No Longer Overlooked - Issue 34: Cobble it together 🪨
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 In This Issue 🗞
A brief look into what you'll be reading about
Meet Cobble: a new startup builder & all-in-one app for founders 🚀
Investors and companies backing diverse founders
Two founders bringing innovation to their communities and markets
Advice for entrepreneurs
What's On My Mind 💭
I’ve been thinking…
COBBLE IS FINALLY LAUNCHED! 💥
The Cobble team was hard at work for months building our all-in-one app for entrepreneurs who are building their businesses. When I started my first company years ago, I was lost. I didn’t know where to start, who to go to, or what advice to trust. I spent tons of long nights and weekends, teaching myself & searching for a community of builders like me.
I’m a founder who struggled, didn’t receive funding, and felt alone. I knew it shouldn't have to be that way for everyone. Years later, my first company was acquired and I began angel investing and mentoring entrepreneurs, which later led to starting Overlooked Ventures with Brandon Brooks.
The same frustration and challenges I had while building were the same ones founders today were experiencing. Not to mention, Black, Women, Latino/a, and diverse entrepreneurs have it even worse.
Now a decade later, I am thrilled to announce Cobble. I poured over 10 years’ worth of experience of starting, managing, & growing a company into Cobble, a founder-first app that makes building a company more accessible with easy-to-understand workflows & tools.
Using Cobble, founders can find all the resources, mentorship, and tools needed to help them start up. Workflows include:
Founders Library: Articles, downloads, & more
We’re not stopping! An Investor Connector, business services marketplace, and more are on the horizon.
Cobble wouldn’t be here without our team of builders: Head of Product, Nishi Patel; Head of Marketing, Jaime Houssami; Head of Operations, Jess Segraves; Inclusive Communities Manager, Chauntelle Lewis, Content Contributors, Tyshia Ingram, and Jess Riegel; Development, John Thurn.
It’s FREE to sign up for Cobble and you’ll get access to upgraded features like Business Planning, Marketing Strategy, and Product Roadmapper for 7 days. The Startup Starter, Founders Library & Personal CRM are free forever. Sign up here: app.gocobble.com/signup
You can also learn more about Cobble in my Medium post here.
What I’ve Been Working On 💁🏻♀️
Things I care about that I want to share
Carrie Ghose featured Cobble and one of our beta users and early supporters, Diamond Harris! Diamond is a single mom and entrepreneur building a solution for parenting support. She had a glowing review of Cobble “As soon as I logged in to the (Cobble) software, it was like everything I could have imagined ... It gave me direction.” We are so excited to have users like Diamond using Cobble to scale their business from idea to launch. Read the article for more about Cobble!
Overlooked Ventures was mentioned in TechCrunch! 💥 In the article, Overlooked Ventures were featured among two other venture firms: Portfolia and Emmeline Ventures. Read the article to learn more about why Brandon and I started Overlooked Ventures and their approach to venture capital investing.
I was featured as one of 23 investors who fund women, Black, Latin, and LGBTQ founders. It’s no secret that there is a diversity problem in VC. Although we need more investments in diverse founders, many investors are actively putting their money where their mouth is. Read this list by The Business of Business to learn about the 23 investors mentioned.
Recently Hit the Stands 📰
Things in the news you should check out
Tope Awotona built Calendly out of frustration and put $200,000 of his life savings to get it off the ground. Now Calendly is worth $3 Billion and helps 10 million users and accounts lead better, more productive, happier work lives. Awotona was born in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to Atlanta, GA with his family at 15. He worked in Sales selling software for large tech companies and came up with the idea for Calendly when struggling to set up meetings as a salesperson.
Black woman founders had the most meetings in 2021, but have the least money to show for it. Brooke S. Sinclair, Founder & CEO of Velourit, is not surprised by this fact as the fundraising blockers she and Black women experience today are the same prejudices they’ve dealt with our whole lives.
Vanity metrics do not favor overlooked and underrepresented founders. In 2021, investors spent nearly 17% more time on pitch decks from all-white teams and these same teams raised over 40% more money than diverse teams. Darrel Frater, a VC at Visible Hands and founder of The Club app, explains the problems he has seen first-hand in venture capital.
