No Longer Overlooked | Issue 24 | Here's to starting something new 🥂
POV: You're a founder building a startup
Hi there 👋 No Longer Overlooked is 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
What the Overlooked Ventures team is working on
People you should watch
What VCs are doing for overlooked founders today
Tips and advice for founders
What's On My Mind 💭
I’ve been thinking…
Since we launched Overlooked Ventures on May 18th, we’ve had 65 meetings with potential investors and LPs for the fund and received almost 400 startup pitches who applied for funding. We know this is only the beginning and plan to have at least 2,000 meetings to secure the full $50MM fund. That’s the thing about starting something new - you need to have the gumption to go after it, the grit to stick with it, and the patience to know it’s a long journey.
Honestly, starting a fund is very similar to building a business. You begin with the WHY and work backward to the HOW.
We started OV because both my partner and I wanted to make an impact in the startup ecosystem and break down the barriers for entrepreneurs who have struggled far too long to raise capital. Instead of helping them push the boulder up the hill, we wanted to find a way to remove the boulder altogether. And for us, that means giving them capital, resources, and opening our network to them. The WHY is the easy part. It’s the HOW that gets tricky. We know that fundraising can be an 18-month journey and we’re only in month one and a half, so we have a ways to go statistically. But every single meeting we have is one step closer to the goal. Every single “no” is one step closer to a “yes”. And if I’m being honest, I’m enjoying the process. I’m learning new things about venture capital and about myself. This brings me back to the point of doing this all, to begin with. If founders had a chance to enjoy the process by having a little breathing room on the funding, their businesses would be stronger, growth would be faster, and their personal well-being would be more abundant.
If we can all find a way to get a little freedom and enjoy the journey, we won’t have to look for the finish line.
What I’ve Been Working On 💁🏻♀️
Things I care about that I want to share
Overlooked Ventures was highlighted in list of changemakers alongside Backstage Capital, Harlem Capital, Plexo Capital, and a few other VC firms. We are honored to be recognized by OXC – Owned By Color, a company building the biggest community of BIPOC-owned businesses in the world. Read this article to learn more about Overlooked Ventures and other VC firms investing in diverse founders. And while you're there, check out the rest of OXC's website!
Brandon Brooks was a guest on the latest episode of PrimeTime VC, a bi-weekly show that brings on top startup investors to highlight their personalities and expertise. This week's show was all about the hottest summer investment sectors, where Brandon and other prominent VCs weighed in. Brandon also gave his input on other topics such as potential unicorns, the value he and I provide early-stage founders, + much more. Make sure you watch this fun interview to see Overlooked Ventures' co-founding partner and learn more about the hottest sectors in venture capital.
Overlooked Ventures Team Working Hard!
Every Monday we get together for a quick lunchtime chat to go over what we're working on and the goals for the week. The team is now comprised of 12 members all working to make VC more inclusive!
Recently Hit the Stands 📰
Things in the news you should check out
Venture capital funds are starting to invest more in diverse founders. Morgan Stanley surveyed VCs and 43% of them said that investing in companies with a nonwhite founder. Survey participants were a "higher proportion of nonwhite venture capitalists than the industry at large." However, 10.4% of new funds launched were debuted by Black-led firms, which was double from 2019. While investment in Black founders is lower than we'd like to see, it is increasing.
Many VCs pledged to invest more in diverse founders after Black Lives Matter protests began in 2020. Unfortunately, we aren't seeing much progress. Frederik Groce, a partner at Storm Ventures and cofounder of BLCK VC believes that firms are still in the planning period and are figuring out a structured plan and having conversations. This WIRED article discusses the diversity problem in venture capital in-depth and explores what venture capital firms are doing to end the problem.
Tech companies talk a lot about racial equity but the inside of their company doesn't always match up to their statements. While big corporations are recognizing the holiday and condemning lawmakers for limiting the teaching of racism’s role in American history, workplace equity isn't on the rise. The wage gap is increasing, and very few Black employees of big tech are top earners or millionaires.
Crunchbase News read through every sizable recent seed funding round and found a few investment themes. Their analysis highlights labor-saving robotics, mental health, alternative protein and real estate software, which are all seeing a lot of growth. Read to learn more about these industries and why VC firms are projecting industry growth.
