Setting the stage.
I am an African American male, born and raised in the Southern United States but now living in Silicon Valley. By most measures in the US, I am a minority. As such, I personally experience both direct and indirect forms of race-based discrimination every waking day. I’ve had these experiences for as long as I can remember regardless of geographic location, educational or professional achievements, job title, material possessions, or financial status. However, if you know me from corporate or entrepreneurial spaces, you’ll know this isn’t a topic I speak about frequently, if ever. My public silence on the topic was in no way related to avoidance but due almost exclusively to having unsettled views on the best mechanism to use in driving the type of change I want to see for my community.
With that in mind, I’ve learned over time, in spite of those experiences with discrimination, that varying forms of education and intentionally targeted capital resources used in coordination with an active support network can help level the playing field even against those with extreme biases (especially in the entrepreneurial space). I’ve been very fortunate to have access to each of those tools throughout my career, but I’m acutely aware that most individuals from my extended community do not. More specifically, I personally know entrepreneurs from my community that do not. That said, I’m also of the school that believes influencing true, long-lasting change for minority groups requires that the color of our skin and our children’s skin become normalized in society.
It is of course hard to find the tools or be considered normal if the environment you’re navigating as a professional is filled with hidden biases, hindered by widely held disbeliefs in the positive effects of a diverse team, your startup’s pitching audience is lacking anyone that looks like you, or your general access to capital is severely limited. To paraphrase, I simply wish to make it possible for a person to be both a minority and an American without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in their face.
“He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American…without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face.” W. E. B. Du Bois
The mission then is to build a platform that provides those tools mentioned, to help grow the seeds of entrepreneurship throughout underserved communities. Tributaries Capital is meant to help progress toward that end.
How will it work?
With TC the operating theory is that if we can create a platform that simplifies entrepreneur’s access to an unbiased and supportive network, focusing on more than just capital but also on education that utilizes the collective experience of industry experts, then we can perhaps continue leveling the playing field.
First, we need to prove that the model works and that minority founders can achieve the same or better success as non-minority founders. So, to test and validate the theory, we’re starting small to build a foundation that supports scale.
What investments are we targeting, and why?
To enable our mission, we’re partnering with early-stage, minority founders focused on building Supply Chain and Real Estate SaaS or Service companies.
As a leader in the corporate arena, I’ve spent my entire career in various functions interacting with the Supply Chain ecosystem from supplier management to inventory and warehousing real estate. Supply chains, and the real estate required to support them, are what I know and what I’m good at, but its also a space in which I’m very aware of the issues and inlets for technological disruption. Additionally, as COVID forces companies of all sizes to reevaluate their broader, global supply chains, and make adjustments that allow them to be more nimble in effort to avoid future disruption, innovating will be the only route to survival.
As an individual investor, one of my more active areas has been in the residential real estate space, forcing me to also become very familiar with the ecosystem around sourcing and closing a real estate deal. If you’ve ever purchased a home or commercial property, you’ll know there are a lot of moving parts in the process, from placing the “For Sale” sign to coordinating the system used to signature your title. Its a bit of a “bird’s nest”, but correspondingly that “nest” is why my partners and I believe this continues to be an area ripe for innovation.
Our focus is on the founders that will lead this charge, for both spaces, through innovative applications and/or disruptive operational services.
As the founding partner, I’m pledging my own funds as well as my expertise to ‘Catalyst Fund I’. In parallel, my partners and I are actively fundraising a significantly larger amount. If I’m to heed my advisor’s experiences correctly, “fundraising is hard and will take time”, so that’s where you’ll find us in our free time for the near future.
Follow the journey at www.tributari.es