I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago speaking at the Global Blockchain Forum when I had the opportunity to connect with a few fellow speakers and attendees over some drinks. While it was generally an enjoyable event — great speakers, panels, networking, etc. — one thing that we had all seemed to notice was a very serious lack of women, black and Latino founders at the event.
This, however, wasn’t a problem with just this one specific conference. Rather, this was an industry-wide issue. Women, black, and Latino founders are seriously under-represented in tech when compared to the general population. According to the Atlassian 2018 State of Diversity Report, currently, men hold 76% of technical jobs, and 95% of the tech workforce is white.
Furthermore, black and Latino populations in the U.S. are growing faster than ever. According to the Pew Research Center, by the year 2055, 68% of the U.S. population will be women, black and/or Latino.
Though we as a nation have come a long way towards racial and gender equality, there still remains much to be done. Women, black, and Latino founders still face an immense disadvantage in raising venture funding, and participating in the tech industry in general. And this isn’t just a social issue, for those who think “mere” social injustices aren’t problems worth solving.
In 2016, the Center for Global Policy Solutions reported that “due to discriminatory financing practices and a bias towards companies primarily operated by white males, America is losing out on over 1.1 million minority-owned businesses, and as a result, foregoing over 9 million potential jobs and $300 billion in collective national income,” [emphasis mine].
There lies incredible potential for financial return in accessing the billions in untapped market opportunity with the entrepreneurial talent of women, black, and Latino founders. We can help build unicorn companies where they may have otherwise never existed.
That’s why we are creating a tokenized fund to invest in under-represented founders in tech (namely, women, black and Latino founders), with a security token representing a proportional share of returns from the fund’s investments.
Why tokenize the fund? Tokenization allows for greater liquidity and transparency for investments, and allows a greater pool of investors to participate in, and benefit financially from, the fund.
ZERO55 will focus on technologies that will shape the next 100+ years of the global economy, like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality; and areas of social impact representing trillion-dollar markets, like healthcare, education, and smart cities.
I know how hard it can be for under-represented founders to get started and succeed in building innovative tech companies. I’m a Latino tech founder myself, currently serving as CEO/Co-Founder of Izzy Care, a direct-to-consumer healthcare membership, featured in top healthcare publications like MedCity News, Healthcare Weekly, and Becker’s Hospital Review, with published research in Blockchain in Healthcare Today.
That’s why I’m starting this fund — to help women, black, and Latino founders build and scale their startups to billion-dollar enterprises — and am rallying others to the cause.
This project is in its earliest stages, and we still have a ton of work to do — connecting with more potential LPs/investors for the fund, both retail and institutional; building out the management team; creating our security token (most likely on Polymath) and registering with the SEC, and much more. And we can use your help.