Serena Williams has experienced what it’s like to be underestimated and underpaid throughout her career as a professional tennis player. Now, as a VC investing in early-stage startups, she’s confronting similar shortsightedness in Silicon Valley.
“The Black female founder begins her fundraising journey already down a match point,” Williams wrote in a recent op-ed for CNN Business. “Investors expect to see more traction from Black founders than their White counterparts, and will often question their technical expertise and market understanding.”
This challenge is compounded by “the network effect.” Williams observed that Black women rarely have a wealthy network of family and friends to turn to for early investment — the average Black household has a net worth that’s around 10 times less than that of their White counterparts.
Her Serena Ventures fund takes an inclusive approach, giving burgeoning entrepreneurs with innovative visions the opportunity to be heard and take their ideas to the next level. The fund’s portfolio of more than 50 companies includes the maternal and infant health tech startup Mahmee, founded by Urban Tech Connect 2020 speaker Melissa Hanna.
In today’s curation of must-read innovation and tech news, the Plug In South LA Beat, we’ve got front-row seats for Williams’ quest to build an inclusive VC landscape:
Photo: Serena Williams speaks at TED 2017. Credit: Ryan Lash / TED, Flickr Creative Commons