The blogpost that changed everything
My day usually consists of speaking with institutional investors about venture capital. I am a tech startup fanboy who genuinely gets excited by founders building and realizing their vision. Since I was a kid, technology always played a large part in my life. From my dad being a mainframe engineer to me co-founding a tech startup and becoming a venture capitalist in Southeast Asia.
Apart from being a VC, I became a co-founder of sorts again in 2020. The blog post I wrote “I am exhausted, and I want you to know why” had over 300,000 impressions across Medium and LinkedIn. It led me to become a co-director with Aaron Stewart and co-executive producer of a documentary called Broken Chains. The 17-month journey with the Broken Chains reminded me so much of running a startup. We bootstrapped the documentary with a limited budget, had to be innovative due to COVID-19 restrictions and working with remote crews, argued about the vision, fundraised, and executed a launch plan, all while managing our day jobs.
All the hard work hasn't been in vain. Jamaur Bronner and I attended our first film festival as filmmakers in New York. Ahead of the official premiere in early 2022, we have received numerous inbound requests from corporations wanting to showcase the documentary to their internal teams. We are a week away from our first private screening in Singapore and already received more requests for screenings in Europe and the US.
The logline for our documentary is An unflinching exposé on the racial wealth gap and the underlying systemic barriers to black success, BROKEN CHAINS holds a mirror up to society and asks the tough questions, namely: how can we fix a system that’s been broken for so many, for so long?
I have been fortunate in my career with support from family, mentors, and friends. Even with that support, I still needed to overcome hard-fought battles to build a career and provide a future for my family. When I wrote my blog post last year I asked people to listen. I wanted people to understand the urgency of equality and access for underrepresented groups. As more and more people are willing to listen, we feel it’s time for continued momentum. We’re asking every stakeholder to show up and step up. As eluded to in the documentary Broken Chains, we’re asking corporates to step up their diverse hiring strategy, successful founders, and investors to put more time and effort into mentorships for underrepresented groups. We’re asking VCs to spend more time diversifying their deal flow and institutional investors to step up their commitments to diverse managers.
Equal opportunity starts with access, and access starts with providing the necessary stepping stones for an equal playing field. We endeavor to help bridge the racial wealth gap through partnerships, funding, and education through content.
We also want to be part of fixing the system. Making the documentary was the first and important step for us to share why the racial wealth gap is such an important topic. We explain how entrepreneurship is the engine driving technological progress and economic empowerment, and we want to highlight why venture funding needs to be allocated more equally. A low single-digit percentage of venture funding going to underrepresented founders is not something we should allow to persist. We shouldn't allow groups that have limited access to be excluded from a system that allows them to generate wealth.
We owe this to ourselves, to our communities, and to our future generations.
We’re telling untold stories and delivering a message that needs to be shared. Our intention is to build the resources to power the change we want to see, through collaboration with stakeholders and amplification of mission-aligned organizations. In order to drive real change, we'll need partners, champions, and allies. To learn more about our next steps, and to discuss opportunities for collaboration, please reach out.
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In appreciation of the Broken Chains team and our partners:
Aaron Stewart (director and executive producer)
Jamaur Bronner (co executive producer)
Autumn Bailey Ford (executive producer)
Karim Raffa (consulting producer)
Courtney Karnes (Silicon Valley Bank)
Jeremy Rich (Silicon Valley Bank)
The entire cast of Broken Chains