If you haven’t met us yet, the Republic Venture Partners are a badass community of investors, entrepreneurs, builders, plate-spinners, leaders, and advocates for a more equitable world led by diverse people. We have all entered the startup ecosystem through our desire to align passion and purpose. We do this by investing in founders we believe in, and sharing resources to get more dollars in more pockets. We are truly doers and allies on the mission for systemic change.
We know that this work is not without its significant challenges. In particular, funding for diverse founders shrank to 2.6% in 2020. Luckily for us, Republic started with diversity as a core principle of this program. Starting with diverse partners with various backgrounds, life experiences, and professional expertise lended itself to an extremely diverse group of people working on multiple initiatives. We don’t do this work for charity or superficial recognition. We don’t do it for the soft accolades and tweetable sound bites. We do it because we want to support founders that look like us. Founders that we can see a little of ourselves in. Founders that have the wherewithal to lead us into a better tomorrow.
To build a more inclusive, dynamic, collaborative, and equal economic future in entrepreneurship and venture capital, these 27 Venture Partners are working on a wide range of initiatives: from getting more investment dollars into the hands of founders to education and training for emerging managers to access to more c-suite opportunities for experienced underrepresented minorities. Learn about these 27 leaders, their approach, and ways you can be part of the solution below.
Funding for founders
Allyson Plosko | Atlanta, GA | Allyson invests in early-stage mental wellness startups focused on young people, while also working with philanthropy entities to urge them to think more creatively and strategically about how they deploy their endowments. At her firm, she is building a pipeline of diverse first-time founders, especially those outside of the typical hubs and/or from underrepresented backgrounds. Contact Allyson to learn more.
Brandon Hoffman | Los Angeles, CA | Brandon is the Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships & Investments for Samsung Next Ventures. Along with Antonio Key, he is working to put capital in the hands of diverse founders around the world, increase access to VC opportunities, and demonstrate how this makes sense strategically as companies serve the future consumer — who is more diverse than ever. Contact Samsung Next Venture’s “Diverse Founders Initiative” if you are a fellow GP who wants to work together, if you are looking to break into VC through an internship, or if you are a founder that is a good strategic fit for Samsung (Seed-Series B).
Chante Harris | Brooklyn, NY | Chante is a champion of scaling innovative technologies, campaigns and programs for everyone from the Obama Administration to Fortune 500 companies, and startups; she recently launched Venture For ClimateTech, a venture studio and accelerator sourcing and funding the best climate tech solutions across the globe. They are offering between $25-$125k of non-dilutive funding to early-stage founders of all backgrounds to help de-risk their opportunity, as well as the tools, training, and talent to build and launch a company around their impactful climate tech solution. Contact Chante to learn more.
Desiree Vargas Wrigley | Chicago, IL | Desiree is the executive director of TechRise and vice president of P33, where she leads their DEI Initiative to support Chicago’s Black and Latinx founders from idea to exit. They have a weekly pitch competition with local and national VCs in an effort to improve VC pattern recognition around the problems solved by diverse founders. Contact Desiree if you are a founder who would like to join as a mentor, an investor who would like to join as a judge, or a corporate partner who would like to join as a sponsor.
Lynn-Ann Gries | Cleveland OH | Lynn-Ann is the founder of Gries Consulting where she manages a local angel network for high net worth women to invest in female founded startups. Contact Lynn-Ann to learn more and get involved.
Henry Woram | Dallas, TX | Henry is a venture capitalist that invests in early stage software startups. As an associate at Palm Drive Ventures, he has committed to investing $2M in female founders (about 4% of their fund). They also back a number of first-generation immigrants as founders, look for deals beyond the traditional Silicon Valley landscape, and recently backed Catalyte, a tech-enabled software development agency that has hired 50% diverse candidates.
William Stringer | Santa Monica, CA | William is the founder of Chisos Capital. Their open application and Convertible ISA investment terms allows them to invest in side-hustle and pre-traction entrepreneurs that might not have access to other capital options. Contact Will if you are an early stage founder, mentor, or ecosystem partner.