A Little Birdie Told Me 🐦
Tweet of the week
Hot Take of the Week 🔥
Somebody had to say it
Walk the Walk 💰
Investors putting their money where their mouth is
Mendoza Ventures is a five-year-old venture capital fund based in Boston. This firm was founded by husband and wife duo, and so far has raised two funds and invested in 10 portfolio companies. Their working to make VC more diverse, and their portfolio companies are 67% people of color, female, and immigrant founders.
Fawn Weaver is a Black woman and the founder of Uncle Nearest, a fast-growing whiskey brand. She's using her success to fund other minority-owned spirits brands. The announcement was timed to the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, and Weaver stated that the $50 million fund was "created to invest in minority (BIPOC and women) founded, owned and led brands with the greatest potential to grow into long-standing legacy brands."
Kauffman Fellows just released the members of their newest cohort! 57 brilliant leaders in VC were chosen and the group collectively representing 18 countries. Our friend Mac Conwell is a part of this amazing bunch. This class is their most diverse one in history (51% people of color & 42% female) with $30.8B in total AUM of investing power.
Based in Indianapolis, venture firm Sixty8 Capital raised $20 million for their fund. The firm, founded by Kelli Jones, is planning on investing in over 24 in more than pre-seed and seed-stage technology startups led by Black, Latinx, women, LGBTQ+ and disabled founders in the Midwest.
SoftBank started the Opportunity Fund shortly after the murder of George Floyd. They committed to funding $100 million to companies led by racial minorities, making it the biggest fund of its kind. Now, a year after their commitment, SoftBank has deployed half the cash and is looking towards creating a second fund to support even more overlooked founders!
Google for Startups is funding Black founders in Africa. Black Founders Fund Africa is investing in early-stage Black-founded startups and startups that are benefitting the Black community on the continent. Africa has a fast-growing technology landscape, and Google for Startups is working to close the gap in funding. Applications close on July 7, 2021. Make sure to get your application in soon if you're located in Africa and meet the criteria.
Richard Wells, Managing Director of the VC firm Insight Partners, and partners at the firm put $15 million of their own capital into Vision Capital 2020 LP Fund. Vision Capital backs minority groups who are actively raising early-stage funds. Wells is confident that this investment is going to bring in returns.
Ryan Hoover and Vedika Jain pulled together 350 LPs to close Fund 3 to back early-stage startups. Afte announcing the community raise idea, people asked how they could do this and what the benefit is over a traditional fund. Ryan breaks down the numbers and details in this post. Congrats to the team and the founders they will back!
What Founders Need to Know 🤔
Advice and resources you didn't know you needed.
Managing your mental health while raising capital isn't easy. Tech Crunch listed out 10 ways entrepreneurs can support their mental health.
Writing marketing copy can be tricky. Jeremy Moser provides 10 copywriting formulas to increase conversions and clicks on your ads, emails, headlines, and landing pages in this Twitter thread.
Interested in starting a microfund? Elizabeth Yin from Hustle Fund shares the mechanics and back-of-the-napkin math in this thread.
Remember it’s OK to say no.
People You Should Follow 👀
Founders and investors making moves
Jewel Burks Solomon, Collab Capital
Jewel Burks Solomon is the Head of Google for Startups in the US and Managing Partner at Collab Capital, a firm that is solving the problem of capital access for Black entrepreneurs. Jewel founded the company partpic which was acquired by Amazon in 2016. Since then, she has been working to increase access to capital for Black entrepreneurs. She is one of the people I look up to the most in this space.
Kelsey Davis, CLLCTVE
Chief Alchemist of CLLCTVE Kelsey Davis founded a portfolio platform connecting creators to the next opportunity that acts as a home for creators to build their world online. She and her team are reimagining the future and giving everyone access to the network, tools, and resources. Before starting her business, she worked at Condé Nast media company and received a Masters of Science in Entrepreneurship and Bachelor of Science in Film at Syracuse University. CLLCTVE is an impressive platform that is making life easier for creators!
Before You Go 🚪
What you might have missed.
Venture capital micro funds are bringing in big returns. Read about these funds and our friends at Hustle fund in this article.
Read about the 50 women over 50 who are proving that success can be achieved at any age.
These states are growing the fastest in venture capital.
We need to fund diverse founders. Here's why.
McKinsey published a report about closing racial gaps across the economy. I broke it down in this thread.
Thanks for reading! I’ll catch you next time. And don’t forget to share No Longer Overlooked with your community!