Array Ventures
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Array Ventures

Array VC allocates $1m For Underrepresented Enterprise Founders

Just like in almost every sector of the country, racial and gender inequality pervades the startup landscape. An overwhelming majority of startup founders in the states are white and a disappointingly small number of founders from minority groups receive venture-backed funding.

After a decade as an engineer, I still felt helpless when I embarked on my entrepreneurial ambitions. While I had the technical skills, I lacked network connections and advisors to give me feedback in addition to hard cash. I knew no one who would write me a small check to quick start the process — I was unknown and unproven. I was just a woman (and a good team) with ambition, but with no deep pocketed investor connections.

Getting access to pitch to the right investor, even before you form your company, can set you up for years of success. I saw the power of getting kickstarted when founders could just raise money by asking their friends to back them.

As I started my journey in Venture Capital, I noticed how many founders faced similar issues to me: All they needed was a nudge in the right direction to get their company off the ground. I once heard that even a 1 degree nudge to a sailboat can send it off in a completely different direction. That nudge often comes in the form of capital as a means of support. To this day, I see that kind of access and aid given to a very limited number and kinds of founders.

According to an article on Crunchbase from 2019, 77% of founders are white, of which a mere one percent of venture-backed founders are black. Only 9% of investments went to women-funded startups. Less than 2 percent of founders that received funding were Latino and less than 3 percent were Middle Eastern.

These racial discrepancies could be due to a variety of reasons, but it is likely that founders from underrepresented minorities are simply not granted the same amount of opportunities and experiences, specifically when it comes to funding.

That’s exactly why I started our fund, Array Ventures. I felt that not enough investors have funds focused on enterprise deep tech at the pre seed stages.

Now that I’ve been in the venture business for almost a decade, I can also confirm that there aren’t enough funds run by underrepresented minority fund managers investing in enterprise deeptech companies in areas such as AI/ML, cloud, data, security, infrastructure, etc. This signifies that smart people, who want to start companies in these areas, may not know who to talk to, to run things by with, and to raise funds from.

While multiple venture capital firms have initiatives to diversify their funding, the statistics demonstrate a need for a stronger effort.

We have already been doing our part in little ways on general diversity initiatives. We have backed 25% Women and 53% Immigrants so far.

Not enough is being done, so I am starting by setting an example: Array VC has decided to hold office hours for potential enterprise deeptech founders who identify as an underrepresented minority to give them feedback on their company, their pitch deck, and on how to fundraise. If you are specifically thinking of starting a B2B company with a data/deeptech/AI/ML focus, then this is a great opportunity for you. In the office hours, we will approach your ideas from all sides — idea, team, market, and go-to-market even before you write a single line of code or quit your jobs.

In addition, we are also allocating $1 million for underrepresented founders we find through these initiatives. To attend an office hour APPLY NOW.

Let’s work together to make the startup world a more equal and inclusive place for everyone.

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By Shruti Gandhi

By Shruti Gandhi

Enterprise DeepTech Engineer & Investor at Array Ventures (www.array.vc). AI/ML, Robotics, and BigData.

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