HBCUvc’s 31 Under 31: The Future of Venture Capital

HBCUvc’s 31 Under 31: The Future of Venture Capital


At HBCUvc, we don’t put too much stock in “best of” lists or other league tables that purport to sort people by merit. Ranked lists don’t do a good job of assessing an individual’s worth or accurately measuring her contributions to an industry like venture capital where feedback cycles are long and the best contributors often work behind the scenes to help entrepreneurs succeed. On top of this, the lists tend to focus on the accomplishments of White men at the expense of other contributors. The lists’ purpose may be to spotlight the best talent in VC, but they end up exacerbating bias by failing to paint the whole picture of who makes up the industry.

Nevertheless, lists do have an impact. If an investor’s name is on a list, she is more visible amid the myriad entrepreneurs, co-investors, media, conference organizers and others who can open doors to new opportunities and career-defining moments. Despite the inherent flaws of lists and leaderboards, we all have an interest in making sure that depictions of achievement and promise in the venture capital industry include those people who are ordinarily overlooked and underestimated.

That’s why we’re excited to announce the inaugural class of the HBCUvc 31 Under 31 List. We paint a fuller picture of who is coming up the ranks in VC today, and we show just how diverse the class is in terms of race, ethnicity, geography, and role. You’ll find Black and Latinx members of the VC community who are doing incredible work with companies operating across sectors and stages. In order to identify people who’ve enjoyed success but who also have the potential to go even further in their venture capital careers, we solicited nominations via social media, an email campaign, word-of-mouth, and our extensive network of entrepreneurs, GPs, LPs, and executives working on the front lines.

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In our selection process, we widened the filter and welcomed nominations of principal investors and also community managers, accelerator managers, service providers, and others who invest in innovation. We salute those who made the final list — a group of people who reflect the very best emerging talents working in venture capital today.

Frederik Groce, Storm Ventures

Frederik Groce

Frederik is an associate at Storm Ventures, and an active investor focused on early-stage B2B. After finishing his undergrad education, Frederik spent two years as CEO of Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE), with more than one hundred employees, total assets exceeding $15 million, and his responsibilities included overseeing Stanford’s accelerator program. Frederik is also the founder and current board chair of BLCK VC, an organization aimed at increasing the number of black people working in Venture Capital.

Javaughn Lawrence, Eniac Ventures

Javaughn Lawrence

Javaughn found his way to San Francisco by way of New York, Miami, and his home country: Jamaica. An Associate investor at Eniac Ventures, he focuses on sourcing, diligence and portfolio support. He sourced the firm’s 1.5m investment in Quantum Computing company, Bleximo, and has performed diligence for 20 of the firm’s investments since joining last year.

Ollie Howie, Greenspring Associates

Ollie Howie

A 2018 graduate of Harvard University, where he studied Economics, Ollie is passionate about startups and investing and it shows. At Greenspring Associates, he pours that passion for early-stage investing. During his time in undergrad, he interned with Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. His experience within the business world helped prepare him to found his own company, Boss Moves Records.

Alex Marshall, Backstage Capital

Alex Marshall

Alex Marshall is the Director of Platform for Backstage Capital’s portfolio. Of course, she’s used to heavy responsibilities; as an Olympic weightlifter, she knows a thing or two about big lifts. A co-founder of Health IQ — a special rate insurer for health-conscious people that’s raised over $80M — Marshall has been ranked top 30 female founders in the US in the Quartz and Pitchbook Founders Index, and is ranked the 4th Latina in the US for the most money raised in venture capital. Before diving into the world of investing and VC, she built a career at Goldman Sachs in the securities division. Outside the office, she dedicates herself to health-focused education reform and immigration cases.

Janisa Hayes, AffinitiVC

Janisa Hayes

Janisa Hayes is a multi-hyphenate leader. Currently, she serves as Chief of Staff for AffinitiVC. Working out of the Washington, D.C. office, she supports the firm’s efforts creating access to capital for women and people of color. Before venture capital, Janisa worked in education as a teacher with Teach For America. In the classroom, she accelerated her students’ individual math growth by an average of over two grade levels in a single school year.

