top of page

Make the hire, send the wire: How to help underrepresented founders

We’re behind on capital access

A 2019 study conducted jointly by RateMyInvestor and DiversityVC of publicly available VC-backed deals over the last five years and over 10,000 founders found:

  • 77.1% of founders were white, irrespective of gender and education

  • 1% of venture-backed founders were Black

  • Women-funded startups received only 9% of investments

  • Latino founders made up 1.8 % of those receiving funding

  • Middle Easterners totaled 2.8 %

  • Asians made up 17.7 % of venture-backed founders.

Tiffani Ashley Bell says it all on Twitter

At Velo, through our work with entrepreneurs, we have a front row seat on the many efforts being made to accelerate investment in underrepresented founders. This data refers to venture capital funding but we’ve seen the same trends in bank lending, project funding and even in grants (non-dilutive capital).

We still regularly observe that the people and projects that get funded have special access to capital sources. The rest of us have to be smarter.

We have to be smarter

The importance of the statistics above notwithstanding, doing all of the right things to grow a business is extraordinarily challenging for any entrepreneur. Technical expertise of growth options and tactics is custom to each and needs to be gathered and implemented real time in the world today.

Underrepresented founders typically do not have extensive networks to draw upon to meet these challenges. The key work to be done with them is to give them access to expertise through advisers and mentors, and especially to prepare them to make a successful pitch for capital.

Support that makes a difference

Below we're sharing our formula for support that has made a difference for founders and projects we've worked with. We offer advice and capacity building resources for a select group of social enterprises led by underrepresented founders.

Members are typically at pre-accelerator, accelerator or growth phases seeking strategies for smarter growth and scale. Through advice and services as needed, Velo helps prepare Members to companies to grow and ultimately raise capital, across the sectors, typically over a three-year period.

Bringing investor-centered expertise and insights for smarter growth. Services can include:

  • Strategic growth consulting;

  • Guidance with financial modeling;

  • Deal structuring across for-profit and nonprofit capital sources;

  • Ongoing support to ensure long-term success and sustainability;

  • Education and community for capacity building.

Velo receives a warrant for a set amount, for equity in the company at the time of a financing event, typically a capital raise. Founders may opt to pay the value of the warrant in cash at that time instead.

We partner on the journey with our cohort members,

but we don’t get paid until they unlock the capital.


  • Personalized Advice – monthly and as needed advisory sessions exploring growth strategies relative to founder’s personal goals and execution guidance

  • Expertise - access to Velo’s experienced founders and operators, plus advisers who are Velo’s operating partners, most of whom are entrepreneurs themselves and have been there before

  • Targeted execution referrals – access to Velo operating partners, vetted for quality, and shared resources from a pricing perspective so Members can pay as they go for world-class services

  • Ecosystem advisory – Funneling founders to effective, responsive ecosystem providers/accelerators that are right for them

  • Community and Skills Building – optional boot camp and peer sharing sessions


  • Underrepresented founders and entrepreneurs

  • Company must have revenues, typically up to $2 million/year

  • Can be pre- or post-accelerator(s)

  • Raising capital or expecting to do so within a year


  • Monthly advisory meetings

  • Maintain appropriate accounting and legal resources, as Vstudio’s is an advisory role.

Stay tuned as we tell the stories of our members and learn about the impact they are making. We'll seek to engage you as advocates to help them get access to what they need to succeed.

bottom of page