I’m so grateful to have raised $2.2 million to boost my music tech startup Favorite, a platform dedicated to fandoms. I entered the fundraising scene knowing that raising money would be an uphill battle, for any first-time founder, let alone someone like me – a black woman. A first generation was born to Ghanian parents. A mother of two children.
However, it was only when a list confirmed that I had raised the most venture capital in music and entertainment as a black woman that I realized that the time of my coming here alone had come. how much. While most will celebrate, I still remember the horrible number just 34 black women, which raised over $1 million prior to 2018. While we expect to see this number begin to grow in 2020, I have questioned why we are still in a world where we are We are forced to celebrate literally just a fraction of the rate of increase over many years. Since funding is given to founders overall, Totally outstanding, the average amount raised for black women is literally $0, as most do not receive financial support.
While many people are moved to see me break this glass ceiling, and I am grateful, I am more concerned about why this is considered such a rare achievement.
Why Is this too common? Why Am I one of the only people who can say they did this? It feels like the moment when you think you’re really late for a meeting. You finally get there nervously, only to realize that you were the first there. Wait, where is everyone? As the fog surrounds the founders who are black women in the landscape, women in general are in considerable difficulty, receiving only 2.4% VC funding. Only 1.2% VC funding is for black people, regardless of gender. However, at the cross-section of both of these, only 2% out of 2% sponsored women are black women, receive only .0006% risky investment. What kind of numbers are these?
This becomes especially confusing when we take a step back and look at the entire music industry. So many musical cultures across almost every musical genre — from the popular dominance of hip hop to the early origins of rock & roll — are fueled by black creativity. However, founders from these groups are underrepresented.
Unfortunately, it’s not by accident, it’s not because there are so few diverse founders, it’s not objectively lacking in talent, nor is it a lack of hustle. Trust me, I’m not one to expect people to give someone a chance simply because of their kindness. That person need to It takes a lot of hustle, practice, and persistence to even become an entrepreneur. Growing up, like many born to immigrant parents, I was taught that motivation, but more importantly, learned to never let anyone stop my motivation based on their own low expectations of what I could achieve. As a mom of a toddler and a baby, I know most people think motherhood will slow me down or distract me from work, let alone running a startup. business as a single founder. Instead, I couldn’t tell you how motivated I am to inspire my daughters with my hard work. It’s because of motherhood that I’m forced to learn how to make an impact every day so effectively (working moms, you know). Motherhood produces such desirable traits in a founder, so why is it often mistaken for a weakness?
That said, I can be as empowered as I want to be in myself, but that doesn’t change what I face in every professional and personal situation when people see me. Often the first doubt pops up: “Oh, you’re here? How do you…” The underrepresented know that we automatically need to work a lot harder than others to get the same recognition in most spaces. Not only do we have to work our way up to the initial expectations but everyone else starts from far get over that to be taken seriously. Exceptionalism is our entry level.
I know that I am no longer alone in embracing this innate drive as a diversity founder. There are many diverse founders out there who have incredible concepts with the ability to make it happen. They simply may not reach the people who currently hold the capital and resources to help the founders’ idea come to fruition. For those who do, there are often unconscious whispers in the ears of investors reminding them that this person is further from what they know or have experienced, and therefore may be justified. due to avoid trusting the credibility of the founder. Instilling trust is one of the most important factors for founders to successfully secure early VC funds, so without that, a deal is highly unlikely.
I know many investors reading this may of course feel that this is not about them. It can’t be, right? They don’t blatantly belittle some founders based on their demographics, so no, this is about others. While there are those who have been working tirelessly for change, and there are those who are satisfied, ehm, keeping a small circle, mostly sitting in the middle, with no action being taken. It’s the stillness, the acceptance through inaction, the grooming under the rug because someone else will handle it, those are the most annoying things.
This indifference carries a huge risk – we are seriously slowing innovation. We urgently need to realize that our model of not seeing, hearing, or trusting underrepresented founders is leaving tons of money with untapped disruption — the exact factor. that we all desire in innovation. There are amazing ideas, completely unmet user needs, and great stones that remain unfinished in jailbreaking solutions, simply because the same people are getting checks over and over. from time to time. There is an urgent need for curiosity about what is being abandoned.
Curiosity is about establishing a much more diverse network to draw one’s source to the “potential customers” most investors require. It’s about going into existing spaces like never before to usher in a powerful new generation of talent. It’s about continuing to bring in more diverse VC partners to drive even greater exponential impact, ensuring renewed nuanced thinking happens across the board. both the sides of the table. Finally, it’s time to let go of the other way around – from biased assumptions about underestimating women, excuses about feeling disconnected from a black person, to the reason that some other investors will take them over, so that’s okay. I invite eager curiosity to bet on diverse founders and realize that being different is precisely what drives unique solutions to problems, the way founders have lots of motivation to do it.
I also want to take action to support the enormous opportunity here, and I am committed to opening my arms wide to bring other founders with me on this journey. If you are a founder or investor who wants to help make this opportunity a reality, especially when it is sometimes difficult to know where to start, contact me. here, a new dedicated space at my company for this action plan and more. I want to empower others to rise with me by brokering referrals, providing mentorship, sharing encouragement, and forging a much smoother path for more people to advance in their industry. Let’s do this together – and change the world with our much-needed (and hopefully soon sought-after) unique and powerful contribution to innovation.
Jacquelle Amankonah Horton is the Founder and CEO of Fave, a new social platform for super fans that allows them to share fan content, engage with fellow fans intentions, gain recognition and rewards, and trade merchandise in the fan market.
https://www.billboard.com/pro/diverse-founders-vc-funding-guest-column-jacquelle-amankonah-horton-fave/ Fave Founder Calls for More Diversity in VC Funding in Music, Technology – Billboard