Silicon Valley is full of people from all walks of life, very little of his wealth is distributed evenly, especially when talking about the LGBTQ+ community.
This is currently estimated less than 1% of venture capital goes to openly LGBTQ+ founders. There are no figures on how much of that capital goes specifically to trans founders or how many investors identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. What is known is that LGBTQ+ founders still feel the need to hide their identities from investors.
Enter LGBT+ VC, a non-profit organization which aims to advance LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ affiliated venture investors. Launched by investors Tiana Tukesa black trans woman who has worked at Accenture, Sequoia Capital and Silicon Valley Bank, and Jackson Blocka former early-stage investor who identifies as bisexual, the nonprofit hopes to foster a new generation of inclusivity within the venture ecosystem by cultivating and educating investors to support and accept LGBTQ+ founders and funders.
To that end, LGBT+ VC plans to host networking events, conferences and educational classes for the LGBTQ+ community to help them learn how to become accredited investors, one of the many steps needed to shift mindsets and allow for more intersectionality. add to company scripts.
“We are trying to change who is an investor and who these founders can get opportunities with,” Block told gotechbusiness.com+.
“The best investors right now are investing in LGBTQ-founded companies,” Tukes added. “Open AI is a good example. That’s the hot ticket business for me right now.
The initiative comes amid a historic wave of hatred against the LGBTQ+ community in the US anti-trans legislation across the country and crimes against the LGBTQ+ community are on the rise across the country. In fact, Tukes and Block were inspired to start the nonprofit after the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting late last year, in which a gunman attacked the city’s only LGBTQ+ club and killed five people.
“It was really hard to see the silence of the entrepreneurial community,” Block told gotechbusiness.com+. “Tiana and I got together and we thought, ‘where can we make a difference?'”
That resulted in the duo tapping into their networks and assessing the relationship the LGBTQ+ community currently has with the tech ecosystem. According to Tukes, the reception has been warm so far and the nonprofit has managed to attract investors from some law and accounting firms, as well as banks and larger technology companies.
On June 19 and June 20, the nonprofit will host its first summit in New York City, called Stonewall to Silicon Valley. This is all part of a larger mission to change what it means to be a venture capitalist. I recently sat down with the two investors to talk about their nonprofit, how they got started, and their plans to build a network of allies.
(Editor’s Note: The interview below has been edited for length and clarity)
Why did you decide to launch this nonprofit together and how did you know now was the time to take the risk?
Jackson Block: There is a huge opportunity hidden in plain sight. Twenty percent of Gen Z identify as LGBTQ+. In addition, according to Gallup, the LGBTQ+ community is one of the fastest growing segments of the US population. That’s a market opportunity.
Tiana Tukes: Our mission is to help all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people thrive. Particularly in US history, there are times, particularly in the civil rights movement, where black leaders and Jewish leaders [Block is Jewish] came together in times of crisis for social progress. We see this primarily as a continuation of that legacy and secondly as part of our LGBTQ+ history.