Venture capital, both the check writers and founders receiving funding, is male-dominated. When making investment pitches, women often face unconscious biases and gendered assumptions. As for leadership roles in the investment industry, less than 10% of partners at the 100 largest VC firms are women. There’s even when you consider intersectional identities.
During the first three months of 2022, startups founded by women-only teams raised $1.47 billion of venture funding, according to PitchBook data. This is a 34% slump in capital investment for female founders from the highs of Q4 2021. Overall US VC funding declined 26% during the same period.
Black investors have made great achievements. Reggie Tucker writes, “venture capital needs to set the example on how to continue this positive momentum and to evolve the approach toward increasing diversity in investment management.”
Gender-lens investing (GLI) has become a popular strategy among investors who promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. Studies show that GLI isn’t just for the greater good, it also yields high returns. Women’s inclusion and empowerment i is an economic issue and it’s time investors start incorporating gender-lens investing.
Crunchbase data found that global venture funding reached $160 billion in the first quarter of 2022. This fell 13 percent from the last quarter of 2021. This is a surprise since the venture capital industry hit record numbers.
Women are at a disadvantage when raising capital. Although in 2021 venture capital investments in women increased by 83% from 2022, women still aren’t getting enough of the total venture capital dollars. Read this article for a few ways the barriers to capital can be eliminated for women.
Maja Schaefer, co-founder and CEO of Zowie, a no-code customer service solution for digital retailers. Although she had a successful career before being a startup founder, Maja had a difficult time raising capital as a woman. She learned a lot about fundraising while raising a Seed and Pre-seed round and shares her advice in this article.
Last year, we saw many investments in climate-focused software startups. Crunchbase compiled a list of 27 climate-focused software companies funded in the past year. Together, these 27 startups raised $1.3 billion in funding. Read this post from Crunchbase to learn more about the 27 climate startups.
Gender equality is moving slower than it should be. As a result, women are not receiving the same opportunities as their male counterparts. The amount of women CEOs in the top 500 companies is only at 6% and at this rate, it will be another 136 years until we reach gender parity.
In the last decade, venture capital has seen significant growth, but the amount of venture funding going to women hasn’t kept up. This data is important to consider since women-led startups hire 2.5 times more women than start-ups with all-male founders.
African women-led startups are growing. In the last three years, they grew by nearly seven-fold. Although this is great progress, African startups led by men are receiving more buzz and investments.
Cassandra Stavrou sold her company Proper, a healthy snacking business, to Exponent. During the process she was pregnant and advised to hide her bump. The stakes were too high, said Cassandra Stavrou.
In Q1 of 2022, PitchBook found that mixed-gender founding teams received 15.6% of venture capital dollars, down from 17.1% and all-women founding teams received 2.0% of venture capital. Black and Latinx founders raised even less - at 1% of venture capital. Corporations are pledging more to women-led firms that invest in diverse founders. One example of this is the $15 million investment made by General Mills in two early-stage venture capital funds, Fearless Fund and Supply Change Capital.
Meter feeder is a mobile parking and ticket playing platform started by our friends Jim Gibbs and Daniel Lopretto. The company announced its raise of a $2.6 million seed extension round to grow its employee base and geographic footprint. employee count and future geographic footprint.
Many of us spend our free time looking at home listings on Zillow or watching HGTV because it's fun. Playhouse plays off of this concept and makes browsing home listings more interactive, exciting, immersive, and authentic.
A Little Birdie Told Me 🐦
Tweet of the moment
Hot Take of the Week 🔥
Somebody had to say it
Walk the Walk 💰
Investors putting their money where their month is
Silicon Valley Bank announced its fellowship program for Black, Latinx and women professionals looking to get into the VC industry, backed by Black Venture Capital Consortium (BVCC).
General Mills commits $15 million to “promote minority and female-led food businesses.” This investment is being put into two funds: Fearless Fund and Supply Change Capital.
VC Include focuses on educating and advising GPs and LPs to expand their investment opportunities through diversity. They just launched their new initiative, a Climate Justice Initiative for Diverse Emerging Fund Managers. 10 funds received $100,000 in investments as a part of this initiative.
