During our Series B, we set out to get more traditionally marginalized investors onto our cap table as a concrete way to increase representation in the venture capital ecosystem and work to close the racial wealth gap.
Inspired, in part, by the Diversity Rider, we decided to allocate 10% of our last round—and we commit to allocating 10% of all future funding rounds—to Black and Latinx investors via a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). I’m proud to share that we’ve brought on 80 Black and Latinx investors.
Today, we’re sharing the details behind this initiative in an attempt to encourage founders of other fast-growing, early-stage startups to do the same.
Here is the step by step process:
- Understand the legal considerations and plan your timeline:
- This post is a high-level guide, not legal advice. Always reach out to your own legal counsel. In particular, consult with a team specializing in the structuring, organization, and operation of venture capital and other private equity funds.
- SPVs have particular nuances that are important to understand, but these aren’t insurmountable, and most information is publicly available. If you can start a company, you can start an SPV.
- Budget roughly three months for this process. All in all, it took us ~two months.
- Get buy-in from the top:
- Make sure all co-founders and execs are bought in, then secure board approval.
- This is the right thing to do from a governance perspective and also ensures that the SPV will have all the support needed to be successful.
- Discussing the SPV with the board beforehand can also inspire VCs to encourage their other portfolio companies to do the same.
- Identify the groups you want to include:
- Unfortunately, there are many underrepresented groups in tech (i.e., Black, Latinx, female, and LGBTQ+). The groups you decided to include are up to you and likely depend on your personal story.
- We decided to focus on Black and Latinx investors, given our backgrounds and the fact that Black and other Latinx entrepreneurs and investors were the first to believe in me and back Finix. They continue to be some of our biggest supporters today, whether they're on the cap table or not.
- If you don’t know where to get started, check out groups such as https://www.blckvc.com and https://latinxvcs.com.
- Decide what portion of your funding round(s) you want to allocate:
- Pick an amount that is large enough to be meaningful and an amount you can commit to in the future.
- Setting this up as a perpetual commitment makes it easier for early investors to exercise their pro-rata rights and not get diluted as you raise future rounds.
- Identify a manager for the SPV:
- Some of the interested investors volunteered to co-manage the SPV. This allowed me to focus on running Finix.
- The managers used Flow to set up and run the SPV.
- Cultivate a community:
- We now have a fantastic group of investors, operators, and founders who share investment and recruiting opportunities with each other.
- Our SPV participants meet up on a bi-monthly basis. You can do the same or start a private Slack channel—anything that helps new investors connect and support each other.
How it’s going
We ended up with more than 80 investors joining the SPV, including Jewel Burks Solomon, Head of Google for Startups in the US & Managing Partner at Collab Capital. Here’s what she had to say about the initiative:
People too often focus on one aspect of diversity, but it’s not just about the diversification of your board members, leadership team, or cap table—it’s about all of them combined. Start where you can and increase your commitments as you can. We opened our cap table to traditionally marginalized investors via an SPV to show how other companies can tangibly work towards increasing representation in the tech industry and closing the racial wealth gap.
I hope you join us.