New Entrepreneurial Diversity Fund Showcases Six Startups

By Mike Rogoway
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new fund in Oregon called the “Elevate Inclusive Fund” is a publicly packed pool of investment dollars targeted to diversify Oregon’s entrepreneurial community.

The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

An MIT and Stanford grad who had spent years working in software engineering, Stephanie Lampkin says that when she applied for new technical jobs she nonetheless found herself shuttled toward nontechnical sales and marketing work instead.

So she “took my nontechnical self” and started her own company. But when she sought funding for the new business, Blendoor, Lampkin said she didn’t seem to fit what venture capitalists were anticipating.

“When I went in to pitch, most investors have never seen a black woman technologist,” Lampkin said.

The San Francisco entrepreneur ultimately looked north for her investment, landing $50,000 from the new Elevate Inclusive Fund, a publicly packed pool of investment dollars targeted to diversify Oregon’s entrepreneurial community.

In Oregon, as elsewhere, companies run by white males receive an overwhelming share of venture investment. The publicly backed inclusive fund aims to open investment dollars to a broader group of entrepreneurs.

While Lampkin will continue living in California, she is seeking additional funding in Oregon and plans to hire web designers and software developers in Portland — capitalizing on her new investment, Portland’s relatively low operating costs, and the city’s entrepreneurial spirit.

“The culture here Is very much seeking out what I will call pioneers,” Lampkin said.

The new inclusive fund showed off its first six investments Wednesday, drawing on $250,000 from the state of Oregon, $500,000 from Multnomah County, $500,000 from the Portland Development Commission and private investment.

A parallel fund, Elevate Capital, has established a $4.2 million fund backed by Meyer Memorial Trust, the Oregon Community Fund and private investors including Stephen Marsh, chief executive of Portland online archivist Smarsh. Elevate Capital is investing in some of the firms backed by the inclusive fund.

Related News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *