The turn of a new year is a chance to reflect on successes and lessons learned, as well as an opportunity to look towards the future. For Black Innovation Capital (BIC), 2021 was a whirlwind inaugural year. Our team met with hundreds of amazing Black founders in Canada and beyond, secured a number of incredible partnerships to support them, and advocated for more diversity and inclusion in the start-up and venture capital ecosystem. 2022 looks to offer even more promise.
Here’s a review of what we’ve done so far, and a sneak peek at what we’re aiming for in the year ahead:
A Summer Launch
After officially launching our $10M (CAD) fund in June 2021 (noted in publications such as The Toronto Star, BNN Bloomberg and Yahoo! Finance), our team hit the ground running, connecting with a number of incredible Black tech entrepreneurs from Canada, the United States, and abroad. Nearly 200 companies reached out to us in six months, some of which we got to see again at competitions like the DMZ’s Black Innovation Summit or celebrations such as the launch of UofT Entrepreneurship’s Black Founders Network.
Our takeaway from this outreach confirms our investment thesis: that there is a multitude of Black-led startups doing ambitious and world changing things, and we were grateful to hear from them. Look out for an announcement on our first investments very soon!
Education & Institutional Collaborations = Mission Acceleration
Direct investment aside, one of our goals is to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the start-up and venture capital ecosystem at large. In Toronto, we partnered with The DMZ to be another local pipeline to investment, and in Quebec, we formed a multi-year pact with HEC Montréal to assist Black Francophone founders, a program that encompasses funding, training and mentorship. We also participated in many webinars, such as the What Investors Want series from the University of Toronto and Clayton Christensen Institute, to further highlight this mission.
The fast success of BIC attracted corporate partners as well. Now our portfolio will have access to resources within the legal and financial services industries, through collaboration with Torys LLP and MNP respectively.
Working (and standing) together with like-minded institutions helps us to improve the means of success for Black founders. Slowly but surely, it opens the door wider for them to triumph, hopefully until no door is needed at all.
In The Conversation Now: Some Early Recognition for Black Innovation Capital
The team secured many glowing press mentions, both in English and French. In addition to our launch coverage, Lise’s was interviewed with BDC for Women of Influence, appeared on BMO’s Audacieu(se) podcast, which highlight her background, extensive experience, and hopes, and was noted as one of the 29 Powerhouses in Canada “making the world better” by Refinery29.
There’s an adage that says, “If you can see it, you can be it”, so here’s to further inspiring members of the Black community by continuing to be in the conversation, and to likewise be inspired by the accomplishments of the many other trailblazers in our Community.
Onwards: Our Objectives for 2022
Building on the momentum of the past seven months, BIC aims for an exciting year in 2022. As mentioned, soon, we will be highlighting our first four investments (with aspirations to make about 18 total investments in the next 4 years!)
Traction on partnerships is a key objective too. We’re looking forward adding more partners in key areas to provide further resources for companies in our portfolio, and announcing the growth of our (oversubscribed!) fund through the inclusion of key strategic investors.
Lastly, a change in the calendar prompts a fresh perspective on our name. Rest assured however, the vision and strong team remain in tact. Call it an extra chapter, with more words to add to our story soon.
Onwards and upwards.