With a pool of top talent, a market with plenty of opportunities, and affordable living and working spaces, it’s easy to see why North America is a great place to start a tech company.
However, with the vast number of funding resources available in North America, according to The Leaky Tech Pipeline, roughly 1% of Black Americans and underrepresented founders are backed by venture capital.
Last year, racial inequities in our society came to the forefront, and echoed across the globe. As a result, dozens of new funds, organizations, and resources have been created to push Black American entrepreneurship forward (including the Black American Founder Fellowship, by the Founder Institute.)
If you’re a Black American founder looking for an investment for your startup in North America, then check out this massive list of some of the most important funding sources, regardless of how far along your startup is.
The Founder Institute is currently enrolling in North America. Apply today to build a startup with North America's top entrepreneurs and investors!
Early Stage Funding in North America
Notable Seed Accelerators in North America
A "seed accelerator" is a cohort-based program that typically accepts teams (not solo-founders) with a product (functional prototype or live product) and some form of traction (for example, user, revenue, or team growth). If accepted to a seed-accelerator, a company typically receives a small investment ($15,000-$150,000) in exchange for equity (6-10%). The goal of a seed-accelerator is to help companies accelerate their product or user growth during the program (typically 3-6 months) in order to raise a proper Angel or Seed Round of funding at the "Demo Day" that concludes the program.
Notable Angel Investors in North America
Angel investors are people that typically invest their personal capital in early-stage startups or entrepreneurs, and generally provide only a small one-time investment to help the business grow. They generally provide more favorable terms compared to other types of investors, since they usually invest in the earliest stages of a business, and are more focused on helping startups build a product instead of generating a profit. Angel investors sometimes go by other names, including “informal investors”, “angel funders”, “private investors”, “seed investors”, and “business angels”. Many angel investors are also professional investors and run more advanced venture funds.
Prominent Black American Angels/Micro-VC seed stage investors:
Angel Investors with a focus on Black Americans and other minorities in startups
Notable Angel Investor Groups and Events in North America
Angel investor groups are networks, or syndicates, of angel investors who pool their resources together to invest more money than would typically be issued with a private angel investment. Most angel networks focus their efforts on sectors or verticals in which members have experience or knowledge, although they are usually open to investments in other areas. In general, investors in groups contribute funds to the group, and a professional syndicate management team chooses the investments. The resources below are both formal angel investor groups, and also events and networks that informally gather many angel investors.
Angel Investor Groups with programs specifically targeting Black Americans and other minorities in startups:
Growth Stage Funding
Notable Venture Capital Firms in North America
Venture Capital ("VC") firms provide startup or growth equity capital and/or loan capital to promising ventures for returns that are higher than market interest rates, and typically focus on later stage companies. VC firms only invest in companies that have long-term growth potential of at least 10X their investment, and that already have considerable traction (very fast revenue or user growth), a strong team, and a viable product or service. Because of these high standards, generally less than .1% of businesses are funded by venture capital.
There are also many different types of VC firms. The first (and lowest) funding level for VCs is typically called a "Seed Round", which is appropriate for smaller companies that have just recently generated traction and need capital to fuel the fire of growth. After that, rounds of subsequent funding are categorized by letter ("Series-A", "Series-B", "Series-C", and so on), with the investment amount (and maturity of the business receiving funding) getting larger as the letters progress down the alphabet. Some firms invest across many (or all) of these types of rounds, but most specifically focus on one or two of these stages
Prominent Black American Venture Capitalists: Series A and Beyond
Venture Capitalists: With a focus on Black Americans and other minorities in startups
Are you a Black American or underrepresented solo-founder, or is your company or idea too early for these funding options?
The Founder Institute is an idea-stage accelerator that works with solo-entrepreneurs, and teams, during the earliest stages of building a business. Through an intensive 3.5 month program, FI participants build their business through a proven structured process, and receive feedback and assistance from over 30+ successful entrepreneurs and investors in Washington DC. Upon completing the program, Graduates join a global network of entrepreneurs and receive ongoing help to get funding and build their business. FI Graduates have raised over $950M in funding, and are building some of the world's fastest growing companies.
Learn more about the Founder Institute at FI.co, join a free startup event in Washington DC, or apply to build a startup in Washington DC today.