150 women of color business owners were awarded monetary grants, educational resources, and peer coaching from the Tory Burch Foundation and Goldman Sachs One Million Black Women.
Amazon Web Services launched the AWS Impact Accelerator that will give up to $30 million to early-stage startups led by Black, Latino, LGBTQIA+, and women founders over three years.
Comcast Corporation announced a $1 million investment in Backstage Capital to support underrepresented founders at the earliest stages.
Founders You Should Follow 👀
Keep an eye on these founders making moves
Ifueko Igbinedion | Parfait
Doctoral student at MIT & tech angel Ifueko Igbinedion co-founded and recently launched Parfait, a company that uses AI to reimagine the wig-making process. Parfait raised $5 million in a seed round led by Upfront Ventures and Serena Ventures. Currently, Ifueko is pursuing a Ph.D. in EECS from MIT. She has worked on the following projects at IBM, Google, and Lincoln Laboratory: computer vision, virtual reality, embedded systems, and robotics a
Ashley Olafsen | The Wildflower Compay
Ashley Olafsen is a Boston-based entrepreneur who started her first business at 16 where she hosted workshops and summer programs on self-esteem and leadership for teenage girls. She later founded an online workshop called Let Talk About it, Visionaria Consulting, and is currently a Startup Coach at IFundWomen. Her newest venture is called The Wildflower Company, co-founded with Michaella, which helps people cultivate a life that is thoughtful and purposeful. Ashley is currently crowdfunding for The Wildflower Company - learn more about you can be involved here.
New Funds Announced 🚀
VC partners Maren Bannon and Jennifer Neundorfer closed $21M for their fund II, investing in women outside of Silicon Valley! The fund will write $250,000 to $750,000 checks into software businesses working on everything from future of work to fintech and digital health.
Ansa Capital announced a $100 million debut fund that will focus on emerging growth-stage companies. Ansa seeks to build a focused portfolio with targeted initial investments of $5m to $15m in companies that are pioneering new markets, reinventing distribution models, and modernizing legacy systems.
Jamison Hill, Laura Weidman Powers, and Luci Fonseca joined Base10 to invest in a $250 million growth-stage fund.
Sarah Sclarsic and Sierra Peterson announced Voyager Ventures and its $100 Million Fund I. The fund will invest in startups working on technology to help decarbonize transportation, energy systems, and food and materials production.
Construct Capital announced the launch of its $300 Million second vehicle, with $225 million for early-stage (leading or co-leading seed and Series A) and $75 million for later-stage opportunities.
Long Time Listener 🎧
Podcasts to tune in
**Building Better Culture in VC with Katelin Holloway - SevenSevenSix | Venturing in VC
Katelin Holloway of 776 Ventures joined Landon Campbell of Inside’s Venturing in VC podcast to talk about building a better culture in venture capital and startups. Katelin previously worked at Pixar, Reddit, and Initialized Capital. 776 now has a total of 38 portfolio companies and nearly $750 million in assets under management.
Gefen Skolnick is the Founder & CEO of Couplet Coffee, an online seller of coffee beans and coffee-related products. Couplet is available online and at select partners. For over 10 years, Gefen has been obsessed with coffee and even started Couplet as a side project in college. What started as a side project is now a rapidly scaling business with over 17 retail partners and more plans on the horizon. Listen to this episode of Modern Retail to learn more about Couplet Coffee and Gefen!
What you need to know
One of the biggest lessons in startups is that things always take longer than expected.
Here’s why venture capitalists are addicted to SaaS businesses.
Open VC put together the list of all VC lists.
This week's best tweets on startups and entrepreneurship by Brian Bourque
Before You Go 🚪
What you might have missed.
Nigel Morris and Frank Rotman of QED Investors have been named to the Forbes Midas List of Top 100 investors worldwide.
CB Insights published Global Unicorn Club with 1066 private companies valued at $1B+ worldwide.
A letter to a librarian.
We. Don’t. Speak. Or. Pay. For. Our. Own. Travel. For. Exposure. - Sherrell Dorsey
Always be closing!
Have strong boundaries, especially if you’re a high achiever.
Black CEOs are getting pushed out earlier than their peers. Tag Black CEOs that were pushed out or left before series B in this thread by Henri Pierre-Jacques.