SAN FRANCISCO - We often mark Black History Month by recognizing barrier breakers of the past, but even today, barriers are still being broken.
"I was seeing interesting companies, but didn’t really see any Black entrepreneurs who were venture-backed," said Monique Woodard, founder of San Francisco-based Cake Ventures.
Woodard is among a still small, but growing list of Black women, venture capitalists.
"I think I’ve been able to identify really talented people who don’t look like what Silicon Valley thinks of when they think of a start-up founder," she said.
Among the notable companies that Woodard has helped get off the ground in the past; are internet media company Blavity, which was created by and for Black millennials, and beauty supply company, Mented Cosmetics, which was founded by K.J. Miller.
Woodard founded those companies while working at other venture capital firms, but has now branched out on her own to launch Cake Venture, in which she raises capital on her own that she will use to invest in the startups that she sees hold potential.
"I think my abilities to recognize talent, people who are widely intelligent, are amazing builders, but don’t necessarily look like what you might think of when you think of an archetype of a startup founder," Woodard told KTVU.
To understand why her position is so unique; one need only look at the numbers.
A survey by NVCA-Deloitte found that in 2020, eight out of ten VC investment partners were white
While Techcrunch reported that in 2018, Black women founders only received .27% of all U.S. VC funding in that same year.
"There are a lot of other Black investors and lots of Black entrepreneurs, who are doing amazing work and you, know, really trying to put their stamp on the future of technology at the future of business, said Woodard.
Overall, research shows Black founders are still having a tough time landing capital to fund their businesses, which is why Woodard’s launch of Cake Ventures is significant.
"I think finding these entrepreneurs and funding them early and highlighting them and highlighting their successes is how we really start to show people that look, there are wonderful businesses to be invested in this category and in this space and wonderful founders who are doing things that are unique and we should be investing in them."
Woodard says she hopes that eventually there will be so many Black women in venture capital that there’ll no longer be a need to even keep count.