Today, we are excited to announce our partnership with DivInc, an organization that is transforming the entrepreneurial ecosystem into a more authentically inclusive environment. Since 2016, DivInc has been dedicated to helping underrepresented founders build successful businesses. It has provided more than 70 founders and 64 tech and tech-enabled companies with strategies and resources to help grow their businesses.
What do we hope to achieve from this relationship? Our shared goal is centered around remaining focused on the needs of underrepresented founders as we work to expand access to venture capital funding. During our discussions with the DivInc team, it became clear that Next Coast could best be of service to these founders by providing mentorship, support and onramps for these early-stage founders with the longer term goal that they become part of our potential investment pipeline.
Next Coast Ventures’ partnership with DivInc has three core programs: (1) financial support to DivInc, (2) sustained three month, 1:1 mentorships designed to help founders achieve specific, identified strategic objectives and milestones, and (3) access to the firm’s network to assist with fundraising, recruitment and strategic introductions.
As a firm, Next Coast Ventures is committed to expanding both access to venture capital funding and opportunities for diverse entrepreneurs to participate fully in the venture capital ecosystem. Both Next Coast Ventures’ general partners, Michael Smerklo and Thomas Ball, will be founding mentors. They will be joined by our COO Jonathan Kaplan, Zaz Floreani, a Principal at the firm, and Entrepreneurs Council member Julian Castelli.
Next Coast Ventures was founded on taking our own entrepreneurial and operational experience and leveraging it to support founders and teams. That’s why our tagline is “built for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs.” To that end, we look to make a positive impact from our work with founders in DivInc’s program, and importantly, to learn from their expertise and their lived experiences. That work will be complemented by feedback from the DivInc team themselves --Preston, Monica, Brooke and the DivInc Board of Directors-- ensuring a feedback loop about how to make this collaboration more impactful for the participating entrepreneurs.
Our partnership with DivInc is one important part of the actions we are taking as a firm to address diversity, equity and inclusion. We were proud to sign the Diversity Pledge in 2019 and the Austin tech community open letter earlier this year. We could not think of a better team than DivInc to partner with to expand our DEI efforts. We encourage you to visit DivInc’s website to learn more about their tremendous work.