This impactful success led to Janisa’s rapid promotion to Grade-Level Chair. In that position, she led fellow teachers in creating systems and processes for all seventh-grade students. After teaching, Janisa moved into venture philanthropy where she worked to create access to capital for communities of color. In addition to working on the homefront, Janisa has years of international experience living and working abroad in South Africa and China. She brings these skills, experiences, and perspective to the venture capital community.

Marcia Chong Rosado, Village Capital

Marcia Chong Rosado

Marcia knows how to close a deal. A Latina immigrant from Guayaquil, Ecuador, she has led initiatives in entrepreneurship, venture capital, and in Pay for Success/Social Impact Bonds. As head of Financial Health Innovation at Village Capital, she leads the US initiatives supporting entrepreneurs with financial technology solutions that improve economic mobility for consumers and small businesses. She will also be exploring new investment structures that are more equitable and appropriate for ventures with a wide range of potential growth trajectories.

Prior to Village Capital, Marcia was an early member of the Third Sector Capital Partners team, where she developed the first Pay for Success/Social Impact Bonds in the U.S. Marcia deeply cares about elevating diverse founders and investors within venture capital.

John Henry, Harlem Capital

John Henry

John Henry isn’t new to the world of business. At 18, the Dominican-American entrepreneur and investor started and grew his first company. At 21, he successfully led it to acquisition. Now, he’s a Partner at Harlem Capital, a diversity-focused early-stage VC firm focused on finding the next generation of great diverse founders.

Henri Perri-Jacques, Harlem Capital

Henri Pierre-Jacques

Henri Pierre-Jacques knows what it takes to succeed. As Co-founder and Managing Partner of Harlem Capital Partners, the Haitian-American Detroiter focuses on fund strategy, partnerships, value-add opportunities and financial analysis. As an MBA candidate at Harvard Business School (2019), Henri continues to deepen his background in finance and business. Before Harlem Capital, he was a Private Equity Investment Professional at ICV Partners; an Investment Banker at Bank of America Merrill Lynch; and sat on a non-profit board for two years for Management Leadership for Tomorrow.

Henri was presented the Forbes 30 Under 30 2019 and EBONY Power 100 2018 awards. He has also been featured in Forbes, Black Enterprise and PitchBook.

Brandon Bryant, Harlem Capital

Brandon Bryant

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Brandon Bryant is a co-founder of Harlem Capital. With his fellow co-founders, Henri Pierre-Jacques and John Henry, he works to further HCP’s mission to change the face of entrepreneurship by investing in 1,000 diverse founders over the next 20 years.

While HCP invests in founders from all backgrounds, they are committed to reserving at least 50% of their capital for investments in minority and women founders in the United States.

Brandon brings a diverse set of skills to this mission, having spent 3 years at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. After his time there, he focused social media marketing and branding with his digital company, Wall Street Paper, which has been featured in GQ, Esquire, NY Magazine, Complex, and more.

Jarrid Tingle, Harlem Capital

Jarrid Tingle

Jarrid Tingle is Co-founder and Managing Partner of Harlem Capital, a venture capital firm on a mission to change the face of entrepreneurship by investing in 1,000 women and minority founders over the next 20 years. Jarrid was featured on the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 list and the 2018 Ebony Power 100 list. He is currently an MBA Candidate at Harvard Business School. He graduated cum laude from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Upon graduation, Jarrid received the Wharton Undergraduate Dean’s Award for Excellence (Wharton’s highest honor).

Prior to Harlem Capital, Jarrid was a Private Equity Investor at ICV Partners. Before ICV, he worked in the Global Technology, Media & Telecommunications Investment Banking Group at Barclays. Outside of Harlem Capital and HBS, Jarrid is Graduate Board Vice President for the Eta Chapter of Delta Phi Fraternity, a mentor in the TEAK program, and a fellow in the Robert Toigo Foundation and Management Leadership for Tomorrow MBA Programs.

