February 14, 2023

Former Facebook Employees Launch WOC-Led VC Firm

Former Facebook employees Meena Harris and Helen Min have come together to launch their first-ever VC firm, Phenomenal Ventures

Meena Harris, who just so happens to be a lawyer, author, and the niece of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, is no stranger to the journey of building a brand from the ground up. Before the launch of her latest venture, Harris turned her side hustle into a global empire by selling activist statement T-shirts. 

The brand’s hero product was a T-shirt with the words “Phenomenal Woman” printed across the front. Some of the hottest celebrities, including Serena Williams, Ciara, and Viola Davis, were all spotted in the clothing brand, ultimately increasing its popularity.  

Meena Harris’ ‘Phenomenally Black’ t-shirts

The idea of developing a joint VC firm came to fruition after the pair met as employees at Facebook. After years of exchanging notes on all things business-related, Harris and Min decided to bring their vision boards to life.

“We feel really confident in our ability to succeed, but also wanted to share modestly and just do the work, despite some of the uncertainty around the economy,” Harris said in an interview

Harris and Min are part of an explosive movement that is seeing more women break into the VC scene, but the pair still make up a small number of women of color leading VC firms.

 The aftermath of the economic downturn and the challenges within the tech industry have led to many Black and brown women losing out on funding opportunities, which is why the launch of Phenomenal Ventures couldn’t have come at a better time. 

“There are funds of all sizes still being raised, we know that there’s money out there that is still being deployed and raised, but not many of them are led by solo GPs,” added Harris. “Even fewer are led by women, let alone women of color, or people like us who are women of color and aren’t career venture capitalists.” 

“I think that’s a big surprise to people because we are women – but we’re really focused on things that will have venture-like returns,” Min said in an interview

Despite only launching a year ago, Phenomenal Ventures has already closed an early-stage focused fund of $6 million. The funding round included firms 776, Tribe Capital, Slow Ventures, and founders from big techs, including Pinterest, Quora, and Dropbox. 

So far, Phenomenal Ventures has invested in thirteen companies, nine of which are led by underrepresented founders. 

Harris and Min believe the VC firm will allow them to make fundamental, impactful changes in the tech industry, which they have watched transform over the past ten years.

Kumba Kpakima

Kumba Kpakima is a reporter at POCIT. A documentary about the knife crime epidemic in the UK got her a nomination for the UK's #30toWatch Young Journalists of the Year.