In just over a year, Atlanta-based Collab Capital closed its $50 million inaugural fund.
Collab’s founding team is Jewel Burks Solomon, Justin Dawkins, and Barry Givens. Dawkins and Givens sat down with Hypepotamus last summer to discuss the fund’s investing thesis, fostering Black innovation, and building generational wealth.
While Solomon noted there were certain challenges to building investor relationships in a virtual world, she said the Collab Capital team was “fortunate to have already established the thesis prior to COVID and prior to all the things that happened last year related to racial injustice.”
To date, Collab Capital has invested in Atlanta startups Hairbrella, Music Tech Works, and Jax Rideshare along with DC-based Please Assist Me.
Solomon said that Collab plans to invest in 50 startups over the life of the fund, with a specific focus on startups in cities with traditionally lower access to capital like Atlanta, DC, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Detroit.
“There’s no pipeline problem at all,” Solomon added, “as far as great founders who are building incredible businesses and seeking capital. We’re seeing that we’re not going to have any trouble finding 50 companies to invest in. I think that a lot of people took the pandemic as an opportunity to start new businesses. And we’re really seeing that we’re seeing some great ideas and new businesses as a result of the last year that we’ve all been through.”
Grammy award-winning hip hop artist and music executive Lecrae has also joined Collab as an Atlanta-based Growth Partner. Lecrae told Hypepotamus that he is ready to invest and grow Collab Capital’s vision.
“Atlanta is the epicenter of black business and at the same time one of the fastest-growing cities in America. It is home to many Fortune 500 companies. A lot of those companies are dependent on Black talent. Those same people have ideas of their own and companies they can lead. It’s poised for greatness,” he added.
Mailchimp Talks Investment Strategy
Some of Collab’s limited partners include Apple, Goldman Sachs, Google, Paypal, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Mailchimp.
Kathryn Pope, Mailchimp’s Senior Director of Corporate Development, told Hypepotamus that Mailchimp employee engagement helped draw the Atlanta-based email and e-commerce company to Collab Capital.
“Over the past few years, Mailchimp has acquired a handful of small to midsize businesses; however, many of the companies we’ve acquired don’t reflect the diversity of our people at Mailchimp,” said Pope. “And our employees asked us why not. It’s a valid question that came down to there being a smaller pool of minority-owned and women-owned tech companies due to lack of funding opportunities for these communities. To help address this issue, we committed to participating in a fund that focuses on diverse founders: Collab Capital. Their expertise and mission to establish a new institution that provides a viable pathway to sustained wealth for the Black community seemed like a perfect opportunity for Mailchimp to be involved.”
“Our investment strategy hasn’t changed much over the course of the pandemic; we’re always looking for unique, innovative companies that can help us accomplish our mission of empowering the underdog and democratizing sophisticated marketing technology for small businesses. That being said, we’re also mindful of employee experience and know that the pandemic has made the integration of teams more difficult given remote working. With every deal we undertake, we try to take a pragmatic yet nuanced approach to execution and integration, and like most individuals and companies over the past year, have had to adapt and evolve our own processes.”
We’re excited to see Collab’s momentum and look forward to learning about the companies that will join their portfolio over the coming years.
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