So many problems to solve. Such an elegant solution.
Black Founders Matter has a campaign to sell apparel to generate revenue and awareness for Black and female founders while promoting its own name — a name that sounds a lot like a social movement with dreams of being a fund.
So far, it’s working.
The Black Founders Matter campaign has sold $10,000 worth of T-shirts and sweatshirts bearing the words “Black Founders Matter.” The apparel sells from $49.99 to $69.99, and the people who buy it are both paying for the advertising and providing it by sporting the swag in public.
Portland-based founders Marceau Michel and Kathryn Brown launched Black Founders Matter after struggling to raise early-stage funds for their startups — despite what they say is a market demand for their products, according to their website, BlackFoundersMatter.org.
Just 1 percent of venture-backed companies are launched by a Black founder, while 99 percent are white or Asian, according to the Kapor Center for Social Impact.
Michel is the founder of Werk Horse, an on-demand staffing company. Brown founded ScoutSavvy, a diverse and inclusive recruiting app. She’s the brains behind the Fund Female Founders campaign. Both chose to believe that even if investors wouldn’t take a chance on them, the public would.
“Black Founders Matter has a simple premise of selling T-shirts and sweatshirts for the purpose of not necessarily being political, ‘but literal,'” Michel told Tech Crunch:
“The goal is to hit $10 million in sales within the next two years, and then funnel that money into Black-led startups. “We can shake up venture funding and what it looks like and who gets it,” Michel said. As Michel works to get all the funds in place, he’s working to build a committee that will ultimately decide how to delegate the money.”
You can buy the Black Founders Matter merchandise on Shopify.
If you choose to shop there, you will not be investing in Michel and Brown’s startups, according to their FAQ section. But you will be investing in startups like them:
“And you will not be compensated in shares or a stake in our companies. You are strictly purchasing limited edition merchandise with our campaign logos … Your purchase will be counted as revenue in the typical payment-for-goods model.”
Black founders need cash flow to pay for early-stage startup expenses, including business services, accounting, legal, growth, and more while they figure out product/market fit, according to the Black Founders Matter website. “Many Black founders like us don’t have the luxury of waiting for the product/market fit to jumpstart our revenue.”
The goal is to sell $500,000 in merchandise over the course of the campaign. If you buy the merchandise, “take a picture of yourself wearing it and post it on social media,” the campaign requests. “Your purchase … helps early-stage founders like Marceau with cash flow that they can use to grow their startups.
“Our long-term mission is to launch a fund that distributes funds to Black founders, but we don’t know what that looks like yet.”
Michel said he’s trying to “create something I think the whole world needs. I’m not just trying to solve a problem for Black people, but for everyone,” he told Tech Crunch:
Once people start looking at Black people as CEOs, founders, CFOs and CTOs, Michel is convinced “‘they’re not going to shoot us’ and it will shift ‘the misconception people have about Black people.'”