Resilient Ventures raises $3.45M in funds for Black startups

Venture Capital firm Resilient Ventures reportedly closed on a $3.45 million fund from investors two years after its launch, according to Hypepotamus.

Despite the pandemic and the few challenges, the firm faced, it managed to navigate its way through obstacles to proceed with the funding. Resilient Ventures had an initial target of raising $10 million until the global pandemic struck. A total of 24 “mostly accredited individual” investors contributed to the fund, according to Keith Daniel, owner of Durham-based Madison Consulting Group.

Resilient Ventures was inspired by Durham’s Black wall street from the 1900s. It is a fund comprised of local angel investors. It was created to carry on the legacy of Black Wall Street in a bid to provide more access to funding for Black founders and startups across the country. The fund is specifically targeting African American-led startups from around the U.S.

Parrish Street in downtown Durham housed some of the renowned Black-owned businesses in the early 1900s. The street became a center of black wealth and political power until the construction of the Durham Freeway and urban renewal which flushed out all those businesses, bringing an end to the once vibrant Black business community.

Black representation in Venture Capital is below par due to certain challenges that Black founders and startups face – the major challenge being a low representation of Black investors in the industry. Other challenges include racial bias and low net worth. A TechCrunch study showed that 81 percent of VC firms do not have any Black investors. In 2017, Harvard released a study that showed that women account for less than 10 percent of venture capital and entrepreneurial labor statistics between 1990 and 2016, with 2% being Hispanic and less than 1% African Americans. A more recent Stanford study showed that the few successful Black venture capital firms experience more difficulties in the industry compared to their white counterparts.

Resilient’s mission is to be a voice for the African American community as well as provide adequate funding for Black founders and startups. Their mission is to “close the existing wealth gap by expanding access to capital, networks, and opportunity,” Hypepotamus reported.

The fund has pledged nearly $680,000 to the eight companies in its portfolio, with more than half from the Southeast. The beneficiary companies include North Carolina’s Gryppers, a sports tech startup; Beyu Group, a restaurant chain; CircleIn, an edtech startup; and LiveWell. The other companies include Atlanta’s Optimal Technology, a hardware-as-a-service startup; and MyAvana, a haircare company. The last two include Five to Nine, a Chicago-based tech startup, and a Detroit-based health tech startup that specializes in standardization of clinical blood function assays.

“We have a solid, growing entrepreneurial ecosystem and our networks along the Mid-Atlantic and southeast regions are creating greater access and opportunities for our founders,” the company said on its website. “Combined with our over four decades of business experience and trusted relationships in a myriad of fields from international missions, angel investing, innovations in higher education, full stack software development, human resources, philanthropy, racial equity training, to long distance cycling and division I intercollegiate athletics, we are excited to be in the growing movement of capital strategies and generational wealth building across the color line.”

Keith Daniel and Thomas Droege, president of Droege Computing Services and founders of Resilient said four of the companies are already at the $800,000 revenue point and higher.

Resilient is actively recruiting new companies, with nearly 50 companies on its list waiting to be reviewed. Droege said the goal is to invest in “10 to 15” companies in total.

“I feel pretty confident,” Daniel said. “We definitely have what appear to be some great opportunities for our investors, and for our firms. Our goal is [to pick] two or three and maybe a follow on.”

Hypepotamus also reported that Resilient Ventures is likely the only fund in the Durham-Raleigh area that focuses on Black founders. The co-founders of the fund believe there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done to improve access to funding for American Americans, although there has been steady improvement.

About Resilient Ventures

Resilient Ventures is a venture capital firm focused on closing the wealth gap by extending access to capital networks and opportunities to African American founders and startups. “We are a committed capital fund dedicated to disrupting systemic economic injustice by expanding access to capital, networks, and opportunity to companies,” the company said on its website. The company was founded by Keith Daniel and Tom Droege, both managing partners of the firm.

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