Facebook’s falling stock price after its highly anticipated IPO may have disappointed some investors, but that doesn’t overshadow this important point — entrepreneurs took a great idea and turned it into a multi-billion dollar business that created thousands of jobs.
Venture capital firms invested in Facebook early on. Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners and Elevation Partners reaped the benefits of its stake in Facebook from the May 18th IPO. As the fallout continues over the Facebook IPO and the resulting share price slump, what are venture capital funds doing to discover the next Facebook or transformational product or service? Will the next disruptive technology come from a person of color or a woman?
Access to capital is one of the biggest barriers facing start-ups. This is where the Venture Capital Access Program or VCAP© comes in. VCAP© is a partnership between the Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of Greater New York (HBSAANY) and The National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC). The HBSAANY invests nearly $2 million dollars into 7 to 10 companies annually.
“We’re representing a diverse group of entrepreneurs with the potential to develop something equally transformative over time if given the resources,” says Ed Dandridge, President and CEO of The NAIC.
VCAP© seeks entrepreneurs across the traditional and digital business spectrum. Dandridge says companies in high growth businesses such as technology, life sciences, and consumer packaged goods are ideal candidates. “We’ve seen applications that are e-commerced based, such as hair, skin and makeup products for women of color.”
How Can You Get Involved?
Dandridge says about 75 to 100 companies are completing applications and paying the $500 application fee, applicable to non-members of The Marathon Foundation. VCAP© will select 6 to 8 applicants as finalists. “There will be entrepreneurs where this will be their first exposure to the [venture capital] process,” Dandridge says. The finalists will be announced on June 18th and will present their business plans to the HBSAANY on Pitch Night, which will be held on June 27th. He stresses VCAP© will also provide mentoring and counseling, setting it apart from the traditional venture capital structure.
Mentoring and networking is what Charles Johnson desires from the program. Johnson is a former manager at Microsoft, and is one of the applicants to VCAP©. He currently serves as the CEO of a cyber security firm based in the Washington, DC area. “I would appreciate the funding and will value the network with the Harvard Alumni Angel program. I expect to one or two advisors for my business from the VCAP process,” Johnson says.
Johnson warns that just because the program targets women and minorities, that doesn’t mean that the products and services many of these companies will offer aren’t for the masses. “These are not trivial businesses we want to start. They will be socioeconomically and economically transformational.”
The VCAP© program finalists will also get a chance to present their plans at the Marathon’s 7th Annual Dealmakers Summit on July 23rd and 24th in Chicago.
Shartia Brantley is a producer and on-air reporter at CNBC. Follow Shartia on Twitter at @shartiabrantley