The Quest to Make An HBCU "Unicorn" - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Oftentimes, the reason for unsuccessful startups is a lack of capital. Hadiyah Mujhid, former founder of Black Founders created HBCU.VC to solve this very issue. Her new venture is helping to train HBCU students to understand venture capital financing and eventually become a part of the venture capital investment community.

Black Enterprise caught up with Mujhid to discuss the program itself, the students recent trip to Cross Culture Ventures, and what she hopes will come out of it all.

 

Marlon Nichols and Hadiyah Mujhid (Image: Tyrone Smith)

(Marlon Nichols, Partner, Cross Culture Ventures and Hadiyah Mujhid. Image: Tyrone Smith)

 

Tell me about your background.

I have been working in tech equity work for over six years, and as a professional software developer for 16 years. I co-founded Black Founders in 2011 with the mission of creating more successful black tech entrepreneurs and create programs such as HBCUHacks which was the first hackathon series that ran at black colleges.

 

Why did you decide to start HBCU.VC?

Racial diversity has been a huge problem for the tech ecosystem. There are a few programs that are looking to address it by building a stronger pipeline of talent or create more founders. However, venture capitalists have a huge impact on the industry. There currently aren’t any programs looking to solve the racial diversity by creating more diverse VCs.

 

Who has access to the content? Is it only targeting HBCU students?

We offer two programs. One program is an intense 1-academic year fellowship. The fellowship, which offers students an internship at a venture capital firm and mentorship, is currently only open to students enrolled at HBCUs. We also offer an online course called VC 101. This course is offered to all, students at any university and professionals. Currently, 75% of the VC 101 enrollees are professionals.

 

Tell us about the student’s recent trip to Los Angeles to visit Cross Culture Ventures.

Two of our fellows, De’Havia Stewart (FAMU) and Khrys Hatch (Fisk), are interning with Cross Culture Ventures. Although the program is mostly remote, our fellows visit their investment partner to participate in training 2-3 times throughout the year. 

HBCU.VC Fellows (Image: Tyrone Smith)

HBCU.VC Fellows,  Khrys Hatch, Fisk; and De’Havia Stewart, FAMU (Image: Tyrone Smith)

 

During their training in October, they participated in CCVs partner meeting with Marlon Nichols, Suzy Ryoo, and Troy Carter. They sat in on an investment pitch by a high profile startup and they were trained on basics such as cap tables and term sheets. Throughout the school year, they will work with CCV to perform industry analysis and research and identify startups for investment.

 

What are your long-term goals for the company?

One of the underpinning reasons for the nonprofit is to leverage opportunities in tech to close the racial wealth gap. Many of the tech companies that fuel Silicon Valley (and employ people here) received investment at an early stage. Sixty years ago, the area surrounding Stanford University didn’t look too different from Prairie View, Texas, today (home of Prairie View A&M—one of our schools).

How do we create opportunities outside of Silicon Valley—opportunities inclusive of black and Latinx communities? What if the next Sergey or Larry comes from an HBCU? We are looking for the next “unicorn” [a startup company valued at over $1 billion] and to support them from an early start. What if we had 4 or 5 black founded tech companies the size of Google? How does that impact our communities, from an employment perspective, from a philanthropic perspective? We’re hoping to lay the foundation for this new reality of a fully inclusive and equitable ecosystem.

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Sequoia Blodgett

Sequoia Blodgett is a Reporter for Black Enterprise. She is also the founder of Commas, a consulting firm that gives entrepreneurs access to top tech and creative resources to help them grow their business.


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