VCs are in the business to make money — that is their responsibility to their investors and principles. The startups that they founded are in the business of disrupting the world and drive the changes in our society. The digital divide is an issue for everyone involved, but it is not just a VC problem. The issue with minority entrepreneurs is the lack of a startup ecosystem that can address early capital requirements, coaching and traction strategies. The issue with VCs is the lack of visibility into minority opportunities in their deal pipeline.
We can bridge those gaps, but first, let’s understand the issues.
VC’s bet on who they know and their previous history — There are greater exist and success created by non-minority entrepreneurs and VC like to bet on previous success — that is a challenge for a community that has been on the outside looking in, and how to overcome that challenges is a perception that VC must address. The only way to address it is helping current minority startups become successful, as a community, we should be focusing on those that are leading the changes and helping them all we can, so they can pay it forward.
Dictating inclusion numbers
VC’s should not be put into a position to dictate to their portfolio companies who and how they should hire, each company is independent, that are accountable to their customers, employee’s and shareholders. It should be their responsibility and decision to do what is best for them, as such they should have access to a wide array of talent — people hire who they know, most of the hires during a startup process is based on the network that the entrepreneur knows — so this naturally restricts the pool to other candidates if they have no relationship to the entrepreneur.
The community has to embrace the startup environment — be prepared to embrace those that fail and learn, and help them get up and do it again. The problem is that is not how the minority community is wired, we are expected to get a stable job, make a career out of it and provide for the family at the lowest possible risk. The culture must change, and such change must start at home, school and in the community — we should learn from the failures and successes, share with everyone and show them how to do it.
It is all about education and access — As a community, the work should be around trying to get closer to the schools that have success in developing that talent, and develop a path for the individuals to enter into an ecosystem that will support and nurture their efforts, and not as a non-inclusive environment, but as one that opens up and then intermingles with current accelerators and VCs to establish bridges between the communities.
We must provide programs where startups are able to leverage the expertise that is housed within member of the community, making it easier for them to get access to mentor, contacts and enter into an ecosystem that is there to help them overcome the challenges that any startup has, but as minority yo do not understand nor know how to deal with it.
We must address the issue of early risk capital, and access for members of the community. The lack of access to early capital is one of the many impediments that entrepreneurs face, usually this is capital provided by friends and family members, in my opinion, this role must be complemented by the government and other organizations to foster the creation and development of new companies.
Incubators and Accelerators
Lastly, we as a community should be focused on developing and supporting minority Incubators and Accelerators — Minority communities should be in the forefront of developing and creating an ecosystem that incubates talent, creates a path to grow the talent and integrates it into the VC pipeline for scalability and growth.
If we do not take control and lead the change, blaming others for the lack of opportunity will not shirk the digital divide, on the contrary, it will create an environment of resentment and failure with it impact to be felt for many years to come, and we will have missed an opportunity to change the world, and make it colorblind by helping startups disrupt the current order by focusing on delivering an economic impact that leverages not only our buying power but our knowledge and aspirations.