We’re catching up with leaders in our community, so grab some time in your day to listen to the state of entrepreneurship and venture capital!
In this recording, Special Advisor to President Bollinger and Columbia Entrepreneurship founder Richard Witten is in conversation with Kesha Cash. Cash, a CBS grad and Columbia Entrepreneurship Advisory Council Member, is the Founder and General Partner at Impact America Fund, a venture capital firm that makes early-stage investments in tech-driven businesses that create new frameworks of ownership and opportunity within marginalized communities.
IAF closed out 2020 raising a second fund of $55 M, announcing this largest fund ever raised by a sole Black female general partner with a reiteration of their commitment to “building toward a future where every person of color in the US can participate in the economy fully and on their own terms.”
Dive into this conversation, which takes a look at what impact investing means for IAF; how Cash’s work in Wall Street and Main Street has shaped her mission-driven vision; and how IAF is using the rigors of business to invest in overlooked and underserved communities in a way that creates long lasting, sustainable growth for those communities.
Listen to the full conversation here, or check out the highlights in the timestamps below:
2:24 – IAF’s thesis around impact investing has been forged over the years, starting from what Cash describes as growing up low-income in Orange County, California and being able to see “the best of both sides of the railroad tracks.”
4:50 – Cash explains how IAF looks at “inherent impact” investing, and more specifically, impact that is focused on low- and moderate-income communities in America and is intentionally inclusive of people of color.
6:45 – The tricky gray area between seed funding and a Series A fundraise can make all the difference in preparing founders for a valuation that is fair to them and puts them in a position of power. Hear how IAF invests in this bridge phase.
11:15 – Learn about the impact investing deal flow curve and how IAF is focusing on companies that use technology to disrupt systems that keep Black, brown, women, and veteran founders from getting a bigger share of the pie.
14:26 – IAF’s early investment, Mayvenn, offers a compelling look at how technological solutions can empower a community and how the right investment can provide more equitable ownership of an overlooked, under-the-radar market opportunity worth billions.
21:40 – Cash talks about IAF’s second fundraise – accomplished during a pandemic – and what is exciting about having a higher AUM, bigger budget, and new partners who are dedicated to the IAF mission.
25:35 – A look at the evolving and expanding momentum around diversity and the full picture of what it really means to invest in women and people of color.
34:00 – How IAF finds investments, how investments find them, and the role that University connections play in the process.