman and her experience with breast cancer”. Based on Denyse’s strong commitment to support affected women and her view that ‘toxic strength’ should be avoided to consciously feel the pain, which life confronts us with and is undeniable, the app allows its users to grief, meditate, pray, receive additional help through support and facebook groups. Beyond that, the app provides links to free/low-cost therapy, oncologists, financial resources etc. As Denyse emphasized in her TED talk, no matter how strong someone is – everyone has the right to grieve, be soft and be validated with their pain rather than told to ‘move on’…
“And for the first time in my life I realized that my strength was toxic. Toxic strength is the idea that people of a certain ethnic background or with a history of hardships can endure an incredible amount of difficulties […] Toxic strength is being knocked down over and over […] again and never giving yourself permission to stay down for a while. Stay down and give yourself permission to release those screams”‘Toxic Strength’, TED Talk with Tammie Denyse
- Michelle Zhu and Tammy Hsu
Dr. Tammy Hsu and Michelle Zhu are co-founders of Huue, a San Francisco-based biotechnology start-up that provides “indigo dyeing solutions intended to reduce chemical usage in the denim supply chain”. Embracing a worldview based on sustainability and value-oriented leadership, Zhu has been setting up partnerships with fashion brands so that their solutions can get on the market. Meanwhile Dr. Hsu, chief scientific officer at Huue, has been investigating how colours are made in nature to stand up against the usage of harmful synthetics in the fashion industry. As Hsu told the MIT Technology Review,
“The chemical industry has had 100 years to hone their process and make it cost efficient. We were founded two years ago. We’re trying to catch up with that. That’s one of our biggest goals, to drive down the price of our process”‘2021 Entrepreneurs’, MIT Technology Review
- Diana Melencio
As all her fellow BIPoC entrepreneurs, Diana Melencio is quite a powerful professional. Having co-founded two companies, namely OkMyOutfit and Quinn, having been an early stage investor at Wise Ventures for several years and currently being a partner at XRC Labs, a VC fund and accelerator in the domains of retail technology and consumer goods, Melencio’s career is truly remarkable. But the D&I activist’s career did not start as an entrepreneur. Instead it started as a consultant and as an analyst at Wall Street. As Melencio reveals in an interview at XRC Labs,
“Yeah, I started my career in traditional finance, working at large $12 dollar plus funds […] and then I’ve always had this itch of starting something on my own. So I started a couple of companies. The first one was OkMyOutfit, which is a mobile app that connected people with personal stylists. And then Quinn, which was an XRC Cohort 1 company, was a shopping logistics platform that connected consumers directly with multibrand retailers”‘Meet Diana Melencio, Partner at XRC Labs’, XRC Labs
- Regina Gwynn
Regina Gwynn is a co-founder of Black Women Talk Tech, a community which seeks to “identify, support and encourage black women to build the next billion dollar business”. Offering business growth support, access to capital, programmes and events and a network of well-educated experts and mentors, Black Women Talk Tech acts as a racial and gender equality advocate within the tech start-up scene. Raising awareness about reputable opportunities for black founders, such as to join the Microsoft Black Partner Growth Initiative and events such as the Roadmap to Billions Conference, which took place in June 2022, the Black Women Talk Tech community, this community stays on top of the most exciting and relevant events to kickstart the career of black women entrepreneurs. As Gwynn said in the Podcast Let’s Talk Sales…
“We’re trying to build the next Uber, the next Fresh Direct […] You’re able to get to a certain level by yourself […], but how do you make it from a million to ten billion revenue, how do you get from a ten million to a hundred million revenue? Those are the untold stories that we […] tell at our conferences”‘Re-Air: Building connections with Regina Gwynn’, Let’s Talk Sales
- Jihan Thompson
Jihan Thompson is the co-founder of Swivel Beauty, which was founded in 2016 in New York so that black women can find the best “hair stylists and salons for their unique hair type and structure”. Whereas it was Thompson’s childhood dream to become a writer, the world of entrepreneurship possibly called for this inspiring lady, because her philosophy is to “‘eat the frog first’” – that is, to start every new day of life with the hardest and scariest task! Rather than avoiding challenges, Thompson has thus been seeking them out, which might explain her profound background in editing and digital content strategies. Having worked for both the Oprah Magazine, the Redbook Magazine and Marie Claire, it is no wonder that Swivel Beauty’s blog looks quite ‘handsome’. As Thompson underlines, being handsome requires finding someone who is best skilled to recognize your natural beauty and show it off…
“Swivel’s mission is all about helping women of colour find hairstyles and hair salons that can work with their hair type and texture. It’s all about making sure that they feel their best, the most beautiful at all times”Swivel Beauty, Jihan Thompson
As A Brief Reminder Before Closing Off…
- The funding gap for women and BIPoC entrepreneurs in 2021 was huge. In the US, women and BIPoC entrepreneurs raised $494 million – which made up for 0,34% of the overall venture capital expenditure. Find out more here!
- Latinx start-ups raised $6,8 billion in venture capital in the US in 2021. Whereas the latter marked an increase as compared to 2017, Latinx start-ups earned only 2% of the overall capital expenditure in the US. Find out more here!
- The average deal size that black founders raise has been increasing, however the average CAGR of black founders was -7% from 2016 to 2020, when it amounted to 19% for non-black founders. Find out more here!
If the latter made you angry and you are seeking to support the BIPoC community through your unique start-up or scale-up idea, then we will gladly support you on the legal side! Our team is both specialized in supporting multicultural businesses in Germany, in supporting African businesses in Germany and in supporting businesses across various African jurisdictions. While our support starts with providing help on immigration and relocation matters, it does not stop there – taxes, tech, intellectual property…You heard us! Contact us today to find out more!