Let’s Start Up - Issue 38 | Speaking Out 🗣
POV: You're a founder building a startup
Hi there 👋 Welcome to Let’s Start Up a newsletter, curated by me, Janine Sickmeyer, a tech founder turned investor. Follow me as I share startup tips, industry news, founders you should know, and investors putting their money where their mouth is.
What's In This Issue 🗞
A brief look into what you'll be reading about
My experience at Collision ‘22
Startup and VC news
What VCs are saying about Roe v. Wade
Two founders you should follow
Last week, I hit the big stage for the first time as a venture capitalist at Collision Conference. If you told me 10 years ago I’d be presenting at a conference with a crowd of 35,000 people in real life and with bright lights on me, I would have thought you were crazy.
Until very recently, I had a fear of public speaking. Anytime a speaking opportunity came my way, I would politely pass it to someone I felt was more experienced to talk on the topic. I found my voice once I started talking and standing up for what I believe in: investing in and supporting overlooked founders. Sure, the last two years helped a lot. I was able to build up my confidence and practice by doing virtual speaking engagements, podcast interviews, and Twitter spaces.
When I was asked to speak at Collision, I jumped at the opportunity to head to Toronto and talk about my passion and purpose. In 2013, I exhibited at the first Collision Conference to pitch my first company. It was full circle to go back to that same conference and speak as a venture capitalist.
The conference itself blew me away. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm and passion of founders. Although, not all of the energy at the conference was positive. Big names in VC are warning of a recession and Twitter is full of doom and gloom. In real life, VCs are also urging founders to cut their valuations, put a pause on fundraising, and expand their runway warning of a future recession.
For founders, this advice is scary. Founders look to experienced VCs for guidance and don’t take their words lightly. We should be careful about what we say, and how we say it.
I’m not saying we should sugarcoat for the sake of founders, however, there’s a lot to come from taking a positive approach. As a venture capitalist, I’m encouraging founders to keep up with the news and not discouraging them from building their company and growing how they feel is best for them at this time.
And let’s get real. Historically-ignored founders aren’t seeing the same negative impact on their valuations because they never had the privilege to inflate them in the first place.
Overall, Collision Conference was a great experience. I spoke on two panels with startup and venture capital leaders I admire, as well as met some amazing women fund managers. Read my Medium post for a full recap.
What I’ve Been Working On 💁🏻♀️
Things I care about that I want to share
Looking for a part-time audio/video editor
I’m hiring for a secret project! DM me on Twitter if you are a Media Manager who specializes in audio and video.
Women in Tech at Collision Conference
Grit Daily News reported live on Collision Conference in Toronto and reported on women in tech at the conference. Loralyn Mears PhD covered my panel “Moving Past Male, Pale, and Stale: Increasing Diversity in VC” with Charles Hudson of Precursor Ventures and Jamison Hill of Base10. Read this article to also meet some of the amazing women in tech and VC at the Collision Conference.
Recently Hit the Stands 📰
Things in the news you should check out
Is This 31-Year-Old The First Black Woman In New Jersey To Raise More Than $1 Million?
Last year, Black women received 0.35% of all startup venture funding. Ashley Edwards, the founder of Mindright, a company that provides mental health services to underserved teens via SMS text messaging, announced a $1.8 million seed round. She was able to successfully raise capital, making her most likely the first Black Woman in New Jersey to raise more than $1 Million.
Founders: It’s time to look beyond VCs, and approach angel investors
During the TNW Conference, angel investors took the stage to bring some comfort to founders during a time of uncertainty. Angel investors are excited to back founders during a time when many VCs are sitting out on deals. In this session, Tim Mills, Managing Partner at the ACF Investors Angel CoFund, explained the pros of accepting investments from angels.
A trio of founders offer lessons on ‘fundraising while Black’ in Techstars panel discussion
Around 1% of all venture dollars goes to Black founders, according to Crunchbase. It’s clear that black founders have a difficult time fundraising. Although the statistics are bleak, many Black founders have successfully raised large amounts of capital. Three Techstars Alumni spoke at Startup Hall at the University of Washington during an event called “Fundraising while Black.”
How Organizations Can Support Women Entrepreneurs And Avoid Performative Action
Many women founders are subjected to unhealthy competition by the way of public-voting pitch competitions. In this Forbes article, Lou Elliott-Cysewski*,* Co-founder and CEO of Coolperx, shares ways organizations can support women entrepreneurs. Some of the ways she presents are merit-based grants and accelerator programs.
Black Gen Z VCs are here and swinging for the fences
More and more Black VCs are starting their own funds to invest in overlooked founders. Now, we are seeing more Black Gen Zs become venture capitalists. This new crop of VCs are starting younger than ever — and like Walker, they’ve set their sights high. Dazayah Walker and Johnathan Moore are just two of the Black Gen Z’s emerging in venture capital.
