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Emory University’s Student-Run Venture Fund Focuses On Underrepresented Entrepreneurs-Forbes

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

Since George Floyd’s assassination in 2020, the venture capital sector has been grappling with its lack of diversity. Despite companies’ increased efforts to hire more diverse employees and support more disadvantaged entrepreneurs, the needle hasn’t shifted much. Many companies are attempting to retrofit this new perspective onto old tactics while simultaneously unlearning prejudices. What would the industry look like if prospective investors were educated from the start to value diversity and inclusion?

The Peachtree Minority Venture Fund at Emory University was founded on this principle. Willie Sullivan, a ’21 MBA student, worked on a school consulting project in 2020 that looked at how Emory might best help Atlanta’s varied group of entrepreneurs. When he asked Black entrepreneurs about their main challenges, the most common response was a lack of financing. According to Sullivan, the solution to assisting these firms was obvious: Emory could create its own fund to support them.

The idea of a student-run startup fund isn’t new. Many institutions, even ones not often linked with the venture capital ecosystem, such as the University of Connecticut and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, have created them. However, Emory’s approach is unique in that it uses a venture fund with a diversity objective. It teaches students not only how to be successful future venture capitalists, but also how to approach the sector fully conscious of present prejudices and with the instruments to invest in the other direction.

Source: Emory University’s Student-Run Venture Fund Focuses On Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

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