Fearless Fund — the first venture capital fund built by women of color for women of color — has teamed with Steve Madden for a program meant to provide more resources and education for women of color entrepreneurs.
Interested entrepreneurs were asked to compete a questionnaire in late 2020 in order to receive free enrollment to Fearless Fund’s “Get Venture Ready” program, which is designed to teach participants about corporate governance, product-market fit and pitching. The program selected 50 participants.
“We educate women of color entrepreneurs on venture capital and prepare them to be ready to pitch investors,” said Arian Simone, general partner and cofounder of Fearless Fund. Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam and former CPG executive Ayana Parsons are also general partners at Fearless Fund, which recently received a $1 million investment from Costco.
“When we first started the venture capital firm and we were raising, we noticed that there was a very big lack of education in the minority space for what venture even is. And we said, ‘You know what, as soon as we get this going, we need to make sure that we educate our community on what venture capital is and how to prepare for it,’” Simone said.
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Women of color receive less than 1 percent of venture capital funding, and Black women receive .0006 percent, Simone said. “Women of color are the most founded entrepreneur demographic but the least funded,” Simone said.
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“We got involved in this space, of course, to play a solution and resolution into the racial disparities. With that being said, it’s not just the lack of diverse investments, it’s a lack of diverse investors,” she said. “The industry is 80 percent white male, and in order for the diversity to take place on the investment side, we need more diversity on the investor side.”
Fearless Fund’s partnership with Steve Madden includes the Self Made x Fearless Fund Series, where Fearless Fund’s portfolio company founder stories will be highlighted across the Steve Madden social channels. Madden will also privately provide mentoring to those companies over Zoom, Simone said. Fearless Fund’s investments include Range Beauty, founded by Alicia Scott; Amp Beauty, founded by Angel Lenise, Montre Moore and Phyllicia Phillips; and HairBrella, founded by Tracey Pickett.
Additionally, for Women’s History Month, in March, the pair will launch the Walk in Her Shoes Campaign, where one woman of color entrepreneur will share her story and win a fully-stocked shoe closet.
For Simone, who started a retail business while she was in college, providing and education around fundraising for women of color is personal. “I remember what that process to raise capital was like, and I didn’t like it,” she said. “I promised myself…you don’t worry — one day, you are going to be the business investor you are looking for.”
Fearless Fund invests in women of color-led businesses seeking pre-seed, seed or Series A financing. The company initially invests between $250,000 to $500,000.
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