Black Ops Ventures, LLC (Black Ops) today announced the initial close of their first fund, with investments totaling $13 million. Partners Heather Hiles, James Norman, and Sean Green collectively bring more than 50 years of experience as tech entrepreneurs. As investors, these partners are committed to backing outstanding Black tech founders in the United States and Canada.
In securing investments for this initial close, Black Ops relied upon long-standing relationships with some of the most respected names in the tech industry. From successful founders including Drew Houston, Jacob Gibson and Morgan DeBaun to top-tier venture investors, including Ben Horowitz, Union Square Ventures and Jeff Bussgang, the Black Ops partners galvanized their network of investors and founders to support their unique strategy. Rounding out the roster of initial investors are top financial institutions including Bank of America and Northwestern Mutual.
“I am eager to address the tremendous disparity among startups moving from seed funding to Series A capital,” said Heather Hiles, managing partner. “I have advised and met with hundreds of Black founders. I know first-hand there is an abundance of talented and overlooked startups in the marketplace. I have watched dozens grow and many more struggle throughout the years. There is no lack of high-quality, Black-led companies. There is only a lack of access to capital.”
According to theblackfounderlist.com, fewer than 420 Black founders have ever been backed by venture capital, while more than 8,000 founders receive venture funding every year. This lack of access to funding and opportunity for Black founders not only hurts the growth of their companies, it also denies everyone access to technologies with the potential to change lives. Black American creators and entrepreneurs have a rich history of contributions to society, creating hundreds of groundbreaking inventions. With the right funding and support, today’s pioneers can also catapult their ideas from concept to actualization.
“We are part of this community of Black founders, with better access to deal flow than other venture investors, regardless of their cultural background,” said James Norman, partner, who is also founder of Pilotly and co-founder of Transparent Collective, a non-profit program that helps underrepresented founders gain access to the resources they need to scale their tech companies. “Transparent Collective helped Black founders raise more than $50 million in early-stage funding. With Black Ops, we can use our track record of identifying outstanding Black-led companies and bring capital to scale these companies to success.”
Black Ops is committed to leading seed-stage deals with undercapitalized, outstanding Black tech founders. As Black operators themselves, the partners uniquely understand how to build the capacity of these companies and materially enhance their outcomes. As these companies are able to scale and deliver substantial returns to investors, there is the parallel benefit of building Black wealth and enhancing economic inclusion.
Black Ops partner Sean Green explains his vision for the fund, building on his own entrepreneurial journey. “As a Black founder, I am deeply steeped in the Black tech community and understand the untapped brilliance out there. I learned how the startup game is played, and now I want to put that knowledge to work for others,” he said. “I see how Black founders are continuously undercapitalized compared to their White counterparts and how hard it is to secure the funding we need for our companies. I am ready to take what I’ve learned and arm Black founders with capital, insider knowledge, and connections to scale their ventures.”