The Plug In South LA Beat: A Black Founder Beats the Fundraising Odds

Joseph Heller, founder and CEO of the on-demand manufacturing platform The/Studio, experienced scores of rejections while speaking to venture capitalists for his company’s Series A. The Black tech entrepreneur recently described how he raised $11 million anyway.

“Instead of the usual startup route — creating a PowerPoint deck, getting a few meetings on Sand Hill Road, and raising a few million dollars — I had to prove that I was worthy of attracting VC money before I even got that opportunity to pitch,” Heller wrote in Fast Company.

His win rate with white VCs was 0%, and around 17% with non-white VCs.

Heller said he put years of his life, soul, and own capital into the company. That included taking more than 150 meetings over 18 months just to get a seat at the table. The hoop-jumping was “a soul-draining necessity,” he says. But it ultimately resulted in a successful strategic Series A round led by Ignition Partners in late 2018. Today The/Studio has offices in four countries and more than 100,000 customers.

In this Plug In South LA Beat, our ongoing curation of must-read innovation and tech news, we’re taking a closer look at Heller’s relentlessness, and the silver lining he uncovered:

I’m a Black Startup Founder. Here’s How I Raised $11 Million After 150 Rejections

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