We envision a future in which low and moderate income (LMI) communities of color in the United States are engaging with the economy on their own terms. In this world:
- the tremendous value that resides in these communities is recognized
- capital is invested meaningfully to support them, accompanied by technological innovation
- the resulting services and platforms are built for and run by community members
- and communities have greater decision making powers, more ownership of their resources, and are richer in all the ways that matter to them
We’re a venture capital firm. Capital is one of the best tools we have to shape our communities and the world. To do that, we:
- make early stage investments in entrepreneurs who are building tech-enabled businesses focused on increasing agency
- connect community-focused entrepreneurs and traditional investors to showcase the tremendous, investible value that exists in these communities
- provide blueprints for others to follow by publishing concrete proof points of our work
Our values guide how we work on our mission. They shape how we make investments, how we work as a team, and how we engage with the world around us. We’ve divided them into two categories: a core set of commitments that are a long-term pursuit, and a list of “touchstones” that anchor us as we iterate and evolve every day.
A democratized economy requires a democratized process for building it.
Our role is to listen to, learn from, and collaborate with the entrepreneurs and partners who are deeply invested in serving communities. To jointly create an economy that benefits all of the people who live within it, we focus on inviting the voices that have historically been shut out. We must always work to cultivate ecosystems that span and connect community-based organizations, philanthropy, private capital, corporations, tech accelerators, trade groups, and academic institutions.
Lived experience is a transformative standard for addressing structural inequities.
We put a premium on entrepreneurs with lived experience within the communities, systems, and problems we want to address. We’ve learned that these founders have the experience, the urgency, and the skills to create, scale, and sustain market-level impact.
Our lived experience standard has resulted in over 90% of our founders being women and/or entrepreneurs of color.
We are a capital and cultural “bridge”.
We work primarily at bridge rounds, aiming for initial investments between a company’s Seed and Series A. Founders at this stage often find it difficult to find empathetic support to help stabilize their companies, translate their value to the wider market, and shape their trajectories for growth. Our choice to work in these periods of ‘translation’ is also a reflection of our personal and professional experiences and the decades we’ve collectively spent code-switching. We see our “in-betweenness” as a strength.
We are committed to technology that is designed and deployed with care.
Venture-backed tech companies often achieve their “hockey stick growth” at significant cost to individuals and communities, particularly those that are already marginalized. We want to achieve ethical, inclusive, and sustainable outcomes that do not externalize the costs of that growth. So we look for products and services that are built and scaled deliberately, with careful constraints, and a deep connection to a community’s current needs and hopes for the future.
We’re always learning.
Today, we see what many others miss because we know where to look, and because we’re interested in looking. We can’t rest on what this has already taught us. We have to continually challenge our preconceptions and adjust our focus. We have to bet on new people, technologies, and business models.
We value honesty and transparency — starting with ourselves.
We learn best when we share our successes and our mistakes. As investors, we are bound by certain privacy obligations to our partners and portfolio companies but optimizing for transparency and honesty only increases our accountability to the communities we serve. Sharing what we’re doing provides a blueprint for others, and helps bring more mission-aligned investments to our target communities. This includes how we speak about our work, how we publish public versions of our investment memos, and even how we update this document.
Cultivating diversity produces better outcomes.
We have arrived at this work from a wide range of professional and cultural backgrounds. That range of experiences and perspectives is an asset for us and we advocate that and more for the companies we invest in, and for the broader economy. The research has shown that diverse teams produce better outcomes: in venture capital investing, at public companies, and on teams in general.
Diversity requires continual work. We can’t rest on our personal experiences or keep to a static definition that centers our current team. We have a responsibility to represent our communities and expand to new ones.
We create space for others.
Finally, we consciously create spaces where entrepreneurs and community partners can bring their whole selves, and can speak straightforwardly about their ambitions for impact and revenue, as well as the challenges they face. We work daily to foster a culture centered around care, and we recognize that a crucial part of our success will be measured by the kind and quality of spaces we open for others.