No Longer Overlooked - Issue 32 | Lead with Kindness ❤️
POV: You're a founder building a startup
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 On My Mind 💭
I’ve been thinking…
I’ve gotta be honest with you all. Parenting in a pandemic is BS. Every morning we wake up wondering what new curveball will be thrown at us – room closures, covid exposure, phantom fevers, other random sicknesses. And now in the Midwest, a winter storm has snowed us in for an unknown amount of days with four kids ages six and under. I’m writing this while they watch whatever Disney+ has to offer because honestly, this is all too much.
I don’t say this to complain but to show solidarity to all of the other parents out there struggling to figure out how to get child care so they can keep their own lives moving, their own startup running, or keep their job when they’ve run out of PTO days on the calendar.
I am also aware of the real struggles of health concerns and what medical professionals are facing daily and I’m not discounting any of that. However, we can all have our own challenges that are real and valid without comparing to others.
This tweet brought on so much solidarity and words of encouragement. So if you’re feeling completely worn out and stuck, my only advice here is to find people to commiserate with. Because the uncertainty is jarring and this “new normal” isn’t something any of us signed up for. Sorry, I don’t have anything cheerful or positive for you all today. I’m human too and just like you, I’m worn out.
But now, let’s talk about startups and VC! ⬇️
What I’ve Been Working On 💁🏻♀️
Things I care about that I want to share
These last couple of weeks were great ones for Overlooked Ventures VC Chats on Twitter Spaces. We hosted a spirited discussion about how LPs judge first-time fund managers with several emerging venture capitalists. We talked about gatekeeping, pattern matching, and the other issues that surround investing in VC funds. Read the recap and listen to the Twitter space here.
In the current startup landscape, marketing goes beyond digital and ads. Many successful startups are using a new strategy when it comes to growth - community. Community-led growth is rallying enthusiasts of your product and giving them a space to talk with one another. Cobble is committed to fostering our community and giving our fans a space to chat about entrepreneurship, fundraising, startups, etc. in a promotion-free space. Join our Slack community and sign up for Cobble public beta!
Cobble is hiring!
We’re looking for video + audio creators to join our team and help power our Founder’s Library, marketing, and customer success strategies. Express your interest or share with your friends using the Airtable form 👉🏼 Cobble Creator - Video & Audio
We’ve all seen the statistics - women-founded companies are underfunded, if funded at all. It turns out that women founders and VCs aren’t supporting other women like they say they are. This needs to change! In a recent Medium post, I share the problems women are experiencing in the current landscape, how we can change, and women who are actually supporting other women.
I sat down with Landon Campbell of Inside.com to talk about investing in overlooked founders and untapped markets, her advice for founders who are fundraising, the value of community, and the importance of mental health.
Recently Hit the Stands 📰
Things in the news you should check out
Dr. Silvia Mah, a partner at Ad Astra Ventures, almost exclusively invests in womxn- and BIPOC-owned and operated businesses. She’s seen firsthand the struggles and limited access to capital that these founders have. Dr. Silvia Mah shares how VCs can level up the playing field for women entrepreneurs in this Forbes article.
Success in venture capital isn’t about chasing momentum, instead, we should be embracing collaboration. Founders don’t all look the same anymore, and neither do VCs. It’s time to move away from pattern matching and invest in rising competition. Read this article from FastCompany to learn how and why VC needs to be more adaptable.
Sharon Vosmek, CEO of Astia and managing partner of the Astia Fund, proves that there is no pipeline problem. Their fund is breaking the cycle with a portfolio that’s constructed of 50% Black female CEOs. Astia also published a report, which found that Black women founders received more money at the friends and family round and accomplished more with less capital.
JobsOhio and Eficionado are teaming up to turn persistent funding gaps into an opportunity for Black-owned startups and venture capitalists. They convened a council of business leaders to create a strategy, make introductions to customers, state programs, and investors so that they can help underrepresented groups.
On the 1st day of Black History Month, Black-led tech company Whose Your Landlord announced a new round of funding led by a Black-led VC Firm (Black Ops VC). Whose Your Landlord is leading the movement to center humanity at the heart of housing and changing the relationship between landlords and tenants.
Last year, Latinx founders only received ****2 percent of venture investments last year. Although overall funding increased, Latinx-founded companies still came up short. A study also found that Latinx founders need “roughly twice as many investors to get the same level of funding as startups with white founders.” This data is very problematic because Latinx start more businesses per capita than any other group.
