Empowering Black Founders and Investors Through Education and Access: Black Venture Institute
perspectives / News

Empowering Black Founders and Investors Through Education and Access: Black Venture Institute

Salesforce Ventures, in partnership with BLCK VC, Operator Collective, and Berkeley Haas School of Business, introduces Black Venture Institute.

Salesforce Ventures
October 13, 2020

At Salesforce, we believe that business is a powerful platform for change. We are guided by our core values of trust, customer success, innovation, and equality. As we navigate the current global health and economic crises that have amplified existing inequalities, our values become even more important.

Equality has always been a core value at Salesforce Ventures. We integrate our values, along with a commitment to social responsibility, into our investment and operating processes. We believe it is important to invest time, funding, and resources and leverage our platform to be a conduit for change and we know that addressing systemic inequality requires proactive, long-term, strategic policies and programs.

That is why today, in partnership with BLCK VCOperator Collective, and UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, we are introducing Black Venture Institute, a new organization that aims to foster more equity and opportunity in the venture capital industry through education and access.

Announcing Black Venture Institute

Venture capital is an industry reliant upon access — access to the right network, access to the right knowledge, access to the right opportunity. It is no secret that the technology industry, and specifically venture capital, has an extremely low representation of Black professionals in technical, leadership, and investing roles. Only 1% of venture-backed startups have a Black founder and fewer than 3% of venture capital investors are Black.

Without intentional action, we are destined to fall into the same insular cycle that has delivered low representation in the past. It is our belief that by making venture capital knowledge and networks more accessible, we can help empower the Black technology community and provide a path to accelerate innovation, opportunity, and access.

Black Venture Institute provides an intensive education program and ongoing community dedicated to teaching Black operators the foundational elements to become angel and venture investors. The program enables participants to gain access to experienced, successful investors and learn the foundations of investing, including what investors look for, how to structure deals, and how to contribute as a board member or observer. There are roughly 75 Black check writers in venture capital today. Black Venture Institute will graduate 300 fellows in three years, to potentially 5x that number by 2023.

Black Venture Institute fellows will also be supported by the broader venture capital community and provided ongoing access and mentorship from leading VCs in the ecosystem. Bill Gurley of Benchmark, Ron Conway of SV Angel, Monique Woodard of Cake Ventures, Charles Hudson of Precursor Ventures, and many more have already committed to participate in this program.

Our path forward

Over the years we have worked hard to serve as a vocal ally, as well as an active participant alongside partners aligned in leading the industry into a more equitable future for all. In a year that has brought us all multiple opportunities to reflect, Salesforce Ventures has taken the opportunity to more deeply assess our own internal practices.

A few months ago, Salesforce Ventures announced $100 million of intentional capital to empower cloud companies led by Black and underrepresented minority founders. Our goal is to increase the number of Black and underrepresented minority founders in the Salesforce Ventures portfolio by more than 3X by 2023.

We also continue to build upon strong relationships with investors, accelerators, and advocacy groups to contribute to the rebalancing of a more equitable system and lift up Black students and tech workers. Among the organizations we support are The Hidden Genius ProjectBLCK VCCulture Shift LabsBlack Women Talk Tech, and BOLDforce.

Our pledge

Salesforce Ventures will continue to support the Black community and take an active role in building a more diverse venture ecosystem and empowering Black founders, funders, and members of the tech community with all the tools we have at our disposal, including funding, guidance, sponsorships, and events.

If you are a Black or underrepresented minority founder building an enterprise cloud business and want to pitch Salesforce Ventures, please reach out to us here.

For information about Black Venture Institute, whether you are a VC that wants to join us or if you are a Black operator looking for more information on how you can apply, visit the website here.

For more information about how Salesforce is helping to drive systemic change in our workplace and community, please visit the website here.