Maria Salamanca, Unshackled Ventures

Maria Salamanca

Maria Salamanca is a venture capitalist at Unshackled Ventures, and an activist leader and advisor with Swing Left and Higher Ground Labs. At Unshackled Ventures, she helps fund immigrant founder-led teams at the earliest stage of pre-seed. Maria joined the fund in 2016 and has been involved in all 22 investments, having evaluated more than 2,500 deals throughout. As a key figure in the pre-seed investment community, Maria supports underrepresented founders just like herself. In 2018, she was the first Latina named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for Venture Capital and Business Insider’s Under 30 Rising Stars.

She is deeply involved in supporting the Latino entrepreneurship ecosystem, including being on the committee for the first ever StartupWeekend: Latinx Tech Edition and creating the first list and group of Latinas in Venture Capital. This strong support and investment in her community that won her the 2017 California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Shark of Year. Before joining Unshackled, Maria worked at FWD.us, an immigration lobbying group founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Ron Conway, Reid Hoffman, and other tech leaders.

Chisom Uche, SixThirty

Chisom Uche

Chisom is the Associate for SixThirty, a global FinTech venture fund that invests in B2B startups with established market traction, where he primarily focuses on deal sourcing and managing global pipeline activities. SixThirty’s mission is to attract the most innovative and promising FinTech ideas, and work with like-minded corporate partners to mentor and grow them into great businesses. Before SixThirty, Chisom spent time as an Investment Analyst for Cultivation Capital and as the Digital Marketing Manager for TopOPPS, a St. Louis-based sales software startup.

Terri Burns, GV

Terri Burns

Terri Burns is a renaissance woman. As principal at Google Ventures (GV), she is one of four women and the only non-partner working on the investing team with sourcing and deal flow. At the non-profit All Raise, she’s a fundraising team member; All Raise’s mission is to increase the diversity of funders and founders in the technology industry. She’s also on the board of the nonprofit Brave Initiatives, which teaches coding skills to girls from underserved geographic and economic communities.

Prior to joining GV, Terri was a product manager at Twitter where she helped improve the home timeline; before that, she was a developer evangelist at Venmo. Terri is also an international speaker, covering topics related to how technology impacts various communities. Terri is a frequent thought leader, regularly writing about technology, diversity, and inclusion, having been featured in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, Scientific American, and Teen Vogue.

Lewam Kefela, VilCap Investments

Lewam Kefela

As an Investment Analyst at VilCap Investments, Lewam contributes to investments and portfolio management across the fund’s global activities. Most recently, she worked as an analyst at the Carlyle Group focusing on the emerging market funds.

Prior to that, she gained skills at an Iowa-based financial technology startup (pre-IPO), contributing to the product, customer success, and company strategy. Lewam graduated from the College of William and Mary where she studied Finance and Economics and studied abroad at Tsinghua University in Beijing. She is originally from Eritrea and was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya.

Jomayra Herrera, Emerson Collective

Jomayra Herrera

Jomayra Herrera works as an investor at Emerson Collective, a social change organization dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity for everyone. She specializes in the organization’s education technology, HR, and workforce investments. Jomayra spends most of her time identifying promising companies, driving the diligence process, and helping the team develop a point of view on particular parts of the market.

Before joining Emerson Collective, she worked at an ed tech startup focused on transforming professional development opportunities for teachers. In 2018, Jomayra was a Forbes 30 under 30 winner in education.

Monique Villa, Mucker Capital

Monique Villa

Monique Villa is on the investment team at Mucker Capital, a seed and “pre-seed” stage fund investing in companies powering a software-enabled world. She is also the Founder of Nashville-based ModernCapital, a collective of creative thinkers from the private, public, and civic sectors who believe the best talent will #BuildInSE (Build in the Southeast).

