Harlem Capital Closes $40 Million Inaugural Fund
Harlem Capital Partners, a New York City-based Black-owned firm that’s busting stereotypes in Silicon Valley venture capital culture, has closed a $40.3 million fund to invest in disruptive Black and women founders and founders of color.
The fund was oversubscribed from its target of $25 million and exceeded its initial cap of $40 million, Harlem Capital Partners announced.
About 80 percent of investors are white males. Black investors represent about 2 percent of venture capitalists, according to the National Venture Capital Association.
“I generally think venture is doing better in funding diverse entrepreneurs, but most of it has been gender-focused and not on men and women of color,” said Henri Pierre-Jacques, managing partner of Harlem Capital. “We had originally targeted less than $40 million but, one thing we realized as angel investors, was that lots of founders of color were taking longer to raise, and now we can help them get that million dollars instead of half a million dollars.”
Harlem Capital was founded in a Harlem living room in 2015 as an angel syndicate by managing partners Pierre-Jacques and Henri Jarrid Tingle, and venture partner Brandon Bryant. John Henry joined Harlem Capital in 2017 as a venture partner after launching Harlem’s first incubator, Cofound Harlem. The firm invested in six companies as angels and launched the $40 million fund — Fund I — in June 2018.
The fund has 55 limited partners including TPG, State of Michigan Retirement Systems, Vanderbilt University, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Consumer Technology Association, and Dorm Room Fund. Half of Harlem Capital’s individual limited partners are women or people of color in line with the firm’s mission.
Fund I has made eight investments including Jobble, a marketplace for the gig economy; Wagmo, a pet wellness platform; and Aunt Flow, a B2B feminine hygiene products company. The fund expects to invest in 30 companies.
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“This closing is a huge accomplishment for us, but also just the beginning of a long mission to change the face of entrepreneurship,” said Pierre-Jacques in a prepared statement. “The fundraising process was truly humbling and enabled us access to so many incredible people.”
Harlem Capital received an early, non-controlling investment as part of a strategic partnership with TPG, which provides added resources and expertise to accelerate growth. It also has partnerships with KKR and Techstars to help change the narrative around what investors and entrepreneurs look like.
Techstars runs 47 mentorship-driven accelerator programs globally including in most large U.S. cities. The goal of the partnership is for Harlem Capital to refer diverse founders to Techstars, help fast-track their application process and increase deal flow. Techstars will refer diverse-led, early-stage companies to Harlem Capital for the capital they need to scale and grow, the companies said in a press release.
KKR, which has $200 billion in assets private equity, developed a partnership that will refer Harlem Capital’s interns and entrepreneurial applicants to KKR for internship and full-time hiring. The partnership will focus on Harlem Capital applicants who are interested in careers in investment management, potentially matching them with opportunities across KKR’s global reach, Forbes reported.