Interview: Meet The 26-Year-Old Woman Running A Top Investment Accelerator For Black Founders
Precious Drews’ personal story is one of perseverance and passion. She’s the second youngest of eight children and first became an entrepreneur in middle school – making YouTube videos for her favorite artists in exchange for easy money.
Although she didn’t consider herself an entrepreneur – anyone that hears her story can be quick to identify her as a natural-born leader.
She was also the first in her family to go to college and later start her own small business – a natural skin care line that uses recycled coffee grounds, an idea she came up with after attending the UN Convention on Climate Change in Germany.
And after just one year of graduating from college – she became the director of Gener8tor’s gBETA startup accelerator in St. Cloud.
Now she’s the senior director of gener8tor’s Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator, a program that last year supported more than 100 people and $5.2M in follow-on financing.
Despite her many accolades – her journey hasn’t been smooth sailing.
While navigating the – usually – white male-dominated tech industry, she faced several barriers – mainly not understanding what VCs were looking for and the jargon used daily in the sector.
“One challenge I would say I had while getting into tech is just not knowing the language, there are so many acronyms that are thrown out that it can almost seem overwhelming. It makes you feel like you don’t deserve to be in the room because you just don’t understand it.
“So now as someone who works on the other side, I’m able to approach them differently and break it down in a way that’s more digestible.
“But I guess – the other part I didn’t quite grasp while trying to get into the sector is as an entrepreneur – I misunderstood what would be attractive to investors, especially venture capitalists.
“It was so easy for someone to say; ‘oh, you need investors and it’s like, okay, I just need someone to give me money but I didn’t understand that it’s much more than that.”
While working as a senior managing director at Gener8tor – she uses her experience as a long-time entrepreneur to teach and advise the companies the accelerator takes on.
It’s her form of giving back.
But – what does it take to get chosen for the accelerator?
For Precious, she said the product market is very important to her.
“I would say the biggest thing that catches my eyes is the market opportunity, as well as the uniqueness of the product. I think it’s so easy to create something that’s a part of a saturated market.
“But when you put your eye on something that it’s brand new that catches my eye quickly. But of course – I have the honor of exclusively working with companies with Black founders as well so being able to reach a community that is usually overlooked is important to me.”
How does one become a VC or work at an accelerator in a similar role to you?
Most people who get into this don’t actually don’t have a degree. You’d be amazed at how many people in the industry have reached success through networking and simply being given opportunities. I think that’s a big thing.
The problem is there’s a lack of access.
So my advice would be to go out more, go network, and go to as many events not just in your local communities but across the board. There are lots of VC events being launched so just attend those and meet new people who can advise you.
Gener8tor has already invested in dozens of businesses can you tell me a bit more about them?
Gener8tor has invested in the likes of Freeman Capital, which offers a suite of financial planning tools designed from the ground up for underserved communities.
Freeman Capital’s platform provides culturally relevant personalized action plans with access to human financial planners. In its first year, Freeman Capital increased clients’ net worth by an average of 40%. Freeman Capital has +6,700 users and is on pace for $100k in ARR with a paid user retention rate of 98% month over month.
As well as RiftPay, a platform that provides the easiest way to pay with others.
RiftPay’s platform enables groups to spend money together and split payments in real-time. RiftPay has raised over $250k, including a $100k investment from Northwestern Mutual Ventures, and launched their money functional MVP with over 70 handpicked beta testers on the platform