At Velos Partners, a tech-enabled consumer venture capital firm in Los Angeles and Singapore, Monique was on the founding team as Head of Investor Relations. Following her time at Velos, Monique ran Startup Summer, an accelerator for middle and high school students from low-income communities with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Greater Los Angeles. Most recently, she worked for Core Innovation Capital, a FinTech focused venture capital fund in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Earlier in her career, she managed business development and client relations for TAG Strategic, a boutique consulting firm advising digital entertainment startups. Her love for building startups began 10 years ago while interning for Tom’s, where she helped to launch the company’s first pop-up store, supported finance and inventory management for a cross-country Vagabond Tour, and oversaw the Southwest campus rep program spanning 30 college campuses in 5 states.

Yvette Rodriguez, Cultivation Capital

Yvette Rodriguez

Yvette is a Principal at Cultivation Capital. In this role, she works on the firm’s Tech Funds, focusing on business to business software as a service offerings and assists with deal execution, sourcing, due diligence, and portfolio management. Previously, Yvette has worked with various accelerators — she was responsible for developing and managing the deal pipeline for PWE Startup Accelerator, one of the first female-focused accelerators in the country.

Yvette started her professional career started as a St. Louis Fellow for Venture for America in 2015. Yvette has held roles as Launch Liaison for VFA and serves as a mentor and judge for various local pitch competitions. She also volunteers with Brazen, Mission St. Louis, and Questbridge. Yvette grew up in Southern California, where her family still resides, and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Economics & History. She’s also a Venture for America and SEO alumnus.

Anastasia Tarpeh-Ellis, Backstage Capital

Anastasia Tarpeh-Ellis

Anastasia is the Managing Director of Backstage Los Angeles, which is one of the four cities of Backstage Accelerator. She leads her team in providing six companies, led by underestimated founders, the support they need to reach their next critical milestone. Anastasia is also a founder herself — having co-founded bosa, a wellness and productivity app that empowers consultants to provide the highest level of service to their clients.

Arnulfo “Chacho” Valadez, Jr., Backstage Capital

Arnulfo “Chacho” Valadez, Jr.

Chacho’s journey to VC is anything but regular. He went from helping retail customers in a Detroit Sprint store, to a Twitter connection and side projects with Backstage Capital founder Arlan, to a full-time role. Now, he works towards growing representation in tech as Arlan’s apprentice as well as an Investment Associate. He has experience running day-to-day operations at small businesses, business development, and sales. The son of a US immigrant, Chacho has a strong desire to highlight diversity, especially amongst the Latinx entrepreneur community. Chacho has been featured in Quartz, Inc and Business Insider.

Chris Wallace, Greycroft

Chris Wallace

Chris Wallace is an investor at Greycroft, a leading venture capital firm focused on investments in the internet and mobile markets. Based in the New York office, Chris’ responsibilities include evaluating investment opportunities, deal execution, sourcing new deals, and supporting existing portfolio companies.

Prior to joining Greycroft, Chris worked in Product Management at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In that role, Chris designed and built in-house analytics solutions and data visualization tools and explored key strategic partnerships with FinTech startups.

Chris holds a B.A. in Economics from Columbia University. He spent four months in Senegal where he studied Alternative Economies and Micro-financing Strategies. During his time in the West African country, Chris worked as an Entrepreneurial Analyst at the Chamber of Commerce in Kaolack, providing guidance to entrepreneurs in rural areas on their international growth strategies. He supports small businesses in his community in Harlem, NY, and has experience consulting restaurants in the area on their digital strategy and operations.

Jennifer Van Dam, Innovation Works

Jennifer Van Dam

Jenn helps early-stage startups build and grow in southwestern Pennsylvania. She serves as Digital & Community Engagement Manager at Innovation Works (IW) managing IW’s brand, message and community relationships. Jenn also serves as a resource to IW portfolio companies, helping them develop their marketing strategies. She’s committed to supporting and empowering people of color, LGBTQIA folks, women, and underserved communities to prosper in tech and entrepreneurship. Jenn doesn’t just focus on this work through her role with Innovation Works, its programs, and companies. Rather, she also brings that commitment to her role on several local boards, and committees including Invest In Her, Pittsburgh’s only all-women entrepreneur pitch competition.

