Last updated on December 16th, 2020 at 01:17 pm
The Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Brewers are used to picking plays independently, but a new collaborative effort has Wisconsin’s pro sports teams all looking at the same playbook.
In partnership with Microsoft, Wisconsin’s major pro sports teams have formed the Equity League, an investment network focused on building a portfolio of technology companies to create more opportunities for Black and LatinX entrepreneurs.
The Equity League, which is a division of venture capital fund TitletownTech based in Green Bay, will be led by Israel Squires, an M&A and securities attorney, entrepreneur and former college football player.
The new partnership plans to establish a presence in Milwaukee, although Equity League founders did not share an exact location during a Tuesday webinar.
The new partnership aims to close the racial equality gap in venture capital, which is evident in the fact that only 1% of startup founders are Black and less than 2% are LatinX. On the investment side, just 3% of the employees at venture capital investment funds are Black or LatinX professionals, according to a press release.
“We’re attacking a multi-faceted, generational problem with a multi-faceted, generational solution,” said Squires, Equity League director. “Our goal is to invest in companies and founders that have strong potential to produce both significant financial returns and large-scale social impact. Our strategy to achieve this is one that challenges the status quo and we’re excited to show how the venture capital and startup space can be used to facilitate long-term, positive change.”
The Equity League will target inequities that exist in the tech startup industry by prioritizing Black and LatinX founders and hiring minority venture fellows, while also investing in sectors including, but not limited to education, fintech, digital inclusion, health equality, urban innovation and criminal justice reform.
The new initiative plans to invest between $100,000 and $1 million in companies from the idea stage all the way to the series A stage, Squires said.
“That’s the beauty of how we structured this,” he said. “It’s not just one fund, we have several funding vehicles coming together. That’s the beauty of unity there in the venture capital space.”
The concept of the Equity League Started with Green Bay Packers president and chief executive officer Mark Murphy, who envisioned building on the success of TitletownTech with an investment network backed by Milwaukee Brewers president of business operations Rick Schlesinger and Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin.
“The shared values between the Packers, Bucks, Brewers, Microsoft and TitletownTech is what made this possible,” Murphy said. “It’s time for us to step up and I’m proud we are taking a bigger role to focus on driving meaningful change and bridging the significant gap for social impact companies and minority founders.”
First announced in 2017, TitletownTech is a partnership between Microsoft and the Green Bay Packers that has created a venture studio and fund, is located across the street from Lambeau Field, and is now shepherding more than 20 new startups into formation with many beginning operations in northeast Wisconsin.