Young investors are collaborating in Harlem to help diverse startups get funding. Millennial entrepreneur Henri Pierre-Jacques, one of the founding members of Harlem Capital Partners, understands the financial struggles small businesses owned by people of color face and are working to boost inclusion.
The lack of diversity at business events coupled with a growing interest in investment, inspired Harlem Capital Partners founding team of five to reach out to founders of color with ideas that were missing one thing: capital.
“We believe there is an upside to investing in diverse founders. They’re used to doing more with less capital. You just have to be two times better as a minority,” explains Pierre-Jacques, a 26-year-old Detroit native, on the company’s vision and their specific attraction to minority businesses.
Pierre-Jacques offers some advice for those looking for small business funding.
1. Don’t quit your day job: “Try to build as much of the business as you can while you’re getting paid by someone else. It also allows you to make decisions on the business for the business sake, not to feed your plate”, suggests Pierre-Jacques. “By doing so, you can make smart risks that won’t affect your personal life and you can work on your side hustle without worrying about it needing to be your main source of income.”
2. Get opinions: “Before you go to real investors who have larger dollar amounts, make sure you’re getting feedback from people like them or different people in this space on your presentation and your understanding of what venture firms look for. We need to write a check believing that other people are going to write a check or we’re wasting a check”, Pierre-Jacques points out. Constructive criticism will get you far in making the necessary corrections to your business model and proposal.
3. Do your research: “Understand how venture works. When you get a bunch of nos from venture firms, it’s not that your business isn’t good, your business just doesn’t fit their business model in terms of what they need to get their return. A lot of minorities don’t understand that so we try to tell them we’re not giving you money because you don’t need venture money and we don’t want to take equity from you”, he explains. Knowing exactly how venture capitalism works and whether you actually need it or not based on your company’s return profit will be a large determining factor of your next steps.
To learn more about Harlem Capital Partners, visit the company website here.