After realizing the vast majority of enterprise capital companies concentrate on coastal corporations, Kelli Jones noticed a possibility to spend money on underrepresented, Midwestern founders.
“The expertise is right here, the entrepreneurs are right here,” says Jones, referring to the momentum behind companies within the Midwest and the graduates rising from the area’s prime engineering faculties. “I moved again house to Indiannapolis as a result of I noticed the chance to maneuver faster. There’s actually not quite a bit occurring that’s centered on numerous founders within the Midwest.”
On Monday, Jones introduced the launch of her Indiana-based VC agency Sixty8 Capital’s first $20 million fund, backed by traders together with Allos Ventures, The Indiana Subsequent Degree Fund, 50 South Capital, Financial institution of America, Eli Lilly and Firm, First Web Financial institution and the Central Indiana Group Basis. To start out, Sixty8 Capital will make investments $250,000 to $500,00 in 30 pre-seed and seed-stage corporations led by entrepreneurs who’re individuals of colour, ladies, LGBTQ+ or have disabilities. Its first portfolio firm is Black-owned, Indianapolis-based cellphone screening platform Qualifi. Corporations can apply by way of the agency’s on-line utility.
Whereas that is her first time working a VC agency, Jones believes her previous experiences—together with launching a advertising and marketing firm in 2016, working in gross sales and advertising and marketing for venture-backed media corporations resembling Blavity and managing packages for TechStars—will assist her spot the under-the-radar startups destined for fulfillment.
Along with her curiosity in fintech and edtech corporations, Jones additionally has her eye on startups exterior the tech sector in magnificence, well being, wellness and shopper packaged items, all of which have seen an uptick in individuals of color-owned companies.
“I like merchandise which might be fixing issues in our neighborhood, and which might be based by people who perceive the issues in our neighborhood,” says Jones.
In latest months, a variety of new companies together with MaC Enterprise Capital and the Bay Mills Range Fund have launched with comparable missions to assist underrepresented founders. However Sixty8 is without doubt one of the solely to prioritize this space of the nation.
Jones can be searching for corporations that prioritize civil engagement. The agency’s title is essentially impressed by 1968, a pivotal 12 months for civil rights advocacy. Jones is hoping to harness that vitality because the agency continues to carve out its path and make an influence.
“My private protest is attempting to make it possible for extra Black persons are gaining access to the capital they want, that they are constructing companies which might be sustainable, and that we actually begin to see some [progress] within the financial wealth hole for our neighborhood,” says Jones.