A social activist and an entrepreneur remake the future of investing and business, offering a win-win road map for creating wealth and addressing inequalities by investing in groundbreaking tech companies that defy assumptions from Silicon Valley to Wall Street.
Companies backed by venture capital drive the U.S. economy, accounting for hundreds of billions of dollars in sales and profits. The problem is that most of the wealth created winds up enriching elites, while the businesses funded by venture capitalists widen economic inequality. Committed to doing things differently, tech venture capitalists Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor launched Kapor Capital to prove that investing in gap-closing startups—companies whose services or products close opportunity gaps for both communities of color and low-income communities—is good business. Over the past decade, they’ve broadened the definition of success to include profits and accountability for the impacts a business has on employees, communities, and the planet, helping to launch close to two hundred companies engaged in achieving social and economic justice while showing remarkable growth, with many valued in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.
Like every VC firm, Kapor Capital has experienced high-profile blowups and total losses. But its investing principles have created a stunning new ecosystem of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, CEOs, and investors, all devising innovative, effective solutions to address the most pernicious problems afflicting many of America’s poorest communities. In Closing the Equity Gap, Freada and Mitch share their core belief that all companies must make a positive impact and that the obstacles entrepreneurs overcome in life are a far better predictor of long-term success than the schools they attend or investment dollars they raise from friends and family.
Using stories behind some of the most remarkable companies ever launched, they show that the standard investment model doesn’t work, how it can be fixed, and what the future could look like if more investors joined them.
About our Speakers:
Freada Kapor Klein is an entrepreneur and activist focused on organizational culture and diversity. She co-founded the first organization in the U.S. to address sexual harassment in 1976, and SMASH.org in 2003, which provides the resources and support to ensure that underrepresented students of color thrive in STEM fields. As a Partner at Kapor Capital, Freada invests in seed stage tech startups that create positive social outcomes. She is Co-Chair at the Kapor Center, which strives to make the technology ecosystem and entrepreneurship diverse and inclusive. Freada serves on startup and non-profit boards including the NAACP National Board of Directors. Freada and her husband, Mitch Kapor, are co-authors of Closing the Equity Gap, which identifies how to create wealth while simultaneously addressing the inequalities in startup investing.
Mitch Kapor has been a pioneer of the information technology industry for the past five decades. He is most widely known as the founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet, the “killer app” that made the IBM Personal Computer ubiquitous in the business world in the 1980’s. He was the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the founding Chair of the Mozilla Foundation. As a Partner at Kapor Capital, he invests in seed stage tech startups closing gaps of access, opportunity, or outcome for low-income communities and communities of color. Mitch and Freada, are co-authors of Closing the Equity Gap, which identifies how to create wealth while simultaneously addressing the inequalities in startup investing.
About our Moderator:
Dr. Sonia Kang holds the Canada Research Chair in Identity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and is a Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management at the University of Toronto, where she is also a Faculty Research Fellow at the Rotman School of Management’s Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) and Chief Scientist, Organizations in the Behavioural Economics in Action Research Centre at Rotman (BEAR). Sonia is also Special Advisor on Anti-Racism & Equity at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Sonia earned a B.Sc. (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Alberta, an M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and completed a SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Northwestern University.
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