Read about the Wisconsin Investment Fund – a public-private venture capital initiative.

Creating opportunity through investment and entrepreneurship

November 18, 2022
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Building multigenerational wealth in diverse communities will enrich the economy and eventually help underrepresented groups join the ranks of business founders and angel investors.

“The average white household has six times the equity of a Black household,” said Margie Bacheler, educational initiatives director for the Overland Park, Kansas-based Angel Capital Association.

Bacheler, who was among the speakers on angel investment diversity at the Wisconsin Technology Council’s Early Stage Symposium in Madison on Nov. 9-10, said multigenerational wealth typically comes from capital gains, either from real estate or equity investing.

“We have to figure out how to get more home ownership. How do we get to more equity? How do we get more founders and entrepreneurs to own more equity in their own companies?” she asked.

By establishing entrepreneurial ecosystems in communities nationally, officials are hoping to diversify angel networks and create more inclusive economies.

Kelli Jones is managing partner of Sixty8 Capital in Indianapolis, a seed-stage fund for diverse startups. Over the past five years, she has trained more than 40 Black and Latinx founders through her group, the Be Nimble Foundation.

“We need more founders. We need to give them more support. We need to get them connected to venture capital,” she said, noting that the fund has invested in 14 companies with diverse ownership based in the Midwest and the South and has subsequently given additional funding to six of them.

“The capital we’ve been able to deploy has now trickled down to other founders starting companies,” Jones said, noting that people who had never thought about starting a tech firm have now begun to approach her fund. “They now have a place to go. We can work with them to get them capital ready.”

Sixty8 Capital invests in what Jones calls “The Four Cs”: community, consumer, commerce and culture. “It’s about businesses that are solving problems for others,” she said. “We’ve put a big amount of investment into anything supporting the infrastructure of people of color.”

Bacheler’s group also offers a 20-hour curriculum through its Angel University to help demystify angel investing and break down barriers. Its Seed the Future Campaign also helps to create targeted programs for underrepresented communities to expand both investments and business support.

“You know, you don’t have to look like the guys on Shark Tank to be an angel investor. It’s a learned skill,” she said.

Cordero Barkley is a partner in Green Bay’s TitletownTech venture capital fund, which has partnerships with the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft and invests in high-growth, scalable ventures.

Recently, Barkley said TitletownTech invested in a Miami-based Black-owned company called StatusPro that aimed to create a National Football League virtual reality experience. Several other investors questioned the project, saying the company needed to be based in Los Angeles, something the founders saw as a microaggression.

“We looked at it and thought it was a no-brainer,” Barkley said. “They launched [the product] in September, and they had the No. 1-selling unit on Meta for the last 10 weeks. … I look at the opportunity that’s missed because of lack of representation.”

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