Which Startup Sectors Are The Bulls And Bears In 2022’s Sluggish VC Market?
While there is an overall VC slowdown, some industries still remain strong. And on the other side, some industries are performing worse than others. Crunchbase published an article taking a closer look at a few of the most bullish and bearish startup industries midway through 2022.
AgriTech Startups Are Empowering Farmers to Feed The World While Protecting The Planet
Artificial intelligence is being leveraged in the agriculture industry to help farmers feed while preserving land and protecting natural resources. These new tools give farmers insights that empower them to reduce costs while increasing productivity and sustainability. Read this article from Crunchbase to learn about three agritech startups.
After a brief streak, venture capital has ditched Black startups
According to new data from Crunchbase, VC funding dropped significantly in the second quarter of 2022, and Black founders were hit even worse. Startups with at least one Black founder received 1.2% of overall venture dollars invested in the U.S.
Aidaly makes sure family caregivers get financial compensation
Founder and CEO Maggie Norris started Aidaly to help family caregivers find sources for compensation and financial aid. The company just closed an $8.5MM seed round led by Seven Seven Six with participation from several other firms like Lightspeed Venture Partners and Precursor Ventures.
It’s time for LPs to take more responsibility in the fight for economic equality
McKeever Conwell, founder of RareBreed Ventures said, ”If LPs aren’t allocating more money to diverse funds or managers, then, in some ways, there will always be a dearth of capital that can — and possibly will — be allocated to diverse founders.” In this TechCrunch article, read why we need to put pressure on LPs to back more funds that prioritize diversity, support diverse funds and managers, and create specialized funds to invest in diverse founders.
P&G Ventures and Transparent Collective highlight challenges for minority entrepreneurs
Transparent Collective is a nonprofit that helps early-stage overlooked founders scale and break down barriers. The collective released a report about the disadvantages Black, Latinx, and women face when starting a business and suggestions for change.
Black LPs fuel a16z’s third Cultural Leadership Fund
Andreessen Horowitz announced the launch of its third Cultural Leadership Fund (CLF), led by partner Megan Holston-Alexander. a16z did not specify the fund’s amount, but TechCrunch speculates it at around $18 million. So far, a16z revealed the following singers that invested in the fund like Pharrell Williams, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, and Lionel Ritchie. This third CLF will co-invest with a16z’s main funds similar to the previous two CLFs.
Who’s Speaking Out 🗣
Investors and companies commenting on and offering support after devastating overruling of Roe v. Wade.
Katelin Holloway, Seven Seven Six
Seven Seven Six created a Reproductive Autonomy Resource Guide with templates, sample policies, and advice on how to create inclusive policy.
Krista wrote her thoughts on the overturn of Roe v. Wade as a mother, a daughter, a colleague, an investor, an advisor, and a friend
The Bessemer company account tweeted about how fundamental it is for all people to make the necessary decisions about their own bodies.
Aileen urged us all to remember where we were, what we were doing, and how we felt when Roe was overturned. She hopes that this day will inspire us to fight more deeply for reproductive rights and equality.
Companies offering Abortion Care Policies
Companies such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Patagonia are offering support to their employees in regard to abortion care and reproductive rights. In this article, Allyson Kapin explains why businesses should take action.
And some aren’t saying anything at all.
A Little Birdie Told Me 🐦
Tweet of the moment
Hot Take of the Week 🔥
Somebody had to say it
Founders You Should Follow 👀
Keep an eye on these founders making moves
Amanda Goetz | House of Wise
Founder & CEO, Amanda Goetz is leading House of Wise, a luxury CBD company and community for women. House of Wise empowers people to take control of their stress, sex, sleep, strength, and wealth with luxury full-spectrum CBD. I am a huge fan of Amanda and her company! I found her on Twitter after she used her voice to support women business owners, then we became close friends during the pandemic and started a (short-lived) weekly show on Clubhouse called Founder Fridays. After House of Wise launched, I fell in love with the sleep and stress gummies and have been taking them now for over a year. Amanda has made it her mission to support and empower women through her business and in her personal life. She is a powerhouse and I’m lucky to also call her a friend. Shop House of Wise’s luxury CBD and learn about the benefits of CBD here. And a little birdie told me they might be raising an insider’s round. To invest, reach out to her.
Blessing Adesiyan | Mother Honestly
Blessing Adesiyan is the Founder and CEO of Mother Honestly, a work-life care platform for employers and employee caregivers. Blessing is a mother of four and prior to starting Mother Honestly, she worked at Fortune 100 companies for 15+ years and received a BSc. in Chemical Engineering, an MSc. in Energy Management, and an MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. She is also an international speaker. Mother Honestly offers several solutions for working caregivers such as a membership that provides tools and resources, advising sessions with the MotherBoard, and corporate membership for employers. Learn more about Mother Honestly on their website.
