More than five years ago, on January 11, 2016, I launched Elevate Capital, the country’s first institution backed inclusive venture capital fund. The fund invested in women and minorities, including people of color, LGBTQ, and veterans, to provide access to early-stage capital for which they are historically overlooked.
The fund had a unique thesis because we combined money with mentoring (mentor capital). As angel investors, we had experience proving that the entrepreneurs would outperform when you combine mentoring with capital. And we did just that! We outperformed on cash returns and our thesis.
With 80% of our investments in the Pacific Northwest and 75% in Oregon, we showed that entrepreneurs would come to you when you have an intentional thesis—and there was a huge pipeline of women and minority entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs were just invisible to traditional venture capitalists (VCs) that would underestimate their ability to succeed and overestimate their ability to fail and overlook them. We welcomed them with open arms!
We found entrepreneurs in droves, made 29 investments, and deployed $10 million in funding in less than four years. Two of our investments exited, distributing nearly 40% of the capital back to our investors in three years, resulting in Elevate Capital ranking among the top-performing early-stage funds, not just in the Pacific Northwest but the entire country!
55% of our investments were in women entrepreneurs, 18% in African American, 10% in LatinX, 7% in LGBTQ, and 45% in People of Color, surpassing our expectations with 82% diverse founders. We also invested in diverse sectors. We blew past the promise I made in my Hello World! blog post on January 11, 2016, and we are super proud of it, and so are our investors.
Elevate Capital Launches $40 Million Fund II to Expand Mission of Inclusive Investing
So Hello Again, World—we are back with our next fund: Elevate Capital Fund II, a $40 million fund that is bigger, better, and stronger, with an expanded national team of five and an army of Venture and Executive Partners nationwide.
Our partners are rolling up their sleeves to pay it forward with their money as investors and their time as mentors to help these overlooked entrepreneurs create generational wealth for themselves and their communities and make a dent in that $4 trillion opportunity gap.
We achieved our first close milestone of $26 million achieved in less than six months of fundraising. I am so thankful to my team of Associates, General Partners, and Venture Partners, who have pounded the virtual pavement of Zoom calls through the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve this milestone.
We extend our gratitude to all of our investors, including our lead institutional investors, Meyer Memorial Trust and Oregon Growth Account (State of Oregon). We will remain open for some time to meet our $40 million goals.
Startup-Investor Matching Tool Leads to Underestimated Founders
Elevate Capital sends a huge shout out to the most amazing Lolita Taub, Co-Founder of The Startup-Investor Matching Tool. The investor tool brought Elevate Capital a steady stream of talented minority-led startups, including Time Study led by Kishau Rogers, a Black female tech founder. Time Study received the highest investment in our first cohort of six investments that we are proud to announce alongside our first close.
We are thankful to Lolita for her commitment to helping women and minority founders find the right investors. The Startup-Investor Matching Tool, created by Josh and Lolita Taub, “matches underestimated founders looking to raise capital with relevant investors based on the investors’ theses,” said Taub. “Since the initial launch in mid-2020, more than 500 investors and 1,500 startups from around the globe have signed up for the tool, and the matches have resulted in nearly 800 intro requests that have thus far led to 18 investments made totaling over $2.7 million.”
Elevate Capital Welcomes Six New Black Founders
Black founders or CXOs, including five led by Black women, led the six incoming Fund II portfolio investments, and all of these founders have raised over $1 million in funding. Less than 80 black female-founded companies have ever raised above $1 million in venture funding, so we are exceptionally proud to claim that five of those 80 are funded by Elevate Capital.
Obatala Sciences is a biotechnology company that offers research enabling products and brainpower to scientists in industry and academia to advance tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Dr. Trivia Frazier is the C0-Founder and CEO of Obatala Sciences, which is based in New Orleans.
Revry is a global streaming network launched in 2016 in Los Angeles that focuses on queer content and creators. Alia J. Daniels and LaShawn McGhee are co-founders and serve as COO and CPO, respectively.
LegUp connects families with available childcare. The Seattle-based company is on a mission to make childcare accessible for all. Jessica Eggert is Co-Founder and CEO of LegUp.
Time Study is a technology firm that powers enterprise time intelligence presenting a clear picture of how employees spend their time to derive insights that drive progress. Kishau Rogers is the Founder and CEO of the New York-based Time Study.
Goalsetter is a savings and financial literacy application that also provides FDIC and Mastercard-backed debit cards for teens and savings accounts for the whole family. Tanya Van Court is the Founder and CEO of Goalsetter, which is also in New York.
Forest Devices is a medical device startup that develops a novel stroke screening device designed to detect early signs of strokes. Carmelo Montalvo is the COO of Forest Devices, which is located in Pittsburgh.
Creating Generational Wealth
So, I reaffirm my promise that Elevate Capital will lead the effort in intentionally investing in women and underserved minority entrepreneurs. We will do this by not only providing them early-stage capital but also providing mentor capital through our army of successful entrepreneurs who have invested in the fund to help them create generational wealth.
Namaste and Sincerely,