Alumni of HBCUs, or historically black colleges and universities, are underfunded. At least 144 startups are founded by alumni of an HBCU. These startups have raised only $953 million over time. That is a small number in comparison to the amount of venture capital dollars invested. This Crunchbase article digs deeper into this problem and shares how HBCU alumni are overcoming these challenges.
Our friend Shelly Omilâdè Bell of Black Girl Ventures was featured on Essence, where she shared how she spends her time off the clock. Shelly is a single mother of three and busy with managing her company though she still finds time for leisure. In December of 2021, she went to Greece for a getaway where she reconnected with herself. Shelly also brings self-care and wellness into her company by hiring a Director of Wellness and hiring those who support her self-care.
While we aren’t as far along as we should be, many investors are writing checks to Black women. Goldman Sachs is one firm investing in and supporting Black women with the goal of narrowing the wealth gap and creating an impact that is sustainable. In this Fortune Term Sheet, a panel discusses the importance of investing in Black women.
There are barriers present for Black Americans, especially in the financial system, whether that’s buying a home or building credit. In this INC article, you’ll meet 5 Black founders who are making the financial system more equitable.
Although women-founded startups received a record-breaking $6.4 billion in 2021, their piece of the pie is still small. The total amount of VC investment in 2021 was nearly $330 billion, making the $6.4 billion a devastatingly low amount. According to a report from PitchBook, JP Morgan, and Beyond the Billion, women founders were hit hard by the pandemic, and it “dented years of progress.”
Kathryn Finney is the founder of the venture studio Genius Guild, which promotes and invests in Black businesses. Her firm includes two groups: The Greenhouse Fund and The Doonie Fund. In addition to her venture studio, Kathryn created a lifestyle media brand and created a social enterprise organization called digitalundivided. Kathryn sat down with the Skimm to tell her story.
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, was testing a video speed dating service called Sparked. The service brought an in-person feel to online dating with four-minute video dates and ten-minute follow updates. Unfortunately, the platform is no longer available as it didn’t “take off,” according to Meta.
Money has nowhere to go. The demand isn’t there for anything but software, and the US has a monetary surplus, as do many other countries. If this continues, more money will be going into startups, specifically overlooked industries like hardware, health and pharma, and environmental projects. 2022 might be the best year for startup funding yet.
Less than 2% of venture capital funding went to all-women founding teams in 2021, the lowest it’s been in half a decade. In this Tech Crunch article, Anita Ramaswamy explores why all-women founding teams are not getting as much funding. According to some VCs, it’s clear that the industry is biased against women. From virtue signaling, a focus on formality, and the investment stage - it’s clear that women and other underrepresented founders are falling short (to no fault of their own).
Seven Seven Six closed on $500 million for its second fund. The fund was oversubscribed and included two vehicles - $300 million for earliest possible stage startups and $200 million allocated for growth-stage companies. Now the fund has $750 million worth of assets under management.
$15bn was invested into Latin American startups, which tripled the previous record. Investors poured money into startups in financial tech, online shopping, and property categories. Over 650 deals were made, FinTech being the highest percentage (39%), followed by eCommerce (25%). Global VC funds are becoming more prominent in Latin American countries as many businesses are succeeding.
Crunchbase found that while venture capital dollars to Latinx founders increased by nearly $5 billion over the last few years, it still only accounts for less than 2% of total funding. Data also shows that Latinx business owners are profitable - and growing - so why aren’t venture capitalists, or even banks, backing them? This lack of funding causes a ripple effect and ultimately hurts everyone.
Black investors only hold 3% of partner-level positions at VC firms. Sherrad Harrington, the co-founder of EonXi, knows this has to change. EonXi labs is a black-owned venture capital firm and incubator with a focus in “assisting diverse influencers, athletes, and entrepreneurs in building tech-based financial empires.” The founders plan to build the next group of limited and general partners in venture capital.
A Little Birdie Told Me 🐦
Tweet of the moment
Hot Take of the Moment 🔥
Somebody had to say it
Walk the Walk 💰
Investors putting their money where their mouth is
Jumpstart launches fund for Black founders: Nashville venture capital firm Jumpstart Health launched a new fund called Jumpstart Nova that exclusively backs Black-founded and led health care companies.
Fearless Fund partnered with Tory Burch Foundation and The Cru to grant small businesses led by women of color between $10,000 and $20,000. In addition to capital, recipients will receive resources and peer coaching services.
