Westbound Equity Partners

Westbound Equity Partners Creates $100M Fund For Black- and Diversity-Focused Founders

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Westbound Equity Partners is on a mission to pour millions into Black, Latino, and diversity-driven founder-driven companies by raising $100 million to focus on the early stages of startup development.

The Black-co-owned venture capitalist firm, formerly known as Concrete Rose Capital, created the fund to help entrepreneurs mitigate a more diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem. Firm co-founder Sean Mendy wants business owners in the early stages to be able to focus on making substantial investments. “We aren’t investing in underrepresented founders as this altruistic thing,” Mendy said. 

“This fund is about investing in the best companies and performance. On the foundation side, we’re focusing on explicit impact.”

According to Philanthropy News Digest, the company’s new name pays homage to the Great Migration, where between 1910 and 1970, millions of Black Americans left the south to make homes in the North and West. During this time, a cycle of racism increased in the South, leaving a lack of opportunity. 

With support from heavy hitters, including Google parent Alphabet, MetLife, and the Ford Foundation, Westbound commits 50% of its profits to fund a partnering foundation that will distribute capital to equity-focused non-profit organizations and programs. 

Westbound was created in 2019 with partners Ian Beadle, Will Bumpus, and Danae Sterental. Since then, the firm has invested in more than 40 startups with its first $25 million initiative fund and is focusing on what Mendy calls “the diversity opportunity” —providing capital to underrepresented founders, in particular Black and Latino companies. 

Mendy said the goal is to invest in startups that serve their communities. “If we can make the next Yahoo, the next LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google diverse in those early days, then the folks that build wealth are going to be more diverse, and they’re going to have the opportunity to go out and be deemed more investable as founders or become investors themselves,” Mendy said, according to Philanthropy News Digest.

“It transforms this vicious homogeneous cycle into a virtuous one that compounds over time.”

Startups like Sierra, an AI firm led by OpenAI chairman Bret Taylor, have already received an undisclosed investment from the California-based firm. Esusu, a credit-building rent payments tool described as one of the latest — and few — Black-led billion-dollar startups, also received funding. 

After Esusu’s co-founder and co-CEO Wemimo Abbey said he “fundamentally believes” in what Westbound is doing, Mendy calls it “the biggest win for the team,” knowing his company is helping underserved and underrepresented founders.