In a recent interview with Yahoo! Finance, Squire co-founder and CEO Songe LaRon explains why diversity in the tech industry is much needed and how to go about achieving it. Part of the challenge is networking and relationships and part of the solution is VCs investing in Black and POC founders earlier. Below is an excerpt of Songe’s remarks from his conversation.
On the difficulties of trying to build Squire as a start-up and looking for funding:
“Many Black founders don’t have the network and the relationships when they’re first starting off, if they don’t have a degree from Stanford or MIT or something similar. And Y Combinator is really an institution that helps level the playing field. So we did YC summer ’16. We were very early. It was very difficult for us to raise money early on because many investors didn’t see the vision of how big our market could get. They didn’t understand how big a barbershop business really was. But YC believed in us. And having that stamp of approval from YC really helped us go on to raise future rounds. And the fact that YC is really so interested in investing in Black founders and moving the needle is exactly what we need. We need more VCs to invest earlier in Black founders because that’s really where a lot of the gap is, in seed, pre-seed, and series A.”
Investing as a venture capitalist (VC) is both extremely satisfying (when your company, the one you invested in, succeeds) and can also be a major headache (when it fails). Building trust and understanding a business model while seeing its potential growth is only part of a VC’s job, the other part is overcoming challenges. In 2020’s Harvard Business Review piece “A VC’s Guide to Investing in Black Founders,” written by James Norman, he explains four key challenges that a VC needs to overcome – different problems, different solutions; different surroundings, different resource; different culture, different communication; and the continuous threat of unconscious bias. He also shares two key reasons for investing in Black businesses which include a statistically higher opportunity for returns and equality in America. Finally he gives multiple resources to invest in Black Founders.
We’re constantly driving towards more diversity in the tech industry and every industry as a whole. If you want to learn more, check out BLCK VC, which specifically helps Black investors.