Meet the 6 Emerging GPs selected for our $2.5M Diversity Commitment
Late July, we excitedly committed $2.5 million of independent GP (General Partner) capital to Black and Latino/Latina investing partners. We vowed to write three to five checks, around $500K to $1M each. However, we were so impressed that we ended up writing six!
We are thrilled to partner with these managers to create impact in the ecosystem while driving impact to our fund. Our chosen, diverse GPs can provide us access to underserved founder networks far better than we can ourselves today. In turn, we can help these select GPs beyond just providing them money. We can follow on to their investments; we can introduce them to LPs and other funding sources; and we can help them institutionalize their fund and processes. A truly synergistic relationship.
Our criteria for selection
The only ‘pipeline problem’ we experienced was figuring out how to best manage such a robust amount of compelling candidates. We had around 80 submissions, so we had to balance diligence with time and efficiency. So, as we tend to do at Alpaca, we formulated a process and framework.
It’s important to remember that we are not a traditional LP, so our considerations were unique. We valued the following three criteria:
- Synergy with our direct investing strategy
- Pre-seed and seed strategies, so we could co-invest or lead a deal already in their portfolio
- Sectors that aligned with the Sweet Spots of the three partners
- Smaller funds, which would allow more collaboration
- Differentiated networks, including geography
- Learning opportunities
2. Strong financial returns
- A compelling, differentiated strategy
- Investing experience, whether as a scout, angel, GP, etc.
- Strong networks that could be activated
- Fund experience, and an understanding of portfolio construction
- Is our investment meaningful to the underlying manager?
- Is the manager investing in under-represented founders, geographies, or sectors?
With this rubric, we screened the pitch decks of all 80 managers, ultimately taking 35 Zoom calls. From there, we culled down our list to a dozen candidates, scheduling second calls, often with a different GP on the Alpaca team. After further discussion, we ran founder, co-investor, and LP references where possible, and ultimately decided to invest in a portfolio of six managers. We wish we could have done more (maybe in the future!) but wanted to ensure quality of relationships over quantity.
It’s our pleasure to announce our selections, and shine a light on some already bright stars. We have been overwhelmed with their passion, work ethic, raw intelligence, and unique approaches to their craft. Without further ado…
Hometeam Ventures is an early stage fund focused on the $18T (by 2022) construction sector. They invest in pre-seed through Series A in companies that can address cost, speed, or quality throughout the AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) lifecycle.
GP: Alexandria Lafci
Current Residence: San Francisco, CA
Alexandria grew up hearing stories about her mother bouncing between foster care and group homes. Her mother and sister lived in Section 8 housing for most of her childhood. Then, while teaching in southeast DC as part of Teach for America, Alexandria saw the far-reaching implications of housing instability and homelessness on many of her sixth graders. These experiences fueled her life’s work and commitment to affordable housing access. Alexandria co-founded New Story (YC S15), a nonprofit focused on pioneering solutions to end global homelessness. In under 5 years, they’ve built thousands of homes throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and strive to be an R&D arm for the affordable housing sector. Alexandria started Hometeam Ventures because she believes that efficiency gains in the construction sector are a prerequisite to ending homelessness and housing insecurity.
Lightship Capital invests in under-represented entrepreneurs across the Midwest. They work with companies led by BIPOC, LBGTQ+, Women and people with disabilities who operate in the CPG, E-Commerce, Sustainability, Artificial Intelligence, and Healthtech.
GPs: Brian Brackeen and Candice Brackeen
Current Residence: Cincinnati, Ohio
“No one is saying raising venture capital is supposed to be easy,” Brian said. “But what it took for Candice and me [separately and in different cities] was just a tough, tough slog and it really shouldn’t have been. I pitched my company over 1,000 times to raise $13 million. I got 120 investors to say yes, but should it really have taken all 880 no pitches to get there — for a solid company that today has a valuation of $120 million?” The answer to that is no. This is one of the many reasons Brian and Candice, a husband and wife dynamic duo, launched Lightship Capital. They are the largest-ever venture capital fund dedicated to growing Midwest, minority-led startups. The Cincinnati-based firm is closely aligned with the Hillman and NewMe entrepreneurial accelerators (Candice founded Hillman and acquired NewMe in 2018), and is focused on supporting people of color, women, members of the LGBTQIAP community, immigrants, people with disabilities, and others in regions like the Midwest who have been overlooked and underfunded by traditional venture capital.
Harlem Capital (“HCP”) is a $40M early stage venture fund focused on US-based startups led by diverse and women founders. HCP typically invests $500k to $1M in $1.5M to $3M seed rounds. They are agnostic, investing in 11 cities and 10 Industries.
GPs: Henri Pierre-Jacques, Brandon Bryant, Jarrid Tingle
Current Residence: New York, NY
Harlem Capital started December 2015 in a Harlem living room as an angel syndicate of friends. The founding Partners (Henri, Jarrid and Brandon) met each other in 2011 during a program called ‘Management Leadership for Tomorrow’. After investing in a number of startups, the Managing Partners, Henri and Jarrid, started at Harvard Business School in the fall of 2017 as roommates. That’s where they decided to raise outside capital and launch Fund I. With its first fund close, Harlem Capital became one of the largest venture capital funds with a diversity mandate and has been on an upward trajectory ever since.
