Browse Tag

angel investing

5 mins read

Black Tech Saturdays: Empowering Detroit’s Tech Ecosystem

In the resilient and innovative city of Detroit, Black Tech Saturdays is paving the way for Black entrepreneurs and founders to succeed.

We caught up with the visionary founders Johnnie and Alexa Turnage, to learn more about their transformative initiative and its impact on the Detroit tech community.

Black tech Saturdays
Alexa Turnage (L) and Johnnie Turnage (R)

The inspiration behind Black Tech Saturdays

The journey into the world of tech can often be challenging, and for founders of color, it can feel like the odds are stacked against them. Alexa and Johnnie shared their motivation, stating, “We had to learn really fast and oftentimes felt like the spaces weren’t designed for us to succeed.” Recognizing a shared experience among many in the community, they decided to take action.

Black Tech Saturdays began organically while working on their MVP fundraising platform at Newlab in the Michigan Central building. They started inviting other tech enthusiasts to join their weekly meetings, and it soon became clear that there was untapped potential in the room. The initiative gained momentum, and when the first public meeting was announced on April 29th, 25-30 individuals showed up. From there, the movement continued to grow, evolving into what it is today.

Milestones and Accomplishments

Since its inception, Black Tech Saturdays has grown from just a handful of participants in a conference room to nearly 500 attendees on Saturdays. With approximately 3,500 unique attendees in total, the impact is undeniable.

The organization’s accomplishments extend beyond numbers. They’ve helped founders secure significant deals, connected entrepreneurs with access to capital and networks, and provided essential soft skills training.

Support from federal, state, and local governments, as well as partnerships with foundations and VC firms, have reinforced their mission. Elected officials, celebrities, and government representatives have also joined the cause, elevating the narrative around Black Tech and sharing invaluable knowledge and resources.

Hosting events like the Venture 313 2nd annual celebration and participating in national conversations about entrepreneurship advocacy have further solidified Black Tech Saturdays’ position as a driving force for change.

The Future of Detroit’s Tech Ecosystem

When asked about the future of Detroit’s tech ecosystem, Alexa was optimistic. She emphasized a shift in the narrative, with a focus on abundance, collaboration, and a movement they call “#Togetherwecan.” The culture of supporting one another and celebrating successes is key to this transformation.

Detroit is on the path to becoming a federal tech hub, opening doors to more resources for the city’s growth. By centering the innovation conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion, the city is poised to become a thriving tech hub that welcomes and empowers everyone.

Advice for Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Tech

Their advice for individuals, companies, or organizations looking to make a positive impact on diversity and inclusion in the tech industry is clear. They stress the importance of supporting entrepreneurs, building communities, and creating safe spaces for authentic growth. Addressing specific areas needing improvement within an organization is also crucial.

Johnnie and Alexa invite those interested in improving their ecosystems or organizations to reach out, as collaboration and strategic planning can help advance the mission of diversity and inclusion in tech.

Getting Involved with Black Tech Saturdays

To get involved with Black Tech Saturdays and support their mission, interested parties can explore various avenues:

  1. Sign up as a founder.
  2. Sign up as a job seeker.
  3. Sign up as a partner.
  4. Connect with Johnnie and Alexa on Linkedin.
  5. Follow Black Tech Saturdays on Instagram 

As Black Tech Saturdays continues to grow and make a significant impact in Detroit and beyond, these opportunities offer a chance to be part of a movement that’s redefining the future of tech.

by Tony O. Lawson

➡️Interested in investing in Black founders? Please complete this brief form.

4 mins read

5 Things Investors Look for Most in a Pitch

Pitching your startup to investors is a pivotal moment in the journey of any entrepreneur. It’s your opportunity to convey your vision, demonstrate your potential, and secure the financial backing you need to turn your dream into reality.

But to succeed, you must understand what investors are really looking for in a pitch. In this article, we’ll break down the five most critical elements investors pay attention to when evaluating startup pitches, supported by data and facts.

1. Compelling Problem-Solution Fit

Investors are acutely interested in the problem your startup addresses and the solution it provides. To capture their attention, your pitch should clearly define the pain point you’re targeting. According to research by CB Insights, 42% of startups fail due to a lack of market need. This underscores the importance of demonstrating a compelling problem-solution fit.

Actionable Tip: Back your claims with data and customer testimonials showcasing the demand for your solution. Highlight how your product or service is unique and more effective than existing alternatives.

2. Market Opportunity

Investors want to know that your startup operates within a sizable and growing market. They’re looking for a substantial addressable market that can support rapid growth. A study by Statista revealed that the global tech startup ecosystem was valued at over $3 trillion in 2020, emphasizing the vast opportunities available to innovative companies.

Actionable Tip: Utilize market research to validate the market size, trends, and your potential share of it. Investors want to see that you’ve thoroughly analyzed your market and understand where your startup fits in.

3. Strong Business Model

Your pitch must present a clear and sustainable business model. Investors are keen to know how your startup plans to generate revenue and eventually become profitable. According to Crunchbase, 29% of startups fail because they run out of cash, emphasizing the importance of a robust business model.

