Does Lack Of Funding For Black And Latino Tech Founders Constitute An Existential Crisis?
Blacks make up 11 percent of the U.S. population but just 1 percent of funded startup founders, and lack of funding for black and Latino tech founders could constitute an existential crisis.
“We’re not getting that funding so it’s easy to feel like we dont exist,” said Anthony Frasier in a Moguldom.com interview.
Frasier is CEO of ABF Creative, a multicultural branded podcast network that crafts heritage-driven podcasts. He’s using podcasts to tell the stories of Black and Latino founders in collaboration with Rutgers University.
“Venture capital has it’s own set of rules and it’s own lingo,” Frasier said. “It’s not that there is a lack of Black and Latino founders out there, we’re just not speaking the same language. The media doesn’t highlight the ways founders of color who have raised were able to execute. I want to change that.”
Frasier’s latest venture is a podcast called “VC Cheat Sheet,” being produced in collaboration with Rutgers University Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. Rutgers developed the Black and Latino Tech Initiative to address the 1 percent challenge using the business school’s resources.
The podcast interviews Black and Latino venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and industry experts on how minority business owners can raise money to fund their business. A first- of-its-kind branded podcast, “VC Cheat Sheet” serves as a relevant resource for Black and Latino entrepreneurs who seek a mentor-mentee relationship on venture capital funding from people who “look like” them, Frasier said in a press release. These entrepreneurs get access to high-level information they would otherwise never hear, he said.
Lack of funding is no secret for people of color and women in the tech industry, Frasier told Moguldom.com. “Bias plays a huge part, but the focus has to be on recreating the narrative and giving these founders the cheat codes.”
An-entrepreneur-in residence with Newark Venture Partners, Frasier spends most of his time working with startups. Newark Venture Partners was founded by Don Katz, who also founded Audible, an Amazon company.
In a Moguldom.com interview, Frasier said he chose podcast as the medium to help founders of color navigate the VC landscape “because it’s a new medium. “(Podcast)’s been around for a while but I feel it’s just hitting its stride. It’s a way to consume media where people aren’t feeling as much ‘sold-to.’ It’s more authentic, especially for heritage-driven (storytelling).”
Melissa S. Jackson, program director at Rutgers, is playing host on “VC Cheat Sheet.” Frasier is executive producer. Rutgers taps investors and entrepreneurs who’ve raised millions to help mentor black and Latino startups digitally. The podcast interviews black and Latino venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and industry experts on how minority business owners can raise money to fund their businesses.
“We just focus on stories that come from culture,” Frasier told Moguldom.com. “We feel those stories are missing. It’s more than just hip hop, its more than just urban. It’s about teaming up with brands and helping them identify with those cultures.”
Frasier was one of eight founders profiled on CNN’s 2011 documentary, “Black in America 4: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley.”
What inspired Frasier to do this work?
“I’m a storyteller,” he said. “I dropped out of NYU film school and I’ve been in tech industry ever since, creating apps and being in a position to bring a light to what’s in the dark. I can do that with topics in black culture. What inspires me is being able to dig deep and go beyond what you might be able to hear on radio.”
Frasier said he has spent a great deal of his career working on the diversity-in-tech challenge, “and now that I get the opportunity to educate from the investor side, I’m taking on the challenge even more.”:
“We’re not going to see more problems being solved until more venture capital finds its way to more black and Latino founde,” Frasier said. “Those problems are the stories. The reason we don’t think those stories exist is because we don’t hear those stories. We’re not being able to build companies around our stories. We’re not getting that funding so it’s easy to feel like we don’t exist.”
So far, the “VC Cheat Sheet” podcast features Brad Feld of Foundry Group, Kai Bond of Comcast Ventures, Porter Braswell of Jopwell, and law advice from Gunderson Dettmer Associates, among others.
Interviews topics include networking, agreements, accelerators, and understanding different levels of funding.
A lot of it is advice rarely given to Black and Latino tech entrepreneurs, Frasier said. “VC Cheat Sheet” will be available on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher at www.VCCheatSheet.com.