Westbound Raises $100 Million To Invest In Black, Latin And Diversity-Minded Founders

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I'm a senior editor at Forbes covering venture capital and startups, especially in cloud and AI, out of New York. I edit the Midas List and Under 30 for VC, and created the Midas List Europe and Cloud 100 lists. I've written more than a dozen cover stories on business leaders including Marc Benioff, Patrick Collison and Melanie Perkins.

Sean Mendy’s venture firm, previously called Concrete Rose, quadrupled its fund size due to a portfolio including fintech unicorn Esusu and buzzy AI startup Sierra.When OpenAI chairman Bret Taylor announced early last year he was resigning as co-CEO of Salesforce to start a new company, it kicked off an investor frenzy.

Such is a calling card for Mendy at Westbound, until today known as Concrete Rose Capital. Since its founding in 2019, the firm has invested in more than 40 startups along what Mendy calls “the diversity opportunity”: providing more capital to underrepresented founders, particularly Black and Latino ones, and to startups that primarily serve their communities; then, like with Sierra, it also looks to back blue-chip companies that want to prioritize a more equitable culture and workforce.

Like with its first fund, Westbound committed 50% of its profits to fund a corresponding foundation, which allocates that capital to a number of equity-focused non-profit organizations and programs in turn. As a young firm, Westbound is light on exits so far, but can point to a number of companies that have since reached higher valuations, such as Sierra and Esusu, a credit-building rent payments tool on the. “The fund is about investing in the best companies and performance.

Mendy, Norman and Bumpus, the son of television personality Gayle King and godson to Oprah Winfrey, all identified as Black; when the partners announced the firm publicly in July 2020, the wave of national protests following the murder of George Floyd was fresh. “This is clearly a moment — if not **the** moment — to focus on these opportunities,” they

Concrete Rose survived and even flourished, Mendy said, in part because, already deep into fundraising, it had approached new relationships in those emotional days of 2020 with caution. “We haven’t seen fundamental changes that solved the problem of the funding gap by any means,” Mendy said. “It’s more important than ever for the funds born of that moment to perform, and have the opportunity to perform.

Source: News Formal (newsformal.com)

 

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