If you told me at the start of 2018 that by September I’d find myself sitting in the London Mayor’s office at City Hall recommending policy changes for greater tech inclusion I would have said, “I wish!” And yet last Wednesday, alongside 25 other black women founders in London tech’s scene, I sat at a roundtable discussion with Deputy Mayor of London Rajesh Agrawal, Leapand London & Partners. Our objective? To outline actions to ensure black women entrepreneurs are not excluded from initiatives that support startups and scale-ups in London.
I like to talk to youth the because they give an unfiltered and honest perspective on society. I had the privilege of talking to rising seniors of a top-notch academy in upper Harlem. Part of our convo went like this: Me: “Do you know who Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Reid Hoffman are?” Them: “Yes, Steve Jobs is Apple! Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook!” Me: “Great! Do you know any famous Black or Latinx business men or women?” Them: pause………”Yes! Dr. Dre, Puff Daddy, Jay-Z!” Me: “Ok nice. Final question.
Every year, for the past 4 years, Silicon Valley goes on their penance tour of carefully selected media outlets to tell their diversity and inclusion stories. The reports are carefully crafted to avoid apples to apple comparison with EE-01s and other tech companies. And when pressed on this, their well-oiled PR departments manage the messaging in such a way that it’s all but impossible to get the ground truth. One potential reason why ratios have remained static is that inequality is in plain sight at many tech companies. A short
At the beginning of my career, the word underrepresented wasn’t in my vocabulary. It was summer 2009, and I was a fresh London School of Economics graduate rushing around the Financial Times offices as an editorial intern. As I walked around the newsroom on my very first day, I noticed there were hardly any people that looked like me around. There were few people of color. There weren’t even that many women. Almost everyone was a posh white guy; it was intimidating but unsurprising. All my experiences of London’s corporate
“I love tech, but I’m not a techie” is a phrase I’ve heard from countless people, particularly women, since starting Hustle Crew in 2016. I shake my head every time because even though I have worked in tech for almost a decade at giants like Amazon and Groupon, I never once wrote a line of code in any of those roles. What does it mean to be techie anyway? I found myself in summer 2016 unemployed with no next move planned. I quit my job in a London based startup
This conversation is a snippet from this #Techish podcast episode between Arlan Hamilton founder of Backstage Capital, and Michael Berhane, cleaned up and edited for readabilty sake. I’ve always wanted to know when you first had the idea for Backstage Capital. What was the first thing you did? Cried [haha] It didn’t happen overnight. I studied, I started my education to understand venture capital. I had to. The old guard, the people who are already there, perhaps they needed a little bit more of a shakeup when it came to
A system cannot fail those it was never built to protect — Dad (@fivefifths) July 14, 2013 In 2013 the writer and journalist Van Newkirk, who goes under the moniker, fivefiths tweeted, A system cannot fail those it was never built to protect. It is was tweeted in the light of the dismissal of George Zimmerman who was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin. The quote is often wrongly attributed to black historian W E Dubois but there is no record he said this and people were probably
Entrepreneurship can seem like the ultimate catch 22—making progress requires funding, but progress begets funding in the first place. The average seed stage startup is worth over $5M and is bootstrapped by founders for about 2.5 years before the first venture capitalist (VC) invests money to help the business grow. Entrepreneurs of color, however, disproportionately fall short of accessing the necessary capital to achieve the initial traction above. For instance, although the total venture capital investments reached nearly $70B in the U.S. in 2016, companies led by founders of color received
The oddest part about being a Zimbabwean millennial is that for your benefit you grew up having to look beyond Zimbabwe to achieve any form of a normal livelihood. This is still largely a present and painful reality, families, remain scattered across the world, torn apart by circumstances that merely happened to them. Despite that which we had no control or say over, I’m happy to say in our post-Mugabe dispensation; I can see Zimbabwe through a different lens — contentious point at varying degrees depending on who you talk
This guest post was originally published at Backstage Capital’s Green Room blog. On a daily basis, I get inquiries on and around the world of venture capital (VC) and Backstage Capital. So, when Mario Avila, an aspiring VC, reached out to me and expressed interest in typing up a few questions that could help many others, I took him up on it. I told Mario I’d answer his questions and post them. In this post, we explore my role as a Principal, diversity in venture capital, portfolio management, and how