Originally posted Monday, September 23, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Venture capital has been a boy’s game for decades and centered in places such as New York and Silicon Valley.
So Atlanta serial entrepreneur Arian Simone and actress/businesswoman Keshia Knight Pulliam (best known as Rudy on "The Cosby Show") have launched a $5 million Fearless Fund to invest exclusively in early-stage businesses run by women of color.
They have already put money into businesses such financing platform EnrichHer and Activvely, a fitness mobile app. They plan to invest in about 20 to 25 different businesses.
“African-American women have the hardest time accessing funding that’s needed to really grow a business,” said Pulliam, the youngest actor ever to get nominated for an Emmy. “We wanted to pool our resources and use our networks to help move the needle in this area.”
While this fund will hopefully provide its limited partners a nice return on investment, they expect to create more funds down the road.
Simone and Pulliam are sorority sisters and friends for many years. “It’s a natural fit,” Simone said. “We both have our own businesses and have worked before in business together. We come from a stock of women who firmly believe we are here to support and uplift each other not just in life but empowering each other in business.”
Simone has owned a retail store, a nail salon and an entertainment marketing firm.
Pulliam has been working since she was nine month sold. Besides "The Cosby Show," she starred in "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" on TBS. She had her own podcast until last year called Kandidly Keshia. She has a spice line. She runs a non-profit Kamp Kizzy. She has been on both "Celebrity Apprentice" and "Celebrity Big Brother. She starred last year in a Lifetime movie.
They said they have built a strong team of investment advisors and are “industry agnostic,” meaning they are seeking companies of all stripes owned and run by black women.
In a related story, "Real Housewives of Atlanta" friend Tanya Sam, who works with venture capital firm TechSquare Labs, has a pitch competition coming up October 10.
She just started her own Ambition Fund to invest in women and minority entrepreneurs and she plans to hand out $25,000 to the company with the best pitch next month before a "Shark Tank"-style panel of judges.
“For me, if we don’t embrace and represent the future in technology for women and under-represented minorities, we are losing out as a society,” she said.
Sam was a fun added presence on “Real Housewives” last year but there was no focus on her work. As a “friend,” she was there really to supplement and help out the main cast members. She got to go on some nice trips and make good friends.
“There will be fireworks this season,” Sam said. “I’m surprised by some of the fireworks. I might have even lit one or two myself.”