This public spreadsheet lists Black founders who have raised VC, and the investors backing them – ProWellTech
Finding out how many black founders have successfully raised venture capital and which venture capital firms have invested in their startups has not been a historical task, historically. Venture capital data can often be calculated by phase, for example or by type of startup. But if I wanted to know how many black founders a particular company has invested in, it’s difficult to get that information.
Until now, that is.
Earlier this year, a group called People of Color in Tech compiled what he called “the most comprehensive list of America-based black founders ever.” You can check the data here. It is an extraordinary document, both for its usefulness and for its brevity. This morning the list is only 283 long, although it seems to expand over time.
The same group recently collected more data. Now, the same public spreadsheet includes details on which venture capital firms have invested in startups founded by Black. (The list of founders came during the month of Black History, while the list of VCs was put together around Juneteenth, People of Color in Tech wrote; for more information on how technology recently discovered Juneteenth, go here).
There are more VC companies that have invested in black founders than there are black founders who raised funds from VCs. This makes sense, as there is often more than one consulting firm in each round. But while the number of detailed VCs is encouraging at first glance, there is a nuance in the data.
ProWellTech spoke to James Norman, CEO of Pilot.ly, a partner of the Transparent Collective and a collaborator of the dataset, who told ProWellTech that he was initially “overwhelmed by the large number of investments made by 570 different companies”, but that “After a look, about 75% of the names had a black founding investment.”
Even more, Norman told ProWellTech that after reviewing the data “he realized that most of the companies on this list are likely to be follow-ups that accumulate in individual rounds of funding.” That most VC companies on the list of groups that put capital into a single startup founded by Blacks “highlights the lack of capital distributed to startups by Black Foundations in general,” he continued.
However, having the founder and VC data filled in is useful on its own. According to Norman, the dataset will allow other organizations to ingest and analyze the data, hoping that it will yield useful knowledge previously occluded.
Sefanit Tades, another contributor to Black’s founder and VC lists, told ProWellTech that the response to the databases was “overwhelmingly positive, with a number of people looking for support to expand the list and provide additional data points.” . He also said that “user feedback is also driving our iterations of The Black Founder List database”, so there should be more to this effort. It is exciting and welcome.
Silicon Valley likes to say things like “measure what matters”. Well, here is a list of black founders and VCs who have cut one, two or more controls in their startups. It is important that both lists get longer and we can now measure progress.