Home » African-American VC launches $17-million fund for startups driving demographic change

African-American VC launches $17-million fund for startups driving demographic change

by Eduardo C. Serrano
Monique Woodard

Monique Woodard, an African-American venture capitalist, has recently launched a $17-million fund under her new venture capital firm, Cake Ventures.

The venture capital firm aims to make pre-seed and seed investments in companies that are driving “demographic change” in terms of an aging and longevity-minded population, the increased earning power of women in society, and a shift towards early tech adopters coming from Asian, Black, and Latino backgrounds.

The fund, which represents her first fund under Cake Ventures, is backed by Bank of America, Cendana Ventures, Foundry Group, Pivotal Ventures, Plexo Capital, and Screendoor. Woodard plans to make about 25 investments overall from the fund; she has made 12 investments already.

Woodard, who has been a veteran of startups and venture capital for two decades, believes that the targeted start-ups in the fund would cater to customer bases that reflected the layers of demographic change.

Woodard stated, “It’s the lens through which I view companies. Even companies that don’t ‘look like’ demographic change companies on the surface have a layer of this under the hood.”

Erin Harkless Moore, the investment director at Pivotal Ventures, the investment arm of billionaire philanthropist Melinda French Gates, said that Woodard impressed while serving as an adviser and mentor to a TechStars accelerator focused on longevity that Pivotal co-sponsored.

“So many more funds out there now are focusing on ‘diversity,’ or diverse founders, or diverse demographics,” Moore said. “Where Monique is differentiated is that she’s going a layer deeper with the depth of her research and looking at the type of products and services and tech that these consumers need.”

The African-American venture capitalist made headlines in 2016 when she joined 500 Startups as its first African-American venture partner to increase the firm’s investments in black and Latino tech entrepreneurs.

At 500 Startups, an early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator founded in 2010 by Dave McClure and Christine Tsai, she led a $25-million microfund that made significant investments in Black and Latino founders and growing markets.

Following her time at 500 Startups, the African-American venture capitalist became a Venture Scout at Lightspeed Venture Partners and a trusted advisor to foundations and venture capital firms like SoftBank, where she advised on the Vision Fund’s Emerge program.

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