The Challenges of Fundraising as a Black Entrepreneur
At 23, Trinity Mouzon Wofford and her high school sweetheart Issey Kobori launched their superfood health and beauty brand Golde in 2017 as a response to the modern wellness movement trending towards the ultra-luxe and inaccessible products. Golde was picked up by Sephora in 2019, making Mouzon Wofford the youngest woman of color to launch at the beauty retailer brand. Following, the team was named to the 30 under 30 Forbes Food and Drink List. After being accepted to Target Takeoff, the retailer’s accelerator, Golde hit the shelves early this year at 460 Target stores nationwide, plus Target online. These are some of the lessons learned by Trinity in working with investors as extracted from an interview last year on Forbes.com.
1.Don't be surprised by the awkwardness of some investors.
Some investors reached out to me because they now realize that they need to include Black voices. On a personal level, I'm still processing this new reality, but it's better to know why they are reaching out. My suggestion for investors to say is 'I'm reaching out to you because I saw you in XYZ publication about Black-owned businesses,' or 'because I've known about you guys for a while, and the movement to support more Black-owned businesses is top of mind for me." It's okay for the investor to say it because it's a little weird not to say it.
2.Investors do not always own up to their actions.
If an investor disappears on you, apologizes, and says if you're open to it, I still want to connect. That would not have been problematic. Shit happens, and people get busy. Sometimes we don't always behave as we would ideally like to professionally. Not owning it is where a problem arises. I've seen so many individuals and brands come out and say, 'we have a lot of work to do. These are all the things we're doing that have been ineffective or unintentionally racist.' It is on them to own it.
3.Don't expect investors to always be on the up and up.
We're a capitalist society. The founder does need the investor's money. But I think investors should think a bit of the power they hold and be a little more thoughtful about how they wield it. Can you think about why exactly you're suddenly reaching out to me now, with interest in that space? That behavior is just par for the course with the investor-founder dynamic, which I think is very messed up. Investors can do whatever they want. They can promise you the moon, and then they can just disappear because you're the one getting their money.
4.Target female and diversity funds.
I've been disrespected by investors, white and Black. But when I connect with an investment fund with diversity or that specifically has a Black woman in a position of power, it gives me unique visibility into their values. I wouldn't turn down investment from a great, though not diverse team But, if the team is diverse, it helps point me in the direction that this is a thoughtful organization. They are not necessarily bullies who are just trying to close deals and then drive founders.