As the start date for my interview time quickly approaches, I am preparing myself to be immersed in the world of startup companies and VC firms. In the coming week, I will be introduced to the rest of the Tampa Bay Wave team and begin my 10-week internship with the organization.
Throughout my internship with Tampa Bay Wave, I will be periodically conducting audits on the forms found on the business incubator’s website and building a list of potential minority-led investment firms for the company’s CORE program. More specifically, my primary focus in the coming summer will be to assist Tampa Bay Wave in searching for VCs that fund minorities and underrepresented founders and figure out where the ideal place we should look to recruit companies that fund the CORE program. This work will consist of comprising lists of minority-led investment firms and cross-referencing it with the startups that Tampa Bay Wave has that are a part of the CORE program. I will have to investigate the portfolio of these VC firms and determine whether the startups Tampa Bay Wave currently has will appeal to them. The tasks and responsibilities that I will be doing with Tampa Bay Wave over the summer will contribute to building a pipeline for the CORE program.
Likewise, my research project directly relates to the work that I will be conducting. My research project deals with determining the factors stopping African-Americans from gaining financial capital and scaling their businesses. I was explicitly intrigued by this problem because the number of African-American startups is significantly disproportionate compared to the average of many other races.
By interviewing various VC investors, I’ll be able to gain insight from an investor’s perspective and determine any underlying factors that may prevent them from investing in an African-American business. Areas such as a company’s management team, business plan, or even the team’s pitch could contribute to venture capitalists backing out from investing in a startup. I am being presented with invaluable opportunities to learn what venture capitalists and angel investors look for in a startup and can capitalize on that knowledge whenever I decide to create my own company. Additionally, I can partake that information with other business owners and startup founders in my community to assist other entrepreneurs in securing funding for their business ventures.