According to the Harvard Business Review, the lack of diversity in VC board rooms has not only led to a lack of opportunity for diverse founders, but also limited financial returns for the funds themselves.
And although conversations around diversity are beginning to ramp up, progress has been slow. Diverse professionals in VC boardrooms are still too few. And the ones who are present don’t have enough influence when it comes to hiring and investment decisions.
At GoingVC, we’re hoping to change that.
We’re committed to fostering an inclusive and equitable community through all aspects of our programming. And part of that commitment is to provide opportunities to members from underrepresented communities in VC.
We’re super excited to announce we’ve selected two highly deserving individuals for our inaugural GoingVC Vision Scholarship. They are some of the best and brightest in their fields and we’re confident they’re going to go on to achieve incredible things in the VC world.
Allow us to introduce you to Chris Jackson and Shannon Ashford!
Born and raised in Detroit, Chris Jackson is no stranger to the world of entrepreneurship and has always seemed to gravitate towards it.
In fact, in high school Chris jumped headfirst into the startup world, working for an incubator called Ponyride. There, he learned a number of valuable lessons, including how there’s really no substitute for hands-on experience. And he’s taken that lesson along with him as a young business professional.
At Ponyride, Chris also had the opportunity to witness the positive impact venture capital can have on startups and how it can really breathe life into an urban community.
But one of the most important things Chris learned at the incubator, is that it’s the people behind the products that matter the most. That social capital is just as important, if not more important than monetary capital.
And that has stuck with him ever since.
Currently, Chris is honing his finance skills at JP Morgan, assisting with real estate acquisitions and asset management. And in a few years, Chris will pursue his MBA at Harvard Business School as a 2+2 admit.
Chris is super intrigued by property tech and the impact that it’s having on the real estate industry. He closely follows two companies in the space he thinks are making a big impact, HqO and Equiem.
He’s a very impressive guy.
But Chris isn’t going into business or wants to break into VC simply for the money. His real passion?
In fact, two years ago he co-founded the Black Venture Foundation. A non-profit dedicated to supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs and founders.
Through the Black Venture Foundation, Chris has already had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of Andreessen Horowitz and build his own network of VCs and thought leaders in the business community.
But even with all the things he’s accomplished in his 22 years, he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
And that’s one of the main reasons why he decided to join us at GoingVC.
He wants to learn everything he can about the venture capital world. He wants to learn the industry from the inside out, and leverage the GoingVC community so he can continue to pursue his mission of supporting underrepresented minorities, and engage in social impact activities.
One day, Chris has plans to put together his own social impact fund. And when we asked Chris about starting his own fund and growing it to compete with some of the big dogs like Andreessen Horowitz, he responded with “check back with me in ten years.”
We’re going to hold you to that, Chris!
And welcome to the GoingVC Program.
“Ideas are the currency of the 21st Century”
Those are words that ring in Shannon Ashford’s head constantly as an undergraduate at Stanford University. She first heard this from one of her favorite professors in college.
You can probably already guess that Shannon is a deep thinker. An ideas person. She truly enjoys putting her knowledge and resources to good use and helping others solve problems. Getting the opportunity to be creative and innovative is what fuels her!
In fact, “problem solver” is basically Shannon’s profession. As a consultant, she helps C-Suite Executives and large companies overcome their own unique challenges and navigate the sometimes rough waters of corporate America.
And although Shannon certainly enjoys this work, in her experience, it’s startups that are really trying to solve our world’s most pressing problems. It’s the scrappy young tech companies that are pursuing solutions to improve how we live and work in the 21st century.
While in graduate school, Shannon focused her studies on Analytics and International Finance completing degrees at Columbia University and Harvard University, respectively. Her formal studies, along with her professional experiences, have contributed to her interests in VC sectors where these concepts intersect, such as-- fintech, the future of work, big data, and healthtech.
Shannon truly believes startups are the future. And wants to get in on the ground floor.
That’s what began her interest in venture capital.
And it’s one of the biggest reasons she decided to join GoingVC (which has been on her radar for several years now). And when this scholarship opportunity presented itself, Shannon knew it was meant to be.
Through the GoingVC network and the Venture Capital world in general, she hopes to gain access to these world-changing companies. It could give her the opportunity to connect with, and support companies and the ideas behind them.
Shannon wants to mentor these young companies and lend her problem-solving skills. Especially to the ones that are going to help us live and thrive in a more sustainable way. And she’s excited to do so! She thinks it will be a nice change from her big company consulting days.
But she also knows that in order to be a changemaker in the venture capital space, she needs to educate herself and really understand the fundamentals of venture capital. And she is really looking for a community of like-minded peers to help her along her journey.
Well Shannon, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the GoingVC Program!