Thanks to the Knight Foundation and Code Fever Miami I will be serving as VC in Residence in the city of Miami for the month of April. Whenever I share this with people who are not from Miami, I’m met with one of two responses. They either ask Why Miami? (the assumption is that Miami has no entrepreneurial ecosystem) or Are you going on vacation? Though I’m sure I’ll manage to have a little fun and make it to the beach during my time there, this is definitely not a holiday. Now that we’ve cleared up the vacation bit, let’s address why a venture capital investor agreed to spend a month outside of Silicon Valley and specifically why Miami.
My firm, Cross Culture Ventures was created to positively disrupt venture capital and unlock large market opportunities that most other venture firms aren’t yet paying attention to. To achieve this we adhere to three key tenets.
1- Racial, ethnic, and gender bias are detrimental to successful VC investing.
2- Venture capital will become more distributed.
3- Deep understanding of global culture and consumer behavior is the key to unlocking large new markets.
Silicon Valley is synonymous with innovation, but no longer is Silicon Valley the only destination where entrepreneurs can go to raise venture financing and build innovative companies. Los Angeles and New York are examples of cities that have demonstrated that they can house venture-backed billion dollar companies such as Snap and Etsy. There are problems to be solved beyond Silicon Valley that represent billion dollar opportunities and smart investors will look more and more to invest outside of the valley.
This leads us to Miami. Miami boasts a diverse, emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem. Over the past few years it has seen organizations such as 500 Startups, Endeavor, Knight Foundation, NewMe Accelerator, and others. launch programs to fund startups or further develop the Miami entrepreneurial ecosystem. Miami’s cultural and ethnic makeup also uniquely positions the city as a startup hub. It’s no longer a secret that Black and Latinx communities punch above their weight when it comes to cultural influence, buying power, and early adoption. These communities are outpacing white America in population growth and have unique unmet challenges that in many cases represent billion dollar opportunities similar to what Mayvenn has done for Black beauticians. The members of these communities have deep understanding of the challenges within their communities and are best positioned to build solutions to capture value and create new markets.
I view the VC in Residence program as a unique opportunity to learn about an emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem that is steeped in Latinx, Caribbean, and Black culture. By spending the month in Miami, not only will I learn about some of the challenges/ opportunities specific to those communities and build relationships with the investor community there, but also help sharp founders think through the businesses they are building.
Miami is going to be ‘lit’ this April so if you are in town be sure to join us!
A quick shout out and special thank you to the CEOs and ecosystem players that have agreed to support the VCIR program and the Miami entrepreneurs this April. We’re going to have some entertaining fireside chats and panels.
Angela Benton, CEO at NewMe Accelerator
Brian Brackeen, CEO @ Kairos
Brian Patterson, Partner @ Gunderson Dettmer
Chris Bennett, CEO @ One Preschool
Dave Cotter, CEO @ ReplyYes
Diishan Imira, CEO @ Mayvenn
Everette Taylor, VP Marketing @ Skurt
Rodney Williams, CEO at LISNR
Tiffany Bailey, CEO at OSCEdge
I also want to recognize my portfolio company, Skurt, for supporting this important effort by providing transportation.
About Cross Culture Ventures (www.crossculturevc.com)
Cross Culture Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm headquartered in Los Angeles, CA with a presence in Palo Alto, CA. Cross Culture Ventures seeks to invests in entrepreneurs creating next generation technology and consumer products. Through a strategic partnership with Atom Factory, Cross Culture Ventures works to discover, invest in and develop companies that fuel shifts in cultural trends and consumer behavior within an increasingly diverse global marketplace.
About Knight Foundation (http://www.knightfoundation.org
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. (Read our Statement of Strategy.)
About Code Fever
Code Fever believes that the future of America’s economy is rooted in entrepreneurialism and technology, and seeks to enable the Black community to engage as stakeholders, leaders, contributors, and shapers of that space. Code Fever is a community program committed to getting our communities up to code. The mission of Code Fever is to inspire more underserved minority students between the ages of 13 to 21 to code, build and create technology enterprises within their communities, close the gap in technology education, and become leaders in STEM fields by increasing the number of young startup founders. For more, visit codefevermiami.com.
About Blacktechweek & BlacktechWeekend (www.BlacktechWeek.com)
BlacktechWeekend and Blacktechweek are cultural celebrations that highlight cutting-edge technologies, venture funding opportunities, and entrepreneurial innovation. In order to dramatically shift the way Black communities engage and create value within the innovation sector, these events seek to draw resources, training, funding, and inclusive policies into the Black community to build an asset and talent filled network where innovation can thrive throughout the country. Blacktechweek is taking place in September, 2017.