The Problem with Tech Funding

And how to fix it.

Black founders and Black entrepreneurs received 0.48 percent of all venture funding in 2023, Crunchbase News reported last month. In 2021, that portion was one percent. That’s already an appalling statistic. But to know in 2023, that Black founders received even less than half of that — something is broken.

In the tech space, venture funding is the financial vehicle by which your idea makes it to market — if you are not independently wealthy, that is, if you’re not connected to a network with means, or if you can’t write the code yourself. If you have a great idea like Uber there’s always a Lyft waiting in the wings. And if they get to market faster, or better, your idea could be dead on arrival. How do you get into the marketplace in time? You cannot go to a traditional bank because that requires two years of market activity and financial statements. But venture funding is a financial option that is meant for startups.

But just getting to a venture capitalist is difficult. And it’s a good example of what brokenness looks like in this space. What, then, does a redemptive imagination of this space look like? Access.

There’s another layer here. Diversity in tech is already behind. Early into my career, firms began, when it came to software, to consider ways to bring down costs. And so they began sending software development offshore, primarily to India, Eastern Europe, South America, and some to Africa. The industry began to diversify, but it began to diversify because of offshore talent. Here in the U.S., we still had issues: Diversifying the talent pipeline was difficult, and because of limited opportunity, the industry continued to look largely white and male. 

The pandemic only highlighted these issues. Communities of color in business were impacted far worse than women and veterans. And in places like here in Colorado, over 95 percent of Colorado’s businesses are small businesses. Colorado’s economy runs on the vibrancy of small business.

I felt that the Lord wanted to use my past experiences — from the beginning of my career up until now — to be able to help small businesses owned by people of color. I knew I couldn’t help every single founder of a small business, especially when it related to physical products (that’s not my expertise), but I knew that I could help with tech.

My co-founder and I asked ourselves: How do we help tech founders of color — tech founders who are particularly underrepresented, underfunded, and underinvested. We began by looking at existing models across the U.S. We engaged folks who ran accelerators, who ran tech incubators, who ran startup bootcamps, weekend warrior sessions, and more. We landed on a program that would allow for early stage tech founders to build and grow their businesses.

We created Access Mode to inspire the entrepreneurship of these kinds of founders as well as equip them with subject-matter experts, mentors, as well as networking so that they can move a good idea along. One of my favorite things to say to my cohorts is from Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: “Begin with the end in mind.” If your “end” is creating a technology product that solves a real problem for people in a way that engages them, and allows them to become customers who then creates revenue for your business, we want to figure out how to get you there.

There are principalities, and there are things happening that I cannot see, things that existed in these spaces before I did. There is imbalance, a history of racism, opposition, and a great deal of bias. A lot of that exists in this space because there’s just not a lot of representation and support for those who don’t look like the traditional founder. And there are times when it just gets really, really difficult, even for me to raise money for Access Mode. But I am confident of the mission that God has given me and am grateful that I get to do this work. I am humbled by the people who pray for me and over the work and who support Access Mode and our entrepreneurs. It’s a blessing that I get to be in a space where people are imagining things that don’t currently exist today and I get to help them bring those things to life. They’re solutioning and thinking about how to fix problems that other people aren’t fixing in creative ways that only God has given them vision for. Together, we will work to see God’s kingdom come.


As told to Sarah Haywood.

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