The writer: Amy Lewin
Date first published: 17 March 2019
Last Thursday, a quite remarkable thing happened: almost all of the UK’s black VCs gathered for breakfast. And everyone fitted into a corner of a cafe in Soho, London.
As far as this group — first brought together on WhatsApp — are aware, there are fewer than 20 people working in decision-making roles at venture capital funds in the UK. Once people in non-decision making roles are also taken into account, the number currently identified reaches the mid-twenties. This does not include angel investors or those working in private equity.
In the UK as a whole, meanwhile, there are 1,703 people currently working at decision-making levels in VC, according to data company Beauhurst (which does not collect data on the ethnicity of VCs).
This would mean that fewer than 1% of decision-making VCs are black.
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The good news
Andy Davis, director of London accelerator Backstage Capital, has been the driving force behind bringing the few black people working in VC in the UK together.
He’s been running an informal community called 10×10 for around 120 black founders and investors since 2015 and says he knows of fewer than 20 black decision-making VCs.
“We wanted to get together and help in a collective way.”
In February, they spun out a new WhatsApp group — known as 10×10 VC — which is now 17-people strong, including a dozen decision-making VCs.
And then, over breakfast this week, they came up with a plan.
So what next?
From next month, 10×10 VC plans to run quarterly office hours for black founders who are currently raising money. Founders will spend 15 minutes with each VC participating.
10×10 VC will also run monthly pitch sessions for two to three founders at a time. Founders will give a half hour pitch, and receive half an hour of feedback from two or three VCs whose interests and expertise most closely match their businesses.