Exposure and resources for founders
Adam Hardej | New York, NY | Adam is the co-founder and CEO of Open Scout. They are launching a pitch competition for underrepresented founders in collaboration with VC OpenDoor that’s all about helping founders gain exposure. Help Adam share this opportunity on social media and amplify the participating founders!
Eric Brook | Oakland, CA | Eric leads social equity initiatives with Joyce Cenali as an analyst for Big Rock Partners, a firm dedicated to providing regular pro bono advisory services to BIPOC founders and those most affected by the war on drugs, which we know to be a war on people. They also make every effort to support existing social equity organizations in cannabis. Contact Eric to connect, collaborate, and learn about their pro bono advisory services.
Holly Beilin | Atlanta, GA | Holly is a mentor at Techstars Social Impact and volunteer for Goodie Nation focused on meeting and supporting as many underrepresented founders, particularly women, as possible. Holly encourages you to reach out to Barry Givens, the leader of Techstars Atlanta, and Joey Womack, the leader of Goodie Nation, to get involved with these amazing programs.
Jessica Karr | San Francisco, CA | Jessica is an angel investor and founder of Jessica Karr, LLC. She consults and advises emerging brands, especially those led by women and/or people of color, to help them get investor-ready; helps build financial models and product/launch strategies, and introduces them to investors. Contact Jessica if you’d like to share dealflow or provide strategic advice to the clients she supports.
Marcia Chong Rosado | Boston, MA | Marcia is the Future of Finance Practice Lead for Village Capital. She leads accelerator programs and initiatives to support diverse founders addressing economic opportunity and financial health in the U.S. Some of the initiatives include Finance Forward US focused on startups addressing financial health challenges of everyday people and Criminal and Civil Justice Tech focused on centering justice-involved people and families. Contact Marcia if you are interested in working together to support more founders or if you are a founder interested in Village Capital’s programs.
Melissa Hui | San Francisco, CA | Melissa is the managing director at Context Leap where she works with executive clients (startups, PE firms, corporations) addressing transformational leadership, organizational, and cultural challenges. She is specifically driving an initiative to improve access to education essentials for underrepresented, non-traditional operator-investors that are transitioning or early in their career. Contact Melissa to learn more.
Opportunities for rising investors
Enyi Okebugwu | Oakland, CA | Enyi is an impact investor for Imaginable Futures, led by Desy Osunsade. He is responsible for actively sourcing and hiring diverse individuals for open investment roles. He is also engaging accelerators in the US and Brazil that support underestimated entrepreneurs. Contact Enyi if you have any referrals to aspiring Black and Brown education investors.
Hunter Kettering | Boise, ID | Hunter is a venture capitalist at Red Cedar Ventures, a mission-oriented firm devoted to building Michigan’s innovation economy. He is working to increase the geographical, educational, and first-generation diversity of the VC ecosystem through his work at Red Cedar Ventures and Venture For America. Contact Hunter if you are a first-generation student or grad.
Melissa Barash | Asheville, NC | Melissa is the founding partner of Left Tackle Capital. They launched the Future Funders Institute in March 2020, a year-long program designed to provide rising fund managers with the foundational skills they need to be successful investors, leaders, and contributors to the communities where they invest. Contact Melissa if you are a woman and/or person of color on your first, second, or third venture fund; a bold allocator or donor who invests in funds with a passion for financial inclusion; a collaborative partner who would like to brainstorm ways to work with the team.
Peter Harris | Salt Lake City, UT | Peter is a partner at University Growth Fund. They are opening an office in Atlanta to give more students of color access to their internship program, which gives students deep hands-on experience making investments in high quality venture deals. Contact Peter if you are an Atlanta-based leader at a school, LP, VC, or ecosystem partner.
Increase in compensation and opportunities to board positions
Candice Cook Simmons, Esq. | Brooklyn, NY | Candice works at The Cook Law Group, PLLC in collaboration with Wrd Ventures. Candice told us “the VC ecosystem is not only about where the allocation of capital is coming from; it is also about who we are positioning on the Board of Directors to address systemic growth in the businesses they support. They are working to seat more women of color in board seats.” Contact Candice Cook Simmons if you are interested in addressing a dearth in representation within the leadership at your portfolio companies.
