Collab Capital, an early-stage investment fund focused on start-ups led by Black founders, announced the close of their inaugural $50 million fund.
Since its inception in 2020, the firm has supported Black founders in the Atlanta area and plans on investing in 50 Black-led startups over the next three to five years.
Founders Jewel Burks Solomon, Justin Dawkins and Barry Givens have each experienced how bias roadblocks Black innovation and entrepreneurship. Through their hard work and resilience the entrepreneurs have created one of largest funds for Black-focused investing firms after starting with $2 million in funding.
“We really wanted to build a fund that was appropriate for the opportunity that we see [in Black founders],” explained Burks to TechCrunch. “And honestly I would say, it’s a small fund out there relative to the number of Black-led companies out there that are looking and seeking funding.”
The entrepreneurship trio created Collab Capital to help the Black community create wealth and increase business ownership. The firm is committed to empowering the Black community and have invested in companies in healthcare, education technology, and the future of workspaces.
Collab Capital will be providing startups with checks between $500,000 and $750,000, in addition to reserving up to $2 million per investment for follow-up investments. Backers of the fund include Apple, Goldman Sachs, Google, Mailchimp, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and PayPal.
Collab Capital currently invests in startups Atlanta-based Hairbrella, Music Tech Works, Jax Rideshare and DC-based Please Assist Me.
“We were very adamant that the most important thing we wanted to solve was the funding gap for Black founders, so we were not willing to broaden the spectrum there because we saw that there were so many firms out there for diverse founders, and even in some of those, Black founders were still marginalized,” said Burks to TechCrunch.
The company will continue to focus on supporting start-up cities with traditionally less capital like Baltimore, New Orleans, and Detroit.
“We’re excited to be able to support founders anywhere in the United States, but we’re really focused on cities that have a high concentration of Black innovators and a lower concentration of capital,” says Burks to TechCrunch.
When the world became virtual during the Covid-19 pandemic, Collab Capital was able to start investing in companies outside of Atlanta in Kansas City, Washington D.C., and Miami.
“If you’d asked me a year ago [if] I think we’d be successful in raising $50 million over Zoom meetings, I would have said absolutely not,” said Burks to TechCrunch. “But you can build meaningful relationships with people and not even have to be in person. That’s a big surprise — and, oh, the realization that you don’t have to travel so much.”