Actionable Tip: Provide detailed financial projections and explain your path to profitability. Highlight your monetization strategy, pricing model, and customer acquisition plan.

4. Traction and Milestones

Investors seek evidence that your startup is gaining traction and achieving milestones. Metrics such as user acquisition, revenue growth, and partnerships are essential indicators of progress. According to PitchBook, startups that secure funding typically have a median of two years of operation and have raised around $1.3 million before their initial funding round.

Actionable Tip: Showcase your key performance indicators (KPIs) and growth trajectory. Highlight any noteworthy achievements or partnerships that demonstrate your startup’s potential for success.

5. Strong Team

Investors often say they invest in people, not just ideas. Your team’s expertise, experience, and commitment are critical factors in the investment decision. A Harvard Business Review study found that startups founded by teams with complementary skills are more likely to succeed.

Actionable Tip: Introduce your team and emphasize their relevant expertise. Highlight their past accomplishments and how they are uniquely positioned to execute your startup’s vision.

SBLK Ventures is committed to connecting Black-led startups with our network of investors. If you are a startup that is raising capital, we invite you to fill out this form to be considered.

4 mins read

The Importance of Angel Investors in Bridging the Funding Gap for Black Founders

The startup ecosystem can often be a challenging space for Black founders to navigate. Overall, Black entrepreneurs typically receive less than 2% of all VC dollars each year while companies led by Black women receive less than 1%, according to data from Crunchbase. This is a stark contrast to the fact that Black Americans make up nearly 13% of the U.S. population.

One of the reasons for this disparity is the lack of access to funding. Angel investors can be an important alternative source of capital for Black founders, helping to level the playing field and create more opportunities for success.

Access to Capital

One of the main reasons that angel investors are important for Black founders is that they provide access to capital that may not be available through traditional funding channels. Banks and other financial institutions are often hesitant to lend money to startup founders, especially those who are just starting out.

This is particularly true for Black founders who may not have the same networks or connections as their white counterparts. Angel investors, on the other hand, are often more willing to take a chance on a new business idea and are willing to provide the funding needed to get the business off the ground.


In addition to providing access to funding, angel investors can also offer valuable expertise and mentorship. Many angel investors are experienced entrepreneurs themselves, with a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that come with starting a new business.

They can provide guidance on everything from business strategy to fundraising to marketing and sales. For Black founders who may not have access to the same networks and resources as their white counterparts, this mentorship can be incredibly valuable.

Overcoming bias

Another benefit of working with angel investors is that they can help Black founders overcome some of the biases and barriers that exist within the traditional funding ecosystem. Unfortunately, many investors have unconscious biases that can affect their investment decisions.

This can make it difficult for Black founders to secure funding, even if they have a great business idea. Angel investors, on the other hand, may be more open-minded and willing to invest in a diverse range of founders and ideas. This can help Black founders overcome some of the systemic barriers that exist within the startup ecosystem.

Building networks

Finally, working with angel investors can help Black founders build important connections and networks within the startup ecosystem. Many angel investors are well-connected within the industry and can introduce founders to other investors, mentors, and potential customers.

This can be especially valuable for Black founders who may not have access to the same networks and resources as their white counterparts. By building these connections, Black founders can increase their chances of success and create more opportunities for themselves and their businesses.

Overall, angel investors can be an important alternative source of capital for Black founders. By providing access to funding, expertise, mentorship, and networks, they can help level the playing field and create more opportunities for success.

As more Black founders enter the startup ecosystem, it’s important that they have access to the resources they need to thrive. Angel investors can play a key role in making this happen.

Interested in investing in Black founders? If so, please complete this brief form.

2 mins read

5 Exit Strategies For Angel Investors

Exit strategies for angel investors refer to the methods by which an angel investor can sell their stake in a startup company and realize a return on their investment.

There are several common exit strategies for angel investors, including:

1. Initial Public Offering (IPO)

In an IPO, a company issues shares of stock to the public for the first time. This can provide a big payout for angel investors, but it’s a relatively rare exit strategy for a startup.

2. Acquisition

When a larger company buys a startup, angel investors can cash out their shares. This can be an attractive exit strategy because it provides a quick return on investment and eliminates the risk of the startup failing.

3. Secondary Market

Angel investors can also sell their shares on a secondary market. This can include private exchanges or online platforms that facilitate the buying and selling of shares in private companies.

4. Recapitalization

This is when a company raises new capital by issuing new shares of stock, diluting the existing shareholders. This can be a good option for angel investors to cash out their investment and have a return.

5. Hold

Some angel investors may choose to hold their shares in a company for a longer period, in the hope that the company will grow and the value of their shares will increase.

Ultimately, the best exit strategy for an angel investor will depend on the specific circumstances of the startup and the investor’s own goals and risk tolerance.

It’s important for angel investors to consider their exit options early on and communicate with the startup’s management team to ensure a smooth exit when the time comes.