Madeline Keulen | Boston, MA | Madeline is a mission-driven investor. As a board member and mentor through Synergist network, she is aiming to help get more women into finance and support them once there. Contact Madeline to learn more.
Shaun Randolph | Los Angeles, CA | Shaun is an Executive Fellow with FUSE Corp addressing intergenerational wealth building strategies for minorities in New Orleans. His initiative focuses on employee ownership of small to medium sized businesses (i.e. Coops, ESOPs), with alternatives to VC like public-private partnerships and bringing underserved groups to the table through advisory board and similar roles which allow them to participate in deals significantly while leveraging “OPM” (Other People’s Money). Contact Shaun to learn more.
Building diverse communities of investors, founders, and industry partners
Ana Paula González | Miami, FL | Anna is the head of managed funds at 500 Startups and is hosting their hallmark Unity & Inclusion Summit on April 7–8th. This summit has been at the center of empowering, uplifting, and creating better opportunities for diverse founders and investors in VC since 2016. In 2021, they are focusing on how to create diverse startup ecosystems, talking to founders, investors, governments, corporations, and other stakeholders. Contact Natalie about this event and other diversity initiatives.
Aneri Pradhan | Oakland, CA | Aneri is the senior partnerships manager for Elemental Excelerator and has been tracking diversity metrics over the past three years. She focuses on speaking with diverse pipeline partners, and makes sure to hold community evaluation panels in frontline communities they work with during due diligence. 76% of the team is women and 61% are POC. Contact Sara Chandler, Managing Director of Equity & Access to learn more.
Claire Veuthey | San Francisco, CA | Claire founded Rizoma Ventures, an environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) and impact investing advisory firm, where she works with both investors and companies interested in better communicating, measuring, and managing their impact. She is co-authoring a DEI playbook for early-stage startup employees, helping them understand why DEI is important and how to make the case to leadership (Chapter 1), organize events (Chapter 2), start initiatives, collect metrics (Chapters 3 & 4: coming soon!), and institutionalize DEI efforts across the business footprint. Contact Claire to share your success and failure stories, lessons and advice — and spread the word so those who need it can access this resource!
Kathryn Cartini | Saratoga Springs, NY | Kathryn is a co-founder and partner at Chloe Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in women-led technology companies around the world. #InvestInWomen is their movement-driven initiative with over 20,000 people involved. They are raising a $25M impact fund and invest with a gender and diversity lens. Chloe Capital partners with universities, foundations and corporations to host programs that help female founders catalyze capital. Learn about and join their movement here.
Raul Rosas | Chicago, IL | Raul is the incoming director for the Latinx Incubator (a partnership between the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and 1971 Chicago). He aims to build a pipeline of diverse founders leading technology-enabled startups while also springboarding first-time founders into the technology ecosystem. Contact Raul to learn more.
Suma Reddy | New Vernon, NJ | Suma is a mission driven serial entrepreneur and burgeoning ecosystem builder, who is CEO of an agricultural robotics company, teaches a class called “Future of Food: Entrepreneurship as Activism”, and is working on a collective-based venture studio concept for founders. She is building an Entrepreneurship as Activism (EAA) community. Contact Suma to learn more.
Tobias Bauer | Cambodia | Tobias is the head of partnerships for the Blockchain Founders Fund (BFF) and on the investment team of SOSV. He also teaches entrepreneurship related topics to university students, supports startup initiatives such as Techo Startup Center as an EIR and has invested in many emerging markets with impactful solutions; check out the newest member of the BFF Venture Builder Program: Chekkit, a startup based in Nigeria and founded in 2018 with the sole aim of protecting manufacturers and those buying their products. Their solution offers product verification, anti-counterfeiting and provides manufacturers with a way to engage consumers directly.
We hope you will take the time to engage with Republic Venture Partners about these programs. We believe in the power of collaboration, and we can’t do this work without you.
Republic Venture Partners diversifying Venture Capital