Where Black Female Founders Can Find Funding, Resources, and More

This post was originally published here on Sept 22, 2019, on Medium.

Arlan Hamilton — founder and managing partner at Backstage Capital — summarized best why investing in Black Female Founders (BFF) isn’t just important, but could produce high yields:

“Less than 0.2 percent of all early-stage venture funding goes to Black women, while we make up approximately 8 per cent of the U.S. population and are one of the fastest-growing entrepreneur segments in the country,” Arlan wrote. “It is my firm belief that because Black women have had to make do with far less for centuries, equipping them with early-stage capital that is on par with their white male counterparts has the potential to lead to outsized returns.”

To help bridge this gap in funding, I’ve put together this reference guide for Black Female Founders to provide context, references, and links to resources on the following topics:

  1. BFF activity
  2. BFF VCs
  3. BFF angel groups
  4. BFF startups to watch
  5. BFF incubators and accelerators
  6. BFF co-working spaces
  7. BFF communities
  8. BFF tech media and podcasts
  9. BFF events and conferences

1. BFF activity

According to ProjectDiane (a biennial study of Black Women Founders in the U.S.), the number of BFF startups has more than doubled since 2016 and the amount of venture or angel funding raised by BFFs has increased 500%, from about $50 million in 2016 to nearly $250 million in 2017. But the amount of venture or angel funding received by Black women-led startups since 2009 is still just .0006% of the $424.7 billion in total tech venture funding raised in the same period.

Fifty percent of all BFFs are located either in New York City or California. Ninety-five percent of BFFs have bachelor degrees and nearly 50% have masters or PhDs (and Howard University — not Harvard — has produced more BFFs.) Unfortunately, very few BFFs are currently participating in top accelerators such as Y Combinator, 500 Startups, and Techstars.

2. BFF VCs

Funds investing in Black Female Founders include:

  • Backstage Capital — “Backstage Capital is a venture capital fund that invests in new companies led by underrepresented founders in the U.S.”
  • Cross Culture Ventures — “Cross Culture Ventures, a California-based company, invests in entrepreneurs creating technology and consumer products.”
  • New Voices Fund — “New Voices Fund is a fund created to empower women of color entrepreneurs to reach their full potential.”
  • Essence Ventures — “Essence Ventures is an independent African American owned company that focuses on merging content, community, and commerce.”
  • Kapor Capital — “Kapor Capital invests in seed and early-stage startups whose success in business generates positive social impact.”
  • The Helm — “The Helm is a community and a venture fund that rethinks how people invest in female entrepreneurs.”
  • BBG Ventures — “BBG Ventures is an early stage fund focused on consumer internet and mobile startups with at least one female founder.”

Black VCs

If you’re curious about learning more about Black investors themselves, review Sydney Thomas’ list of Black women in VC as well as the fund matrix below (all have black managing partners.)

Other BFF-friendly investors

These investors have made investments in Black-founded and -led startups.

  • Pipeline Angels — “Pipeline Angels is changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women and non-binary femme social entrepreneurs.”
  • SOSV — “SOSV is a global venture capital firm providing multi-stage investment to develop and scale our founders’ big ideas for positive change.”
  • Capital Factory — “Capital Factory is the center of gravity for tech startups in Texas.”
  • BBG Ventures — “BBG Ventures is an early stage fund focused on consumer internet and mobile startups with at least one female founder.”
  • Y Combinator — “Created a new model for funding early stage startups. Twice a year we invest in a large number of startups.”
  • Kapor Capital — “Kapor Capital invests in seed and early-stage startups whose success in business generates positive social impact.”
  • Right Side Capital Management — “Right Side Capital Management is a technology startup investment firm focused exclusively on the pre-seed stage.”
  • 500 Startups — “500 Startups is a global venture capital seed fund with a network of startup programs headquartered in Silicon Valley with over $350M AUM.”
  • Techstars — “Techstars Ventures is a Colorado-based venture capital firm that empowers entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to the market.”

3. BFF angel groups

  • Maya Venture Partners — “Maya Venture Partners (MVP) is a forward-thinking investment company that invests in high growth companies led by exceptional women of color founders.”
  • Pipeline Angels — “Pipeline Angels is changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women and non-binary femme social entrepreneurs.”
  • Gotham Gal Ventures—An investor focused on funding female entrepreneurs.

