Introducing Circulate: Creating Better Networks for Future Founders from Black and Other Underrepresented Communities

One of the core beliefs that I had when I started Brooklyn Bridge Ventures was that most of the next 50-100 important companies to be built in New York City were going to be started by people not on most VC’s radars today.

To that end, my goal was to make the firm the most accessible VC fund in New York—showing up across diverse communities, getting rid of barriers to access like requirements for warm intros, and being conscious of which patterns of success I believe in and which only serve to reinforce certain power dynamics.

The venture capital community reacted to the racial reckoning the country experienced in June in ways I felt were pretty underwhelming—one-time pitch events for Black founders or promises to only meet with Black founders for a month.

I wanted to build something that would be above and beyond the fund that would create ongoing change, creating more Black founders as well as those from other underrepresented communities and leveling up the networks of those who had already taken the plunge.

Circulate is a new initiative supported by BBV that will start with a series of virtual conversations within an intentionally diverse group of invited guests--conversations that we hope will turn into communities. These industry-specific events will bring together a who’s who of accomplished and influential professionals as well as the most promising "future founders" from Black and other underrepresented communities that represent the next generation of these spaces.

The other day, I was telling an experienced founder in a particular vertical—someone who sold a company and IPO’d another, about what we were doing. I pointed out that since most of our networks tend to look like ourselves, that as a straight, white male I had a statistically higher chance of knowing him, another straight, white male, personally, and being able to go to him if I wanted to build something in the space he knew well for knowledge or for funding.

The Circulate series acknowledges that access to ideas, resources and networks is structurally unequal. Sparks of innovation need to be fueled by firsthand experience, connections to capital, and influence sharing. These resources are often walled off within existing professional networks that lack diversity.

That’s what we want to change with these events.

Each Circulate event will be run in coordination with industry professionals that understand structural inequality in a personal way. In September, we'll run a virtual event on Education led by former Google Classroom PM and current new founder Ope Bukola. Our second will be on Global Supply Chains and run by Brian Laung Aoaeh, Co-founder of The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation and Co-founder and General Partner of REFASHIOND Ventures. We’ll follow with events on Fintech, Climate, AI, and other sectors of innovator interest. Brooklyn Bridge Ventures will support these professionals with our event and community-building experience. Ultimately, we hope these groups will be self-sustaining and led from within, with Brooklyn Bridge Ventures acting as catalyst and supporter.

If you are a Black professional (or hacker, or a tinkerer) with a passion or even just a curiosity for change and disruption in a particular industry and would like to strengthen your network by tapping into the experience of influencers and insiders, drop us your info. We want to make sure top industry professionals are connected to "future founders" from the Black community--the builders, creators, life-long learners, and those who show entrepreneurial tendencies in their own career at any scale.

Our hope is to connect leaders with more Black future founders and industry changemakers than they know today--as well as people from other underrepresented communities--and to bring their experience and insight into this network as well.

If you’re a leader in your industry—statistically, as it is, most likely to be white, and probably male—and you would like to share your experience, your network, and your influence with underrepresented future founders and leaders, please fill out the form on our site. We would love to connect with you and have you at these events.

We appreciate you sharing this announcement in your networks!