Deadline to Apply 📆
Opportunities and events you don’t want to miss
Tiger Global Impact Ventures, Hello Alice, and the Global Entrepreneurship Network is granting up to $50,000 to women building breakthrough technologies or tech-enabled companies through the Accelerate(HER) fund.
Kabila Conversation with David Cohen | Tues., July 5 at 11:30am
Kabila is bringing on Techstars co-founder David Cohen to talk about how to overcome investment objections and secure a yes from investors. This workshop is typically only offered for Techstars founders but you can see it for free by joining the Kabila community.
New on the Founders Library! 📚
Founder resources from Cobble
Welcome to the newest section of the Let’s Start Up newsletter! In this section, we’re sharing articles, downloads, and more from Cobble’s Founders Library. These materials are FREE, all you have to do is sign up for a Cobble account.
Download: Investor Profile Template
Raising capital and finding investors is a time-consuming task for many startup founders. The Investor Profile Template helps you find and research angel investors and VCs so that you can audit potential sources of capital.
Download: Competitive Analysis Template
Understand the market and your competitors with this Competitive Analysis template. Focus your research, and see how your startup stacks up to the competition with this fillable table.
Article: Creating Culture in a Remote Team
When everyone is in the office, working in the same space, it’s easier to cultivate a positive work-life. Now that many organizations are fully remote, they’ve had to pivot and rethink their approach to work culture. But all it takes is effort and a little guidance. Read for tips for maintaining a positive culture in a remote work environment.
Article: How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Your Startup
Content marketing is one of the most powerful tools your startup can use to gain industry awareness. Whether you're B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer), blogging will do wonders for your startup!
Sign up for Cobble to get access to all of these resources and more (it’s free).
New Funds Announced 🚀
Recently launched venture funds
Octopus Ventures launched its first-ever pre-seed fund of £10m for European startups. The new firm is founded and led by Maria Rotilu and Kirsten Connell. Octopus Ventures’ portfolio will be made up of at least 40% female founders and 30% ethnic minority founders.
Sara Brand and Kerry Rupp recently closed on $35 million for their second fund. True Wealth is based in Austin, Texas and invests in seed-stage startups led by women.
MaC Venture Capital announced the launch of their $203M Fund II after proving their thesis through their first fund. The firm is led by four founding general partners including Marlon Nichols, Adrian Fenty, Michael Palank, and Charles D. King.
What you need to know
One of the best things you can do as a CEO is make something that really needs to happen someone’s job, says Kieran Snyder.
Nobody talks about the post-acquisition or company exit life. It’s okay to have a period of grief and a feeling of loss of purpose.
A down run refers to when you need to drop your share price to raise more money. Here’s how your company can survive it.
Long Time Listener 🎧
Podcasts & videos you should listen to
From Kitchen Table to $134M Fund II; Raising Your First Time Fund | 20VC
Henri Pierre-Jacques, the Managing Partner of Harlem Capital, joins Harry Stebbings to share his lessons learned from raising his first fund. The fund started at a kitchen table with Harlem Capital Co-Founder Jarrid Tingle and has grown to an oversubscribed $134 million fund. In this episode of the 20VC, Henri will talk about his journey to venture capital, his first fundraising with Harlem Capital, building the firm’s strategy, and Harlem Capital’s commitment to change the face of entrepreneurship and investing.
How investors are playing offense right now (their words, our two cents) | Equity Podcast
Partner at January Ventures Jennifer Neundorfer goes on the Equity Podcast by TechCrunch to talk about why it's actually a good time to invest in early-stage founders despite the doom & gloom floating around in the venture capital space. Listen to this episode for more insights from investors on the current venture capital market.
Why your startup pitch deck slide title are probably terrible! | Uncapped Notes
Eric Bahn of Hustle Fund launched a new series called Uncapped Notes with Janel Spilker, where the two will demystify VC on YouTube. The first episode is all about pitch deck titles. Eric Bahn explains what a good startup pitch deck slide title looks like and why founders need to design their pitch decks to be skimmable. Watch it now — it’s only 8 minutes but full of great insights.
Before You Go 🚪
What you might have missed.
Meet the 776 Foundation inaugural 2022 Climate Fellows Cohort.
Cristiano Ronaldo signed a deal with crypto exchange Binance and will work with the digital asset firm to create a collection of NFTs.
Zendesk will be acquired for $10.2B.
New creator monetization tools are coming to Facebook and Instagram
Don’t confuse risk management with not funding diverse founders.
Overlooked Ventures wouldn’t exist with her.
The future of storytelling is Campfire.