Prior to her current role, Jenn served as the Program Coordinator at IW’s startup accelerator, AlphaLab. Before IW, Jenn served as a Customer Specialist at Squarespace and a development assistant at the Third Wave Fund. She has been a guest speaker and panelist at local and national conferences, including the Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco where she has spoken about “bro-culture” and the ways that startups can develop a culture that is inclusive of everyone.

Tyler Dean, Point72 Ventures

Tyler Dean

Originally from Chicago, Tyler is helpingbuild a venture capital firm–Point72 Ventures — for billionaire hedge fund titan, Steve Cohen. At age 18, he was one of fourteen freshmen nationwide selected to work at Morgan Stanley’s summer financial analyst program and became a national student ambassador for the firm. From there, he worked for five venture capital firms before graduating from college at the age of 22. Those roles included being an analyst at Joe Lonsdale’s 8VC, founding student partner at Contrary Capital, summer associate at Jeffrey Katzenburg’s WndrCo, remote intern at Felicis Ventures, and Venture Capital Fellow at Unshackled Ventures.

At Point72, Tyler is heavily focused on Fintech with the goal of being the go-to FinTech domain expert, thought partner, fact-checker and co-investor. In his free time, he is building an after-school program to teach at-risk inner-city youth about venture capital and entrepreneurship. He also loves to travel — having lived in Finland, Argentina, and Mexico and doing DIY projects.

Amiah Sheppard, Backstage Capital

Amiah Sheppard

As the director of Backstage Accelerator LA,Amiah Sheppard is an innovation curator and investor. She’s spent the last 5 years examining the myriad ways founders harness, strategize, and utilize their unique socio-cultural location to get to their desired outcome. A graduate of Columbia University in New York, NY, she cultivated an academic and practical education leveraging sociology to explore gender and organizational leadership — specifically women/women of color’s leadership experiences — human resources, social impact consulting, entrepreneurship, and business development.

A perpetual learner, Amiah has prioritized creating and implementing intersectional solutions previously at BRAVA Investments and Propper Daley. Currently, she is particularly excited about beauty and wellness tech companies.

Enyi Okebugwu

Enyi Okebugwu

Enyiis an Investment Analyst at Omidyar Network where he sources and evaluates for-profit and nonprofit investments for the Education initiative. Prior to joining Omidyar Network, Enyi worked on the investment team at Village Capital, where he was responsible for operationalizing a highly granular investor and mentor database to support the firm’s portfolio companies across the globe.

Before Village Capital, he spent time as an Impact Fellow with Bridge International Academies, where he drove the development process for Bridge’s first cohort of primary schools in Nigeria. Enyi began his career by founding a social enterprise, Legendary Tutors, focused on providing high-quality test prep and college admissions consulting to underserved high school students in the south side of Chicago.

Lydia Galbreath, Gunderson Dettmer

Lydia Galbreath

Lydia Galbreath hails from Charlotte, NC. With an entrepreneurial spirit, she choose Berkeley Law to obtain her Juris Doctorate. This move across the country provided her greater access to technology and entrepreneurship near the thriving technology hub of Silicon Valley. She found her niche’ in law school when learning about the intersection of startups and law. Since graduating from Berkeley Law she’s become a startup lawyer at Gunderson Dettmer supporting emerging companies through formation to exit.

At Gunderson, she specializes in the representation of emerging growth companies from consumer internet, software, telecommunications, and entertainment technology industries, as well as a number of leading venture capital firms.

She obtained her undergraduate degree from Howard University, where she graduated summa cum laude and a member of phi beta kappa. Lydia is an avid traveler as she obtained her 30 countries by age 30 goal, she’s on a mission to explore more of the world.

Amira Ouji, Metaprop

Amira Ouji

Amira is MetaProp’s Senior Associate leading Startup Services, working closely with the team and founders to help entrepreneurs frame and disseminate their needs and navigate through the MetaProp community’s vast resources. Before joining MetaProp, Amira led events and community under the leadership of the Director of Labs for early-stage venture capital fund Newark Venture Partners.

