Hi there 👋 Welcome to No Longer Overlooked, 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 thoughts on changes to the VC space
Startups to watch
Founders to follow
New funds announced
What's On My Mind 💭
I’ve been thinking…
I started writing this newsletter one year ago as a way to create a community of entrepreneurs, investors, and friends who support and encourage each other, celebrate overlooked founders, and share startup and venture news in an approachable and easy-to-understand way.
Since then, I've grown this newsletter to over 2K subscribers (which is great) but beyond that, we've done so much more together! I've learned about your businesses and we've even created a Slack community of over 650 founders and entrepreneurs.
The changes we've seen in the startup ecosystem in the past year are confusing and I hope to be a bridge to help founders and friends understand it a bit better so we don't keep leaving people out.
Established venture capital firms are starting to overtake the Seed market, and the problem with this is that they continue to back founders in their circles who already have connections. This cycle must end!
Emerging Fund Managers like myself are trying to disrupt and break VC. Overlooked Ventures, and many other EFMs out there, want to make an impact on the people receiving the funding, and we know we have to start somewhere to break the cycle.
I outlined more in this post to share why it's important to back Emerging Fund Managers. Like my friend and seasoned VC, Frank Rotman says, "Investors who do the work to understand opportunities holistically will have an edge because they’re playing a different game than everyone else."
And it’s true. What we know at Overlooked Ventures is that to change the game, we have to fight the odds and fund systemically marginalized founders when they need it most — from day one.
What I’ve Been Working On 💁🏻♀️
Things I care about that I want to share
Founders Slack Group
If you're looking for a community of peers, support, and startup/vc talk, join Overlooked Ventures' Slack Community. We have a ton of founders and VCs already signed up and chatting away. There are various channels based on different topics ranging from founder tips, asking for beta founders, and so much more. Get access here.
I am so full of good news, I could just burst and my happiness would fall all over you like confetti. The next few months are going to be fun. Stay close. You won't want to miss all of this. 🎊
Weekly Twitter Spaces with Brandon
My business partner Brandon Brooks is hosting weekly Twitter Spaces chats with startup founders. In these Q&A sessions, you can ask just about anything you'd like to know about VC and starting a company. Join him every Wednesday at 9pm ET.
Recently Hit the Stands 📰
Things in the news you should check out
Although there were many promises in 2020 to support underrepresented founders, the stats pretty much stayed the same. Black entrepreneurs only received .34% of venture dollars, while women only got 2.3% of funding. While only 4% of investors are black, only 5% of investors are women, and Latinx venture representation dropped to 4%. To promote diversity in venture capital, "we need to complement venture dollars with conditions that promote tech entrepreneurship among minority founders at each stage of the funnel."
Larva Labs, an NFT (nonfungible token) crypto-art project signed with United Talent Agency, where they will be represented in film. This is one of the first crypto-native IPs to enter traditional media. CryptoPunks, a part of Larva Labs, is an early example of NFTs as art and was launched on Ethereum blockchain in 2017. Now, characters are selling for $2 million dollars. All of Larva Labs' projects use code to create pieces of art.
Li Jin, a venture capitalist who backs online creators, raised her own fund to invest in influencer-related start-ups. Her firm Atelier Ventures was formed last year, and she has since raised 13 million for her first fund. Li Jin was talking about the creator economy years before anyone else was, and has always been pro-creator and pro-worker. She plans to take her $13 million fund and invest in creator-focused companies.
In August of 2020, Crunchbase started tracking founders, and angel and venture capital investors by gender, race, and ethnicity. In their reporting, they dive into women entrepreneur statistics specifically. Although 49% of all businesses are some combination of women-owned, the number of companies that are women-founded is small in comparison.
Attending a prestigious school such as Stanford, Harvard or MIT seems to increase the odds of an entrepreneur's success. Crunchbase focused research on CEOs of American startups who identify as racial or ethnic minorities (a group categorized under the acronym BIPOC) and found that the most common schools for BIPOC CEOs are the nation’s most prestigious and selective research universities.
Cosmopolitan started an initiative to highlight and support women of color entrepreneurs. The New C-Suite honored over 10 founders who you want to work for or become someday. Read this article from Cosmopolitan to meet the women who are changing the way companies operate.
A Little Birdie Told Me 🐦
Tweet of the moment
Hot Take of the Moment 🔥
Somebody had to say it
Founders You Should Follow 👀
Founders making moves
Marie Denee L. | The Curvy Fashionista
Marie Denee is the founder and creator of The Curvy Fashionista, a multifaceted media brand that celebrates plus-sized folks with curves. Their website provides curated content on style, shopping, and news. Marie has an extensive background in marketing and retail, as well as a passion for fashion. The Curvy Fashionista is an amazing platform that inspires and celebrates plus-sized people, as well as educates people that style isn't defined by size.