Founders You Should Follow 👀
Keep an eye on these founders making moves
Mariam Nusrat | Breshna
Mariam Nusrat is the Founder & CEO of Grid, which is a tech startup building Breshna, a no-code platform for making video games with NFTs. Breshna started as a platform to create video games for education, training, or marketing and now with a web 3 integration, anyone can create, own, share and monetize NFT video games. Mariam Nusrat was featured as one of Forbes Next 1000, is a Tedx speaker, and earned two master's degrees.
Imani Bashir | The Takeoff Collection
Travel luggage founder and media maverick, Imani Bashir does it all. She’s a mother, wife, digital media specialist, and a four-time ex-pat. Her luggage brand, the Takeoff Collection, created the Expat Bag among other products to create a seamless travel experience and less-stressful practice of traveling with children. In addition, Imani wrote a children's book called “Follow the Takeoff Toddler” where a young boy travels the world learning and making friends.
New Funds Announced 🚀
Not Boring Capital Fund II: Not boring capital is back for another fund. Fund II is investing $30M into web2 and web3, bits and atoms startups of any stage.
Blossom Capital Fund III: European venture capital firm Blossom Fund closed its third fund at $432m. The firm focuses on Series A startups, making it the largest one in Europe to do so. Founder of the firm Ophelia Brown plans to continue investing in five to six startups a year.
Array Ventures: Array Ventures closed its $56.1 million fund in December with a plan to invest in 30 startups building enterprise tech solutions. The firm writes $1.2M-$1.5M checks with 15% target ownership.
Genius Guild - Kathryn Finney, a serial entrepreneur, has spent her career helping Black entrepreneurs and business owners. Now, she’s investing in Black founders with a new project - Genius Guild. Genius Guild is an incubator, venture studio, and fund.
Stonks Black Galentine’s Takeover from Techstars and ParentPreneur Foundation | February 14th at 1AM PT / 1PM ET
Techstars Female Founder Catalyst Program and the ParentPreneur Foundation are teaming up to host a virtual demo day for top pre-seed founders from Atlanta and The Southeast. Companies include Chozen Media Kids, WellMiss, Palmly, and more! P.S. - Brandon Brooks will be a panelist!
Startup to Watch
What you need to know
Black Speakers Collection: Madison Butler is a speaker herself who creates equitable spaces and organizations. She recently launched Black Speakers Collection, a directory of Black speakers, as a resource for Black speakers and for organizations who want to diversify and amplify their panels, conferences, and company discussions.
Alice Clinic: Founded by Malia Funk, a passionate FemTech founder with a deep knowledge of the US healthcare system, Alice Clinic aims to reinvent the Gynecological delivery model for the next generation, focusing on those with high deductibles and the uninsured. They are modernizing and streamlining the experience via a blend of culturally competent digital tools and vetted in-person delivery partners. The model works to eliminate the inefficiencies and incentive misalignment between patients, providers, and insurance companies. (they’re raising! email for deck 👀)
Can you help?
Calling blockchain investors
Mentor a fellow woman founder?
Kavitha from Blooming Health is looking for women mentors or peers who are or were in the trenches of building a company in the early stages. Connect with her on Twitter!
Does anyone know the CEO of Vimeo?
One of Overlooked Venture’s looking for an intro to Anjali Sud, the CEO of Vimeo. She wants to connect with her about a potential speaking engagement for the American India Foundation board.
Moment AI is hiring!
Megan Gray of Moment AI, a deep tech/mobility ai company building tech to improve driving for the vulnerable population, is looking to fill three roles: Social Media Guru, Vice President of Engineering, and Senior Software Engineer. Apply here!
Calling Web3 Investors
Valentine Osakwe, the founder of Peep, is making a pivot to Web3 and is looking for investors! They are building an automated reward system using web3, by creating a unique marketplace where businesses can plug in via API and give their customers the ability to earn tokens on their purchases. Message him on LinkedIn!
Does anyone in your network work in healthcare?
Before You Go 🚪
What you might have missed.
Instead of “How do I break into venture capital?” try “Should I become a venture capitalist?”
The most powerful ideas in life, according to Sahil Bloom.
If you can dream it, tweet it.
VC investments are high, fintech investments are even higher.
Women NFT artists are bringing equity to Web3.
“Being young, white, and male is not even positively correlated with better outcomes.”
Mac Conwell answers questions for emerging fund managers in this Twitter thread.
The secret to max LPs in a venture fund.
You can now click to invest in featured deals on Entrepreneur.
We’ll leave you with this tweet from Matt Turck
The 2nd cohort of TxO founders was announced!
Meet Prologue, a new type of tech holding company.