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Although Fearless Fund has lone been astir since 2019, it is good connected its mode to raising $20 cardinal successful enactment of entrepreneurs that are women of colour (WOC).
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Arian Simone co-founded the money with actress Keshia Knight Pulliam and concern executive Ayana Parsons, to code the disparity that exists successful task superior backing for women of color. VC backing to women not lone dropped 27 percent betwixt 2020 and 2019, but less than 1 percent of WOC-owned businesses person funding, adjacent though number women relationship for 89 percent of caller women-owned businesses.
The Atlanta-based fund, which Simone expects to put successful astir 30 startups, invests successful pre-seed, effect and Series A companies focused connected exertion crossed the user packaged goods, manner and quality industries. It has invested successful six companies truthful far, including:
- Detroit-based beverage institution Ellis Island Tea;
- EnrichHER, an Atlanta-based fintech level for women entrepreneurs;
- 100 Black Angels Fund, a chap capitalist successful minority-founded startups; and
- Hairbrella, an Atlanta-based “rain-chic” manner brand.
We spoke to Simone astir fundraising, Fearless Fund’s ngo and its future. What follows has been lightly edited for magnitude and clarity.
What was the fund-raising acquisition like?
Simone: At first, we concentrated connected friends and household to stock successful our ngo and vision. It has been an absorbing journey. It was hard astatine archetypal due to the fact that what we are doing hasn’t been done yet. We are 1 of the archetypal WOC funds, but we don’t program connected being the last. People had questions, specified arsenic if the marketplace was ample enough, which it is — a batch of women of colour commencement their ain businesses, but are the slightest funded.
Over time, it got easier to rise funding, and organizations similar Invest Atlanta and Fifth Third Bank started looking astatine us. They began to spot that we were onto something, and we went astir getting organization investors. We started a $5 cardinal conception money successful 2020, but here came PayPal and pushed that done the roof. We went from $5 cardinal to $20 cardinal with an enactment to oversubscribe.
At the aforesaid time, determination was a planetary pandemic and everyone was sitting still, truthful it made meetings spell quicker. I couldn’t question to Silicon Valley oregon New York, truthful I took tons of Zoom meetings, which worked successful our favor. Then the societal justices happened done Black Lives Matter and constabulary brutality. We knew we had to instrumentality enactment and instrumentality a relation successful number equity, and that each worked successful our favor. Normally, it would instrumentality an emerging money longer conscionable to rise this magnitude of money, but aft Black Lives Matter, determination was a domino effect, and the stars started to align.
How bash you similar to enactment with founders?
Simone: I americium passionate astir this. We enactment with founders astatine an attentive level. We are erstwhile entrepreneurs and operators turned task capitalists. We are involved, but not successful a pushy way. We are hands-on, but not invasive. We supply enactment and brace entrepreneurs with antithetic corporations truthful determination is simply a 360-degree relationship. Founders emotion having the C-suite expertise, portion determination is simply a imaginable exit connected the firm end. We besides supply mentorship, celebrities and influencers who assistance with the selling and firm approach. We are much a strategical partner, much than conscionable the capital.
How bash you spot Fearless Fund turning the tide connected systemic racism impacting Black women entrepreneurs?
Simone: We are making a mark, but we request to marque a dent. We request billions of dollars to marque a dent. We are conscionable doing our portion successful the country of systemic racism, and we request different radical to articulation connected the journey.
What needs to beryllium successful spot to animate much women of colour to commencement their ain companies?
Simone: I don’t deliberation they request to beryllium inspired. Women of colour are founding businesses much than ever. What needs to beryllium inspired is investors similar america due to the fact that the manufacture is inactive 80 percent portion males. It is not conscionable a deficiency of investment, but a deficiency of investors who are diverse. This is what is going to alteration the different fig — much diverseness of radical investing volition alteration it. We request much women of colour cutting checks.
Where bash you spot Fearless Fund headed?
Simone: At this stage, our adjacent steps are to place the adjacent winning portfolio companies and foster and enactment their needs. This is money one, but we program connected a money 2 and 3 and past person larger funds afterward. Our extremity is marque definite we rise quickly, money rapidly and instrumentality quickly. We are going to nurture founders and make the biggest occurrence stories.
Illustration: Dom Guzman