Kristina Liburd | Viageur
Kristina is the Founder and CEO of Viageur, an AI travel tool that aims to help cities safely rebuild their travel economy. Viageur is a vision that came from travelers who understand the stress it takes to plan a great trip. Not to mention the desire to connect with others who have done similar trips. Kristina a positive voice in the startup space and encourages other founders and I love that. Go follow her!
New Fund Announced 🚀
LoftyInc launched its third fund to invest in more African startups. This $10 million fund is focusing on tech startups and has written checks to over 20 startups since it started raising for this fund.
QED just announced the closing of two oversubscribed funds, a $550 million early-stage fund, and a $500 million growth-stage fund. The firm plans to continue to back fintech companies
A new small experimental fund just launched to invest next generation of fund managers. The firm provides strategic and tactical advice, fundraising help, and capital. They've backed some pretty great firms, such as Rarebreed Ventures and Moxxie Ventures. Deploy Capital founders hope to help individuals from day zero scale their investments. The fund won't charge any carrying or management fees.
Walk the Walk
Investors putting their money where their mouth is
On August 31st, Apple announced $30 million in new commitments as part of its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI). This new $30 million commitment builds on top of their initial $100 million commitment and includes new projects - Global Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) Equity Innovation Hub; expanded education initiatives for community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); a new cohort of the Apple Entrepreneur Camp immersive tech lab for Hispanic/Latinx founders and developers; and funding for leaders working to advance criminal justice reform and environmental justice.
Arlan Hamilton is the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital. Since the firm's founding, she led over 200 investments in startups that have an overachieving, underestimated, founder. Arlan also invests in emerging fund managers as a Limited Partner (LP). P.S. - Overlooked Ventures is one of Arlan Hamilton's portfolio investments!
Google recently released the 2021 Cohort of their Black Founders Fund. This initiative began to give incredible Black founders access to capital. The $5M fund provides Black-led startups with up to $100,000 of non-dilutive capital. Meet the 100+ entrepreneurs who received funding as a part of this cohort.
Slauson & Co and Grid 110 launched a nationwide Friends & Family program to give entrepreneurs connections, community, and capital. Entrepreneurs who are selected will receive a 20,000 cash grant and so much more. Applications are due on October 8th!
What you need to know
Alex Macdonald tweeted out 13 investor databases for seed-stage Founders looking to raise money.
So what is a syndicate? Paige Doherty explains what syndicates are and what they do in her Essential Guide to Syndicates.
Women Founders in the News
Isa Watson founded Squad as an app for connecting people with similar interests for in-person meetups. After the pandemic hit, Isa was agile and switched gears. Squad has relaunched as an audio-based social app for people who want to deepen their relationships with close friends. In your squad, you can post an audio update that will expire in 24 hours, and your friends can react and reply. People want authentic social media, and Squad makes that possible!
Melanie Fountaine and Melissa Danielsen started Josh's Place, after taking care of their brother, Josh, who had a developmental disability and severe epilepsy. They are making disability care accessible to families with complex care needs. Josh’s Place, provided group home accommodations and other services to adults across Minnesota and was eventually acquired by REM Minnesota. Now, they've created Joshin, "a digital care platform that aims to connect care providers to families with specialized care needs."
Maricel Saenz, Costa Rican-born and fellow coffee-lover founded Compound Foods to create a sustainable coffee product. Compound Foods uses synthetic biology to create coffee without coffee beans by extracting molecules. So far, Compound Foods has raised a total of $5.3 million in venture capital.
Startups to Watch 👀
Keep your eye on these
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Launched at the first of the month, Remote Choice is a resource for people to discover where to live and work remotely. They provide relevant information to help you make a decision on where to live and work, like location guides, visas, and more. Locations include everywhere from New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, and more. Lifetime access is only $29.99!
Latesha Byrd just announced her new talent development agency Perfeqta. They are a group of trainers, coaches, and consultants who put equity into talent development. The firm provides services such as company training, talent acquisition optimization, DEI road mapping, consulting, and more.
Before You Go 🚪
What you might have missed.
The HouseParty is over.
1 change that can fix the VC funding crisis for women founders
Fighting against racist algorithms.
This fundraiser offers technology programs to communities of color.
64 female founders & investors you should know about
A.I. can now write its own computer code.
Redefine productivity for the hybrid era.
He's here, he's there, he's ever f*ing where, Roy Kent!
Thanks for reading! I’ll catch you next time. And don’t forget to share No Longer Overlooked with your community!