Women and minority founders are at a disadvantage when it comes to funding their startups through traditional venture capital.
Despite the calls to action in the media, the public outcry about these statistics, and slow moving strategic government interventions, black founders and female founders (especially black female founders) struggle to secure the early stage cash needed to nurture their products into the market.
Two such founders, Marceau Michel, founder of Werkhorse, and Kathryn Brown, founder of ScoutSavvy, are taking matters into their own hands. Both have been struggling to raise early stage funds despite the market demand for their products. Cash is like oxygen in the first few years of your venture. Many female and black founders have the drive, vision, and market knowledge to build successful products, but don’t have the means to move from MVP to true product / market fit. All founders need cash during the critical customer validation phase.
The Portland-based founders are betting that although investors won’t take that chance, the public will. Last month, while celebrating their recent successes over coffee at the familiar haunt of startup movers and shakers, Caffe Umbria, Marceau and Kathryn decided to get real with each other. Their startups needed money to survive, and they were both on edge.
“I never feel sorry for myself, and I can’t stand negativity. Neither can Marceau. So, we vowed to raise our own money for our startups from our communities. The idea for Black Founders Matter and Fund Female Founders was born,” notes Brown. The two founders view this as their “AirBnB moment”. The hospitality company notoriously raised $30,000 in 2008 by selling Obama O's and Cap’n McCain’s politically themed cereal.
Instead of cereal, the duo is selling limited edition apparel with graphics donated by well-known designers. Their goal is not only to generate revenue for their own ventures, but to also raise awareness around the macroeconomic benefits of investing in female and black founders.
Marceau and Kathryn invite you to be a part of the solution by purchasing apparel and wearing to proudly to show your support, as well as sharing their story on social media.