She’s had a robust career that led to Accenture’s Digital internal marketing communications team where she reduced project costs by 24% by identifying inefficiencies, and implementing creative process improvements. Always having an affinity for tech entrepreneurs and really wanting to follow her passion, she leveraged her expertise in brand marketing and landed the Marketing Manager role, on the founding team, at HBCUvc, a nonprofit organization that trains students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in venture capital and technology entrepreneurship. She graduated from Howard University, where she studied Business Marketing.

Amira is obsessed with Astrology and loves creating her own natural beauty products.

Delores Wilson, BEACON

Deloris Wilson

Deloris Wilson is a social entrepreneur, ecosystem builder, and advocate for women’s rights. In her dual role as an Inclusive Innovation Fellow at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Technology Law and Policy + Head of Strategy and Operations for BEACON: The DC Women Founders Initiative, she advises an innovative public-private partnership supporting over 400 women entrepreneurs and numerous investment partners in generating on-ramps for resources and support to marginalized entrepreneurial communities.

In 2016, she founded AXL (aksel), a social impact advisory agency that supports mission-driven organizations and firms to enhance their diversity and inclusion strategies in creative and quantifiable ways. As a graduate of Spelman College, Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Georgetown Law, she is an avid traveler, mixed-media artist and strategist committed to promoting equity and inclusion worldwide.

Jordan King, Techstars

Jordan King

Jordan is a graduating senior studying electrical engineering at Prairie View A&M University. Jordan currently works as an Associate at Techstars, where he identifies, sources, and screen startups globally for the MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars.

Before Techstars, Jordan served as an analyst for Accenture Ventures, and has worked on projects with Active Capital. Jordan is a proud inaugural member of the HBCUvc Venture Fellowship program.

Khrys Hatch, Launch Tennessee

Khrys Hatch

Khrys works full-time as a Program Coordinator for Launch Tennessee, a public-private partnership with the state government to support Tennessee’s wide array of innovative startups. He helps guide and implement capital programs, including sourcing and recommending deals for their social impact fund, supporting a portfolio of companies from a fully invested $30 million dollar fund, and administering a matching grant for companies who have received SBIR awards.

His journey to VC began during his undergraduate experience at Fisk University. Although he was in the music business program, he was drawn to the community he saw among the computer science students back at Fisk. As a result, Khrys took part in several national tech immersion programs for minorities. The networks from those programs introduced him to an opportunity to learn about startups and venture capital through HBCUvc.

Megan Holston-Alexander, Unusual Ventures

Megan Holston-Alexander

Megan was born and raised in historic Montgomery, AL and went on to earn a BA in Sociology from Clark Atlanta University, an MA in Sociology from the University of Houston, and an MBA from Stanford GSB. She began working in nonprofit to use her research background to help create better metrics to more efficiently measure outcomes and impact. While working toward her MBA, she held investment internships at Omidyar Network, Foundation Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners and recently chaired revival of the Stanford Black Business Conference after a 10-year hiatus. She currently works as a full-time investor at Unusual Ventures incubating & accelerating high-growth startups through early-stage investments and founded a venture capital blog, A Black Girl in Venture.

Sydney Thomas, Precursor Ventures

Sydney Thomas

Sydney is the Senior Associate at Precursor Ventures. She also serves on the Board of Beyond Emancipation, NextGen VC, and Invanti, a startup generator in the midwest.

Prior to joining Precursor, Sydney gained experience working in technology startups in business development and product marketing. She has done everything from writing federal SBIR grants to managing a customer success team.

Prior to her work in tech, she managed public-private partnerships for the NYC Government’s Department of Education and Office of Financial Empowerment. Over the course of her tenure, she drafted federal legislation, negotiated a multi-million dollar contract and received a full-ride scholarship to her business school of choice.

Sydney graduated from Berkeley with her MBA and Duke with her BA.

This article was originally published at Medium/HBCUvc. It is reposted here with the permission of Hadiyah Mujhid, the CEO and founder of HBCUvc. Read the original.