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Big Donors Are Pledging Big $$ To Address Racial And Economic Inequality. This Company Helps Them ID Black Companies, Communities In Need

Big Donors Are Pledging Big $$ To Address Racial And Economic Inequality. This Company Helps Them ID Black Companies, Communities In Need

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Big donors are pledging big bucks to address racial and economic inequality in the wake of covid-19 and the George Floyd protests. Sevetri Wilson’s Resilia helps them identify Black companies and communities in need. Photo: Thurman Thomas

As large companies start speaking out and pledging money to address racial and economic inequality exacerbated by covid-19, one Black-owned company is uniquely positioned to help benefit Black communities.

Resilia, led by founder and CEO Sevetri Wilson, has found opportunities during the covid-19 pandemic and managed to close an $8 million Series-A round when the economy was shutting down.

Based in New Orleans with a new office in New York City, Resilia helps expedite incorporation and nonprofit exemption status for organizations. Resilia also has a corporate enterprise solution to help companies track and maintain compliance with their donations to community organizations. With access to both sides of the marketplace — for-profit and nonprofit — Resilia can help donors locate otherwise hard-to-find nonprofits serving Black communities and communities of color. The company has expanded to offer organizational support services such as legal, fundraising, and taxes along with educational opportunities for nonprofits.

Since Moguldom last spoke to CEO Wilson, the company changed its name from ExemptMeNow to Resilia.

Bank Of America this week pledged $1 billion to fight systemic racism exacerbated by coronavirus in Black communities and communities of color. The money will go to support small businesses and recruit new bank employees in economically disadvantaged communities, BofA CEO Brian Moynihan said in a press release.


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Facebook promised $10 million to fight racial inequality. Other high-profile CEOs are speaking up about racism including fitness startup Peloton, Intel and Verizon, which announced donations to Black organizations.

“Resilia can put nonprofits that benefit communities of color before the companies and endowments and also provide them with a way to be able to provide the critical information funders are looking for to receive that money,” Wilson told Moguldom.

With more than 2,800 customers including the Kellogg Foundation and United Way, Resilia anticipates growth and is finding new opportunities, even in the current economy, Wilson told Moguldom.

“We help ensure that companies streamline their processes and remain in compliance. So, the release of covid-19 funds presented an opportunity for us and we have been able to move forward by working with a lot of organizations,” Wilson said.

Resilia’s recent $8 million funding round brings a total of $10.5 million raised for the company. Funding sources include Mucker Capital, Callais Capital Management and participation by Cultivation Capital, and previous investors Kevin Lin (formerly of Twitch), Tim Millikin (partner at TPG Capital) and Newark Venture Partners, among others.

Wilson shares with Moguldom what it was like to close a funding round during a global pandemic, why her company gave away $25,000 in microgrants to businesses in New Orleans and tips for entrepreneurs and nonprofits to weather the covid-19 economic storm.

Companies and foundations scout for charities by hiring someone that does not look like us. Black people never even get an opportunity to be in front of these entities to pitch for money. Resilia can put nonprofits that benefit communities of color before companies and endowments and also provide a way to (present) critical information funders are looking for to donate that money.

Sevetri Wilson, founder and CEO of Resilia, a tech company with a mission to harness the power of generosity, technology, and human connection to make nonprofit leadership available for everyone. Resilia’s subscription-based platform also enables enterprises (cities, private foundations and corporations) to scale impact.

Moguldom: Since we last spoke, your company’s brand was updated to the name Resilia, you opened up a new office and most recently you closed an $8 million Series-A funding round in the middle of a global pandemic.

Sevetri Wilson: Yes. We opened our New York office in Bryant Park in January and we still have our office and team in New Orleans too. We have hired about 12 people for the New York office. Due to covid-19, we hired at least three of those positions without actually meeting the employee in person. We have more positions we are trying to hire for, but covid-19 has really changed our processes for hiring. Before everything really happened here in New York, my CTO, COO, and I were working out of the new office. All of our 18 full-time team members along with other contractors are working remotely now. However, since we last spoke, we have continued with the ExemptMeNow focus to help expedite the incorporation and exemption process for nonprofits across all 50 states, and essentially take that down from 100 hours to 10 hours or less for completion with the IRS.

Our customers asked for more help, “what happens next?” And so, we began to think about how to productize additional services for nonprofits. We were able to create this premium subscription platform. We built out the features for the nonprofits and then we started focusing on the grantors, the ones deploying funding such as private foundations, corporations, public charities. We started to focus on what they need and how we could essentially get rid of the silos between grantees and grantors, the ones receiving and deploying the capital. We created an enterprise platform and now we have three products in the market. We are pushing forward with a heavy focus on the corporate enterprise product.

Moguldom: With so many companies and foundations rushing to donate to various causes for COVID-19 relief, has it been difficult to discuss the enterprise products with these types of organizations?

Sevetri Wilson: It has been interesting because we have found opportunities during such a difficult, trying, and unfortunate situation. There has actually been more money deployed over the past three weeks (April 23 to May 14) due to covid-19 than essentially any other natural disaster. I lived through Hurricane Katrina, so I know about the rapid deployment of capital and the disruption to normalcy and inefficiencies from the government. We started thinking back to Katrina and what happens when money is deployed so quickly to organizations. A lot of the work we have built around our technology is to monitor, track, and to connect the dots. We help ensure that companies streamline their processes and remain in compliance. So, the release of COVID-19 funds presented an opportunity for us and we have been able to move forward by working with a lot of organizations.