Additionally, angel investors should be aware of the tax implications of their exit strategy. Some strategies may result in capital gains taxes, while others may qualify for more favorable tax treatment. It is always recommended to consult with a tax professional to understand the tax implications of different exit strategies.

Interested in investing in Black founders? If so, please complete this brief form.

2 mins read

5 Ways To Evaluate a Startup Investment Opportunity

Conducting due diligence on a startup investment opportunity is a crucial step in the angel investing process.

By following these steps, you can make a more informed decision on whether to invest in a startup and minimize your risk as an investor.

Step 1: Research the Industry and Market

Analyzing the market and industry in which a startup operates is the first step in evaluating an investment opportunity.  This entails understanding the market’s size and potential for expansion as well as the major players and current trends in the sector. It’s critical to identify any obstacles or difficulties that the startup may encounter in the future.

Step 2: Assess the Business Model

After you’ve thoroughly researched the industry and market, the next is to assess the startup’s business model. Understanding the startup’s revenue streams, target customer base, and unique value proposition are all part of this. It is essential to determine whether the startup’s business model is long-term sustainable and scalable.

Step 3: Analyze the Financials

The next step is to review the startup’s financial statements, which include the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. This will give you an idea of the revenue, expenses, and profitability of the startup. It is critical to determine whether the startup has a positive cash flow and a viable path to profitability.

Step 4: Evaluate the Team

Another important aspect to consider is the startup’s team. This includes assessing the experience, skills, and track record of the management team, as well as the overall culture and dynamics within the company. It’s important to evaluate whether the team has the ability and drive to execute on their business plan and achieve their goals.

Step 5: Assess the Valuation

Finally, it’s important to assess the startup’s valuation. This includes evaluating the startup’s current funding round and the terms of the investment, as well as the startup’s valuation in comparison to other similar companies in the industry. It’s important to ensure that the valuation is reasonable and in line with industry standards.

by Tony O. Lawson

Interested in investing in Black founders? If so, please complete this brief form.

5 mins read

Angel Investing 101: A Guide to Startup Investing

In this article, we will be exploring the world of angel investing, a type of financing where individuals invest their own money into early-stage companies.

If you are new to the concept of angel investing, or if you are simply looking to learn more about this exciting and potentially lucrative area of the financial market, then this article is for you.

Angel Investing 101

Angel investing entails investing your own funds in a startup in exchange for equity in the business. Angel investors come from a variety of backgrounds and often invest during the early stages of a company’s development.

Often, these businesses have no customers or revenue. They may only have a good business plan, have finished a beta test, or have built a “minimum viable product.” An angel investor’s money is often used for research and development, to help the company figure out what products and services to offer, to come up with a business plan, or to figure out who their target market is.

Angel investors can work independently, as a team in an angel network, or through intermediaries like equity crowdfunding platforms and syndicates.

Historically, angel investors have been wealthy individuals who contributed funds directly from their own wealth, as opposed to a venture fund or institution. Angel investing was primarily conducted through direct relationships between private investors and startups for the majority of its existence. Non-accredited investors were excluded from these opportunities.

However, angel investing has evolved over time to include third parties such as equity crowdfunding platforms. This is an exciting development for both founders and potential investors, as it expands the pool of potential investors who have the capital to deploy but are not accredited.

It’s a win-win situation, as startups now have access to a larger pool of investors, and everyday investors now have access to potentially lucrative startup investment opportunities that were previously reserved only for the wealthy.

How to Become an Angel Investor

Usually, meeting the standards of being an accredited investor is a prerequisite for becoming an angel investor.

Accredited investors must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Individual income exceeding $200k for each of the past two years with a reasonable expectation that the $200k threshold will be reached in the current year
  • Joint income with a spouse exceeding $300k for each of the past two years with a reasonable expectation that the $300k threshold will be reached in the current year
  • Personal net worth (excluding the value of a primary residence) exceeding $1M
  • Hold in good standing a Series 7, 65 or 82 license

Due to changes in securities law, however, non-accredited investors (the vast majority of Americans) are now allowed to legally invest alongside accredited investors under certain guidelines.

For example, both accredited and non-accredited investors can invest in private businesses through equity crowdfunding platforms.

Know how to find deals

Many angel investors already have a network of startup founders and entrepreneurs.  Since they communicate with these individuals often, they sometimes hear about startups and can find deals to consider.

If you don’t have access to this kind of network, you can contact a startup founder directly if you find a company with an interesting new business idea that you’d like to learn more about and possibly invest in.

You can also find deals by joining an angel group. This gives you access to a group of angel investors who assess and invest in startups together.

Choosing which startups to invest in

Before investing your hard-earned money, you must do your homework or “due diligence”. This is the process of conducting research on an investment opportunity to determine its potential. Due diligence enables investors to make more informed investment decisions, mitigate risk, and uncover additional valuable information about a company’s chances of success.

Since most startups fail, investors must do thorough and objective research on any startup they might want to invest in to make sure they fully understand the risks and benefits and weigh them against each other.

Angel investing is risky, but potential high returns and satisfaction from nurturing a startup can make it worthwhile.

Interested in investing in Black founders? If so, please complete this brief form.