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Commentary: Record venture capital funding hasn't reached Black, Brown startups – Crain's Detroit Business

Javier Evelyn is the founder and CEO of Alerje, a Detroit-based health technology startup focused on allergy management.
While there’s an incredible risk/reward opportunity for the bold, running a startup can be challenging.
The degree of difficulty rises when we factor in those companies that choose the venture capital/angel investment route to scale their businesses.
Even as we’ve recently seen a boom in U.S. startup funding in just nine months during 2021, this difficulty level is even higher if you’re a Black and/or Brown founder. Unfortunately, this recent record high in funding hasn’t translated into many opportunities for these populations.
Per a recent ZDNet article, Black entrepreneurs in the U.S. raised nearly $1.8 billion this period.
This sounds amazing at first glance. However, when you realize that this only accounts for 1.2 percent of a record $137 billion invested in U.S. startups, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Zooming into our local ecosystem, according to Ann Arbor-based EntryPoint: “The Black population makes up 78 percent of the total population of Detroit. However, across Michigan, the startup and venture capital communities are approximately 65 percent white men.”
All this being said, I know so many amazing startups that are led by marginalized groups that have made do with limited resources. While this adds to the “grit” narrative that’s made the region so great, we won’t truly have a thriving startup ecosystem until we modernize the playbook.
No, we don’t need to be the next Silicon Valley, but we could definitely learn from the thriving diverse ecosystems being built in Atlanta and Miami.
One of the items that stand out in these cities are the number of people of color that are writing checks.
Michigan as a whole has an incredible legacy of entrepreneurship. There are so many examples of diverse founders that have been able to move mountains with limited resources.
Here are a few that may have flown under your radar:

I’m grateful for all of our investors, including those from our recent $1 million seed round — Invest Detroit Ventures, StartUp Health, Detroit Demo Day, Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, Michigan Rise, Quantum Medical Concepts, Unseen Capital, and Jumpstart Health — for believing in me and our team, despite all of the aforementioned challenges that founders like myself have to overcome.
To those investors who haven’t been able to find startups led by people that look like me, I could literally go on for days with the amount of sheer innovation and ingenuity that’s being created in our communities — but would you even listen?
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