Moguldom: When large amounts of relief funding are being deployed, we are always concerned about how and if the money will reach and be distributed in Black communities. How can a nonprofit that services communities of color benefit from using your products?

Sevetri Wilson: I was sharing a report with my team that was just released talking about the disparities Black-run organizations have with access to philanthropic dollars. That’s something we, as well as me personally, always think about regarding raising money. I mean if it is a nonprofit or a for-profit, we always have issues raising money no matter the sector.

Getting access to resources is an issue fundamentally rooted in privilege, racism, and inequality that cannot be denied, right? For us, as we continue to bring on these large institutions to our platform and corporations, we also bring on non-profit organizations to our platform. As these companies and foundations begin to utilize our technology they can see the community organizations utilizing our platform for their day-to-day management purposes, and begin to see these charitable entities as a place to contribute funds.

Generally, the way companies and foundations scout for charities are by hiring someone that does not look like us, right? The people hired to find the place to donate the money to go out to their network. So, people of color, in particular Black people, never even get an opportunity to be in a position to be in front of these entities to pitch for money or to even present themselves for money. Or when they get there, they have trouble with being able to show the data, the metrics, and measurements that funders want to see. Because that takes time and money, and you need a dedicated person to do that, it is hard for many nonprofits when so many positions are for people on the ground doing the work, day in and day out.

Callais is my only investor on my cap table this round from Louisiana. That is kind of a big deal because there is so little venture in Louisiana and to have them come in as a co-lead was big for the area.

Sevetri Wilson, founder and CEO of Resilia

So Resilia can put nonprofits that benefit communities of color before the companies and endowments and also provide them with a way to be able to provide the critical information funders are looking for to donate that money. Our platform can not only help newly formed nonprofits but existing ones through our freemium to premium resources. These resources include our webinars on fundraising programs, curriculum design, or management and engagement, and how to do tracking to build out annual reports that help with fundraising.

Moguldom: You didn’t wake up last week and say, “I’m going to go try and raise money during a global pandemic.” Raising money usually happens over months or a year or more. With the economy changing during the last few months, did you have any doubts the $8 million round would close?

Sevetri Wilson: Oh, yes. I have heard the rumblings in the tech space that investors were pulling out of deals. I remember emailing my attorney saying how we needed to get this round closed. I felt like the walls were closing in on me. I felt like I didn’t work so hard to get to this point for covid-19 to move us backward.

As a Black woman, I had to go through a lot of due diligence to get to the other side. We know our counterparts do not have the same process. We closed at the end of March and New Orleans was closed around March 15. I could just feel everything happening around me and I know my investors were feeling it too. So I definitely appreciate my investors because even though everything was closing down and the future seemed uncertain, they still made sure to move forward and complete the deal.

Moguldom: How did you meet your investors Mucker Capital and Callais? 

Sevetri Wilson:  I was at (an) investor event and one of the investors there just happened to be sitting across from me at the dinner table and overheard me talking about my company to another founder. The other founder was talking about her concern with her company and the investor and I were giving the founder advice. The advice was similar, and I guess she thought, “Hmm. She must know what she is talking about.” That investor connected me with the partners in the firm. Mucker Capital put money in previously and they came back to lead this round. Callais is my only investor on my cap table this round from Louisiana. That is kind of a big deal because there is so little venture in Louisiana and to have them come in as a co-lead was big for the area.

Moguldom: With this latest round, what is your new total for funding raised?

Sevetri Wilson: I have raised $10.5 million overall.

Moguldom: Tourism and hospitality have taken a hit globally. New Orleans was still trying to bounce back from Katrina when covid-19 hit. How do you think the recovery will go in that area and how will local people be able to assist?

Sevetri Wilson: It is going to be hard for New Orleans. One of my team members, because she came from the hospitality space, wanted to know what we can do for the smaller businesses like yoga studios or businesses where they have like one or two people employed. Early on with covid-19, Resilia gave out $25,000 in microgrants directly to local businesses and nonprofits. We wanted to work with some of the other organizations but it was taking them too long to mobilize. So, we decided to do the microgrants there in New Orleans and we will begin to do some in Harlem and again in Louisiana soon.

While it may be hard right now to get the attention of venture capitalists and many people are not a fan of them, do not discount pitch competitions right now.

Sevetri Wilson, founder and CEO of Resilia

Moguldom: Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs and nonprofits during this time?

Sevetri Wilson: For entrepreneurs, I would say to not give up and look outside of the box to keep your business going right now. While it may be hard right now to get the attention of venture capitalists and many people are not a fan of them, do not discount pitch competitions right now. It will be hard for people of color to raise money. We traditionally struggle to get money from friends and family. People will less likely to give up their cash when they are worried about the future for themselves. The prize money may help keep your doors open and allow you to continue to build. For nonprofits, I would say to not just look at raising funds from a single source and it may not come from companies right now. Nonprofits do not realize they can bring in funds by working with larger nonprofits who need to subcontract out the work. Look for some of the large government initiatives and grants and follow the money. As people of color, we have to look at all nontraditional avenues right now.

Moguldom: What is coming up for Resilia?

Sevetri Wilson: Our next season on our podcast will release in June. I am excited because we will have Courtney Hodapp, director of nonprofits with JP Morgan Chase Global Philanthropy and Claire Babineaux-Fontenot from Feeding America along with others. We are going to continue to expand our enterprise solutions and add to our customer base. We want to be a part of helping the communities to recover from the economic effects of covid-19 and hopefully, we will be enjoying our new office soon and growing our team.