Fundraising is a daunting and disproportionately difficult task for many, but especially for BIPOC founders. As part of Startup Grind’s annual DEI Month, this event is designed to support founders of all backgrounds who are currently working to raise capital for their startup. Hear from a lineup of founders and VC’s who have experienced it from both sides of the table. They’ll share the do’s and don'ts of preparing your company for investment, refining your pitch, building a strong stakeholder base and the importance of community (Startup Grind!), and more.
And if you’re in a position to raise capital for your business, that is amazing! Take a moment to be proud to have made it this far, regardless of the fundraising outcome. We wish you luck and hope to help you on your journey.
Founder & CEO
Techstars New York City Accelerator
General Partner & Founder
Silicon Valley Bank
Head of New & Strategic Channels
Director, Global Community
Events & Social Media Coordinator
As a philanthropist and entrepreneur, Alana utilizes the power of business and sports to shift how women and girls experience opportunities.
Alana is the Founder of Transition Play, a talent firm that specializes in helping women athletes live a prolific life across their personal, professional, and public domains beyond the game. She is the Founder and President of the 318 Foundation, a nonprofit committed to improving college, career, and life outcomes for young women in underrepresented communities through the 318 V.I.S.I.O.N mentorship program. Alana is also leading a bid to acquire the rights to a WNBA franchise.
She served on the Board of Directors for Fifth Wall Acquisition Corp. I, where she advised company leaders as they navigated the completion of their IPO through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) transaction in 2021. She holds Board positions at SmartRent (NYSE: SMRT), Fifth Wall Acquisition Corp. III., and The Sports Academy Foundation. Alana is a Super Angel in the ACrew Capital x Concrete Rose Captial Super Angel program where she invests in promising early-stage tech companies to democratize access to wealth creation.
Best known for her storied athletic career, Alana won Championships at every level from high school to the WNBA and internationally. She was the first woman basketball player to have her jersey number retired at Duke University, a four-time WNBA All-Star, and an integral piece in leading the Los Angeles Sparks to a WNBA Championship in 2016. At the back end of her career, Alana won back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Awards in 2017 and 2018. She retired in January 2020 after 15 years and will be enshrined in the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame in December 2022 and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in July 2023.
During and after her time in the WNBA, Alana found success as a small business owner, start-up founder, mentor, and advocate for female athletes in corporate America. After her retirement in 2020, she served as a Senior Associate at Silicon Valley Bank.
Gary Stewart is the Managing Director of the Techstars New York City Accelerator powered by J.P. Morgan. Born in Jamaica, he grew up in the Bronx, where he attended the Bronx High School of Science before attending Yale College and Yale Law School. He is a VC-backed, exited serial entrepreneur; an early-stage investor that managed a $1.6 billion start-up portfolio; a professor who has taught entrepreneurship at Yale Law School and IE Business School in Madrid, and been invited to speak at Cambridge, Oxford, Stanford and INSEAD; and a former contributor to Forbes Magazine. As someone who has seen firsthand that talent is distributed evenly but opportunity is not, he is passionate about ensuring that underrepresented and overlooked founders get access to the social and financial capital that they need and deserve. As an investor, he is particularly interested in companies that aim to change the world with a specific focus on healthcare, health and beauty, edtech and financial inclusion.
Marie Rocha has over 20+ years of experience in business and technology as a software engineer and serial entrepreneur. Marie's first startup was a candidates matching platform for staffing agencies, which she built and sold at the age of 19. She later co-founded a sustainable e-commerce store in 2010, followed by IMAK software, a startup building software and platforms for small businesses and nonprofits. As a champion for women, she is one of HAYVN Hatch's founders, a quarterly women-centric pitch event to support women founders seeking funding, exposure, marketing, and growth. Marie recently co-founded, The 99 Problems Super PAC, in 2020 to engage GenZ and millennials to register to vote in elections. In addition, she serves on several boards including Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Academy, Shipsi, HAYVN, VestHer, UpliftNJ, Stamford Next, James Vick Foundation. She advises and mentors underrepresented founders on their startups in her spare time.
Former NFL linebacker with the Chicago Bears, founder, VC at Next Play Capital, investor, Vandy grad, Kellogg grad, Nashville native now back after 14 years in Chicago
Recognised by Forbes as one of the 25 Black business people to watch and Financial Times as one of 100 BAME leaders in tech
Charmaine is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Before entering the world of Venture Capital as one of the only Women of colour in VC in the UK to be a managing partner.
By the time Good Soil was founded Charmaine had already built 2 incredibly popular diversity brands before many people were even thinking about braving the “impact /diversity” conversation. She credited her thick skin and solution-focused attitude to her tough upbringing.
Whilst her businesses have grown her passion for industry disruption remains the same. Only this time Charmaine’s mission is more deep-rooted in the world of tech startups. Now a Founding Partner at Good Soil VC.
As well as being a host on one of the hottest online talk shows “Not for the radio” which amasses an average of 100,000 views per 60-minute episode. Charmaine “Chams” has also managed to put her presenting skills to use in bringing talent to VC via her radio show “Money Talks: with Chams on Rinse Fm 106.8fm, which gets an average of 300,000 listens. She describes the show as “Dragons den with seasoning".
Folake Shasanya is the Head of New and Strategic Channels, EMEA at SVB. A newly established global business area at SVB, NSC is mandated to increase our clients’ probability of success in the innovation economy by improving access to information, network and capital for overlooked and underestimated founders.
Folake joined SVB in July 2019 as Head of EMEA Warehouse Financing and established a new high growth business are for the Fintech practice, providing scaleable debt solutions in the form of structured warehouse financing.
Folake is deeply passionate about entrepreneurship propelling startups led by under-represented minorities across the global diaspora.
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