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.
The good news
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.
Davis reckons he spends around 20 hours per week advising members of the group on team structure, product, legals and investment. “On the fundraising front, there are a lot of misconceptions,” he says — which the VC members of 10×10 were keen to address.
“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.