VC MKE returning for a second year of connecting founders of color to capital

VC MKE is returning this year for its second in-person event, to be held in conjunction with Summerfest Tech, from June 28 through June 29.

The organization was founded by Milwaukee-area professionals Dana Guthrie, Que El-Amin, Tarik Moody, Ed Javier and Maggie Fernandes. The group hopes to support Midwest founders of color by connecting them with venture capitalists. VC MKE aims to grow an equity-focused startup community.

Last year’s event drew 14 different venture capital firms and 20 founders. Fernandes, co-founder of VC MKE, said the inaugural event was “very well received” and the group looks forward to continuing the work started in 2022.

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“Founders in the region already find it difficult to connect with VCs in general, when you look at founders of color, this is even a greater problem,” said Fernandes. “This event is a start at trying to solve that discrepancy.”

A 2020 Kauffman Fellows report showed that diverse startup teams have trouble initially gaining investments, but once they do, they raise more capital and have better financial outcomes by 30% when compared to non-diverse startups.

“VC MKE will provide opportunities for founders of color to gain valuable experience networking and connecting with VCs,” said Moody, of 88Nine RadioMilwaukee. He is also a co-founder of VC MKE. “We are excited to host this event in Milwaukee along with our friends at Summerfest Tech.”

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For VCs, the event will provide a chance to meet one-on-one with founders of color, as well as connect and network with other investors with similar interests. VCs and founders of color can register to attend the event, which will be held at Potawatomi Casino Hotel along with this year’s slate of Summerfest Tech programming, online.

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