Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wayan Brothers Come to Howard University...

I attended a HowU Innovate panel on how to raise money for your startup. The invitation encouraged people to "Come out and hear from some of the best minds in the field."

While not super well attended, I did find it interesting. There was much good information, but it seemed a less edgy, more conventional rehash of a talk I gave at Howard in April and of the talk I gave at the 2015 National Black MBA Association Washington DC Chapter (NBMBAA-DC) Entrepreneurship Expo. My talk, titled “Black People and Venture Capital” is on video below.

One person sent me the photo at left in response to a photo I tweeted out during the meeting. 

Now, that's a little harsh, but I understand why they sent it. Much of the advice was super conventional and rests on the fiction that Black people can actually get money from VC's.

At one point, the person on the panel who works for a VC referenced the small number of Black professionals he knows, implying that there were only a handful of Black people working for VC firms. This is false. According to our database, there are probably 250 Black men and women in the field now. The issue is not having one more Black person with a job at a VC firm. The issue is performance. One study found that "while less than 1 percent of venture-capital-backed company founders were African American and 12 percent were Asian, 83 percent had a racial composition that was entirely Caucasian."

Someone reminded me of the speech Lyndon Johnson gave at Howard 50 years ago: "Johnson spoke of a widening gulf between blacks and whites in unemployment, infant mortality and economic opportunity. 'It is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates,' he said.

VCs are widely regarded as one way to walk thru the gates of opportunity, but we know, given the statistics cited above, this is false. 

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