Black Venture Summit
Friday, March 31
Edward P. Evans Hall
Mea-Lynn Wong: My name is Mea-Lynn Wong and I’m a second-year MBA student here at Yale School of Management. And this is my best friend, Julian.
Julian Love: Hey. Julian Love, second-year MBA student, also here at Yale School of Management.
Mea-Lynn Wong: So we’re here to talk to you about the inaugural Yale Black Venture Summit that’s happening on March 31. So Julian, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what this summit is about?
Julian Love: I’ll start with the origin story.We’re both leaders in the Black Business Alliance here at Yale SOM, and we got connected with Onyeka Obiocha, who’s the executive director of CTNext, an agency within the state of Connecticut that focuses on economic development and entrepreneurship. And so we had a conversation—it was just a natural dialogue around the venture ecosystem as it relates to the Black community, and we felt like there were a lot of gaps. And so we talked about the problem a little bit, but then we wanted to get to solutions, and so we thought, well, why don’t we leverage all the resources of Yale—CTNext, Tsai CITY, Startup Yale—and build a summit that centers Black entrepreneurship and that experience here at Yale. And so we’ve really built out a program with people from all sides of the ecosystem. We’re super excited for the impact we want it to have.
Mea-Lynn, can you talk a little about that? What is your vision for the impact that this summit will have?
Mea-Lynn Wong: A little bit of backstory. When I came to Yale SOM, I was interested in entrepreneurship and venture capital, and as I looked around to find people that were interested in the same things that I was, I found that Julian was the only other person who was interested in being a founder. And so when I looked around Yale, I was like, why aren’t there more Black people pursuing entrepreneurship and venture here? So when I think about the Yale Black Venture Summit, we’re really trying to make entrepreneurship and venture capital accessible to the community here.
So as we think about the Black students that are here at Yale and beyond and the incoming Bblack students, I want to make sure that when they get here and if they’re interested in venture or entrepreneurship, that they know people that are in their network that could potentially help them get there. Because when I think about—back to my story, I don’t have any entrepreneurs in the family. I learned about venture capital right before coming to business school. And so for me, if you can make those stories really accessible, it will make more attainable, so I think that is a lot of the purpose of doing this and centering Black entrepreneurship here at Yale. And so I want to turn it back to you and ask you what can people expect for today on March 31.
Julian Love: We have a jam-packed day. I’m very excited about all the different sessions and panels, but we’re going to start the day with unpacking the problem and understanding that a little bit further. And so we have McKinsey’s Institute for Black Economic Mobility coming to talk about the VC funding gap and what are the greater implications of that on Black wealth in general. And so after we have that good grounding, we’ll go into our founders panel, and so we have some phenomenal Black founders who’ve done the process, who’ve raised venture capital, who’ve found product market fit and scaled their companies, and so they’re going to talk to us about their journeys.
After that, we’ll get into the pitch competition. We’re doing a pitch competition in conjunction with Startup Yale, and we have five finalists. They’re going to come pitch; we have a panel of VCs who are going to grill them and ask them questions, do some Q and A, and then one team will win. It’ll be granted $20,000 of non-dilutive funding, so we’re super excited about that.
After that, we’ll go into our VC panel, and so we also have a group of super stellar VCs from the top VC firms coming to talk about their journey, explain the industry, talk about what they look for in a founder and give feedback directly to Black founders. Then after that, we’ll get into our keynote, which will be mostly about solutions. That’s the day. We’re very excited.
Mea-Lynn, I will kick it back to you to talk a little bit about the audience.
Mea-Lynn Wong: So who is the summit for? The summit is essentially for anyone who’s interested in entrepreneurship, venture capital. If you are an aspiring founder, if you’ve thought about entrepreneurship and you want to learn a little bit more about it, this would be a great opportunity for you. It’s for people that want to understand the funding gap. Why isn’t enough funding going to Black entrepreneurs? And the summit will be free, so it’s open to anybody who is here in the community or even in the greater Connecticut community. We invite everyone to join us on March 31.