As the COVID-19 era drags on, first-time founders need to find new ways to raise capital needed to keep startups offensive (and defense). Luckily, a trio of investors from top venture capital firms are joining us at TC Sessions: Justice on March 3 to make sense of different paths to funding.
The panel will include Sydney Thomas, a principal at Precursor, Brian Brackeen, a general partner at Lightship Capital, and Dr. Astrid J. Scholz, the founder and managing partner of Sphaera and the founding director of Zebras Unite.
We’ll ask about how these decision-makers advise founders to navigate the fundraising process, but with a twist. In this session, we’ll focus on the different, non-traditional paths one can take to getting their first checks. After all, not everyone has wealthy family and friends to milk $2 million out of on demand.
Brackeen’s Lightship Capital is a Cincinnati-based VC firm that manages a $50 million fund dedicated to backing underrepresented founders. Brackeen himself has worked a lot in the artificial intelligence space, with a focus on face recognition technologies. His work exposed early dangers of algorithmic ethnic bias and racial bias in data sets.
Meanwhile, Dr. Astrid J. Scholz similarly wears many hats. She is the founder and managing partner of Sphaera, a system design and technology firm dedicated to co-creating infrastructure that helps data and capital solve big problems. Astrid is also the founding director and treasurer of the XXcelerate Fund, an Oregon-based revolving loan fund and mentorship program created for and by women entrepreneurs. Finally, Astrid is the founding director and treasurer of Zebras Unite, a community of investors and founders that are committed to creating an ethical, inclusive and sustainable approach to creating a business. The capital arm of Zebras Unite uses non-traditional funding mechanisms to help companies secure financing.
Finally, Thomas is a check writer at Precursor Ventures, a firm dedicated to backing pre-seed companies that are working on products for the masses. Thomas also created a podcast, Be About It, where she profiles fascinating companies. Beyond this, you can find Thomas leading a variety of efforts and communities dedicated to early-stage founders, from Invanti, a startup generator in the midwest, to The Interrupters, a list that highlights investors committed to backing Black and LatinX founders.
They each have a lot going on, which means that the panel is going to be good fun and a healthy bit of debate between the changing macro environment in startup fundraising.