Find Ventures Begins with a Concept
November 1, 2021
The story of Find Ventures starts with our Co-Founder, Elizabeth Scallon. On July 31, 2019, Elizabeth published an article on LinkedIn and this was the first time her idea of a community seed grant was made public. Although some components of the original idea have since changed, it’s important to know where it all began.
Below, is the beginning of the original concept paper.
Concept Paper — Northwest Community Seed Grant for Entrepreneurs
It’s a known roadblock: Access to first financing rounds is difficult for a brand-new founder and verges on impossible for those without connections.
Over the years incubators, accelerators and mentorship programs have been developed in an attempt to address this roadblock, but the roadblock remains. The notion that a founder could draw an idea on the back of a napkin and an excited investor would pull out a pen and write a small check on the spot doesn’t exist for the outsider founder without meaningful connections to high net worth individuals.
The current funding statistics for Women, POC and LGBTQ entrepreneurs:
- Only 2% of all VC funding went to women Entrepreneurs. That 2 percent translates to $2.88 billion of the $130 billion risk capital raised by private companies in 2018. (https://fortune.com/2019/01/28/funding-female-founders-2018/)
- Black entrepreneurs make up less than 1% of VC-backed tech startup founders (source: CB Insights)
- Unknown funding statistics for LGBTQ entrepreneurs. (research yet to be conducted by an accredited institution)
- Unknown funding statistics for blue collar/ absent a four-year degree (research yet to be conducted by an accredited institution)
Outsider founders are disproportionately raised blue collar, LGBTQ, women, POC, or individuals who didn’t attend a four-year university. Occupying one or more of these categories dramatically diminishes an outsider founder’s access to high net worth individuals. By their very nature, outsider founders bring a more creative lens, display a higher willingness to challenge the status quo and apply emerging technology as a tool to fight our most pressing issues, such as global warming, food scarcity, housing, economic mobility, transparency in government, to name a few.
When outsider founders develop concepts and strategies for industry disruption, but can’t showcase a track record of previous successful exits, they challenge us as a community to re-evaluate the archetype of what we assume a founder to be. They challenge us to ask: What successes do we most want to emerge from our startup ecosystems?
Risk-averse angels and VCs want to see prototypes, traction, customer adoption, business development, revenue before they will officially invest their funds into a seed or Series A round. I don’t question the investors’ needs, they come from very rational motivation. I do question the impact on our national ability to apply technology to the sectors most in need of problem-solving.
It’s the early, pre-seed funding that is the most acutely felt roadblock for outsider founders in their entrepreneurial journey. Traditionally reserved for bootstrapping (i.e. working a full-time white collar job while building a startup on the side), friends and family fundraising and overall entrepreneurs’ network. This approach creates barriers to entry for our outsider entrepreneurs, barriers which our startup ecosystem has yet to bust through.
We don’t have to lose bright minds and innovative technological solutions due to the gap in funding for pre-seed startups. As a community we can fill this gap, ensuring that we have the best minds focused on our greatest challenges. Allow them the opportunity to scale their startups. By providing resources like space, mentorship, and access to a global partnership as well as funding, we propose that these startups will be poised to secure venture funding, when needed, and succeed.
The full article was originally published on LinkedIn by Elizabeth Scallon: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/concept-paper-northwest-community-seed-grant-elizabeth-scallon/