Slauson & Co. is a $50M pre-seed and seed stage fund where both investment areas are centered around economic inclusion of under resourced communities. The first is tools, technologies, and platforms that support small businesses, and the other is consumer products and technologies.
GP: Austin Clements and Ajay Relan
Current Residence: Los Angeles, CA
After graduating from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Austin started his career in investment management. He eventually left that role to build web and mobile apps for small businesses, which is where he developed his love for working with founders. After his MBA at NYU Stern, Austin landed a role at TenOneTen Ventures, where he learned the venture business from two successful serial entrepreneurs: David Waxman and Gil Elbaz. In addition to his work investing at the firm, he had the opportunity to lead an organization called PledgeLA, a city-wide initiative to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in Tech. More recently, he led the expansion of Grid110, one of LA’s top accelerator programs with a first cohort of 90% Black or Latinx founders and 70% women founders. His long time friend and now business partner, Ajay Relan, spent a lot of time at Hilltop, a coffee shop Ajay owns on Slauson Ave. When they recognized the amount of talented entrepreneurs and creatives they met there, it sparked the idea of creating a vehicle to invest in them called Slauson & Co.
Maple VC strives to invest in the most ambitious Canadian founders wherever they are in the world and partners with them on talent and growth. The vision is to build a distinctly diverse top-tier seed stage fund that invests in ambitious founders who aim to make a massive positive societal impact.
GP: Andre Charoo
Current Residence: San Francisco, CA
Andre grew up in Toronto and graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Toronto in 2004. He tried i-banking but quickly learned it wasn’t for him and gravitated more towards the entrepreneurs they represented. Over the next decade from 2009 to 2019, he would join 4 companies as one of their first 25 employees. Fortunately, two out of four companies were hits and one was a really big hit — Uber. He was hired at Uber in 2011 as its 25th employee and one of its first launchers (a role where you would drop into a city and get the business up and running). After an incredible journey being an early stage employee at 4 different companies (including Hired), he decided to start Maple VC in an effort to continue partnering with the best founders at the earliest stages and use his strength in hiring and recruiting for early stage companies.
6. Rarebreed Ventures
RareBreed Ventures is a pre-seed fund that is investing in exceptional founders outside of the large tech eco-systems earlier than everyone else. They invest $100k to $250k as the first investors in.
GP: Mac Conwell
Current Residence: Baltimore, Maryland
As a Baltimore native, Mac attended Morgan State University, a local HBCU to study computer science. He then dropped out of college a year later to start his career as a government contractor for companies including Northrop Grumman and Booz Allen Hamilton as a full stack developer. In October 2009, Mac co-founded his first tech startup, Given.to. The company would go through two accelerators, Accelerate Baltimore and NewMe Accelerator, and eventually sell to a division in a Fortune 100 company. Following this, Mac went on to work for the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), the investment arm of the state of Maryland, as a part of their seed investment team. In 2017, he led and launched the Minority Business pre-seed Fund, later named the Builder Fund, which was the first state-backed pre-seed fund for startups run by founders who consider themselves to be economically or socially disadvantaged in the world of VC. Now, he is starting the next stage in his journey by launching Rarebreed Ventures, a pre-seed venture fund based in Maryland.
A list of the Diverse GPs who applied
While we were only able to make six investments, and had specific and measured criteria to consider, there are so many incredible managers out there who deserve to have their voices amplified. To help bring awareness to these managers, we are publishing our list of Black and Latino/Latina GP led funds. This list only includes those whom we received their opt-in to publish as some funds are in stealth mode. While we couldn’t give every fund capital, we do hope to help in other ways, including dealflow exchange and LP introductions.
If you are not on here (or know someone who should be) and would like to be added, please shoot email@example.com your information. We only mention one partner per fund here, however, we encourage multiple Black and Latino/Latina partners to represent one fund. We’d love for this list to grow over time and act as a resource that highlights diverse managers in the venture capital and startup community. We know there are more under-represented manager lists out there. If you would like it highlighted over our channels, please email Erica and she will work to spread the word.
The next chapter
Our team hopes this initiative, alongside our overall commitment to diversity, will create progress over time.
Since inception (2013), 38% of our portfolio was founded by under-represented teams (defined as female, LGBTQ+, Black, Latino/Latina, or Indigenous) and 7% was founded by people of color (defined as Black, Latino/Latina, or Indigenous). As of our last fund, 48% of our companies were started by under-represented founders and 8% by people of color. Moving ahead, we would like 50% of our portfolio to be founded by under-represented founders and want at least 15% to be composed of Black or Latino/Latina founders. We’re hoping this GP diversity initiative provides more and more opportunity to invest in diverse, talented, and undiscovered founders.
If you would like to meet our diverse GPs and hear their thoughts on investing in diversity and creating an inclusive future in venture capital, sign up for our VC panel November 19th at 2PM ET. See you there!