Additional Resources:

BFF Corporates

4. BFF startups to watch

Vanity Fair April 2018 Issue

You’ll definitely want to follow the startups founded by the 26 black female founders who have raised $1 million or more. They also happened to be featured in Vanity Fair’s April 2018 issue. They are:

  1. Lisa Skeete Tatum, co-founder and CEO, Landit
  2. Heather Hiles, founder and former CEO, Pathbrite (sold company to Cengage Learning in 2015)
  3. Marla Blow, founder and CEO, FS Card
  4. Helen Adeosun, co-founder and CEO, Care Academy
  5. Morgan DeBaun, founder and CEO, Blavity
  6. Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO, Sweeten
  7. Marah Lidey, co-founder and co-CEO, Shine
  8. Kristina Jones, co-founder, CourtBuddy
  9. Sherisse Hawkins, co-founder and CEO, Pagedip
  10. Etosha Cave, founder, Opus 12
  11. Tanisha Robinson, founder, Print Syndicate
  12. Catherine Mahugu, founder, Soko
  13. Alicia Thomas, co-founder and CEO, Dibs
  14. Kellee James, founder and CEO, Mercaris
  15. Viola Llewellyn, co-founder and president, Ovamba
  16. Reham Fagiri, co-founder and CEO, AptDeco
  17. Camille Hearst, co-founder and CEO, Kit
  18. Alexandra Bernadotte, founder and CEO, Beyond 1 2
  19. K. J. Miller, co-founder, Mented Cosmetics
  20. Nicole Neal, co-founder and CEO, Noodle Markets
  21. Amanda E. Johnson, co-founder, Mented Cosmetics
  22. Cheryl Contee, co-founder and strategic adviser, Attentive.ly
  23. Asmau Ahmed, founder, Plum Perfect
  24. Star Cunningham, founder and CEO, 4D Healthware
  25. Jewel Burks, co-founder and CEO, Partpic (sold company to Amazon in 2016)
  26. Jessica O. Matthews, founder and CEO, Uncharted Power

5. BFF incubators and accelerators

  • Founders Gym — “Founder Gym is an online training center for underrepresented founders who want to build successful tech startups.”
  • Digital Undivided — “digitalundivided builds forward thinking initiatives that change the digital space.”
  • ATDC Georgia and Atlanta — The Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech “provides services open to all technology entrepreneurs in Georgia.”
  • Case Foundation — “Case invests in people and ideas that can change the world.”
  • Inclusive Startup Fund — “We provide the venture capital and guidance they need to turn their startups into great companies.”
  • JumpStart fund — “Focus Fund invests seed capital in tech-based companies led by female entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color throughout Ohio — as well as those willing to move to the state.”
  • Black Female Founder — “Black Female Founders is an organization providing awareness, resources, and a platform for women-led tech ventures.”
  • NewMe Accelerator — “NewME Accelerator is a residential technology startup accelerator for businesses led by underrepresented groups.”

See also:31 Top Accelerators and Incubators for Women – Startup FundingAs entrepreneurs, we’re always on our grind. And as women, we’ve got to stick together and work hard to meet our goals…www.startupfunding.co

6. BFF co-working spaces

  • Ethels Club — The first private social and wellness club designed with people of color in mind.
  • Femology—A co-working space as well as an incubator for Black women entrepreneurs.

7. BFF communities

  • Digital Undivided—“digitalundivided builds forward-thinking initiatives that change the digital space.”
  • Black Female Founders—“Black Female Founders is an organization providing awareness, resources, and a platform for women-led tech ventures.”
  • Black Women Talk Tech — “We’re here to identify, support and encourage black women to build the next billion-dollar business.”
  • Black Tech Women — “The Black Tech Women’s vision is to be the destination for black women in the technology ecosystem worldwide.”

8. BFF tech media and podcasts

  • Bootstrapped VC — A podcast by Backstage Capital, a venture capital fund “that invests in exceptional women, people of color, and LGBT tech founders.”
  • Blavity — “Blavity is a tech company for forward-thinking Black millennials pushing the boundaries of culture and the status quo.”
  • POCIT — “Telling the stories and thoughts of people of color in tech.”

9. BFF events and conferences

  • AfroTech — An informative and inspiring conference for aspiring entrepreneurs, featuring a wide array of panels and speakers.
  • Essence Fest — An annual music festival which started in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence, a magazine aimed primarily toward African American women.


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Michael Berhane, Founder of POCIT
Lolita Taub
Lolita Taub

Lolita Taub is the Chief of Staff at Catalyte. She is also currently a Venture Partner at NextGen Ventures, an LP at Portfolia’s Enterprise Fund and a former VC at Backstage Capital and K Fund

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