How My VC Journey Led Me to Start VC Unleashed, a National Community of BIPOC MBA Investors

MichelleisVC.eth
3 min readSep 15, 2021

Breaking into VC has been a lonely road and uphill battle.

To paint a picture of my experience — in my 2022 class at Columbia Business School of 600+ students, there was only one Latinx and one Black student pursuing venture. Even with my experience founding and growing a company and working in VC and at an angel group before business school, I soon realized that I was still at a deficit when it came to adequately navigate the VC landscape as a Columbia MBA student. I felt lost and underprepared.

The VC communities that existed for MBA students felt exclusive, closed knit, and homogenous (most of the students of color you ask will confirm this). They didn’t feel like the rich, diverse communities that I had grown up in where resource and knowledge sharing were fundamental.

In my journey, I worked extremely hard to find allies and advocates that would share industry insight in preparation for VC interviews, instruct me on how to write an investment thesis, and would be willing to vouch for me during my interview process.

IT WAS HARD, AND IT WAS LONELY.

One day after landing my summer internship with Primary Ventures, I was venting with two of my friends Tiq Chapa (Booth) and Saphir Esmail (Wharton) about how lonely everything had been and how I was scared that I wouldn’t have a community to lean into when things started to pick up at work.

That fear and understanding that I’m not the only one with these feelings compounded with my entrepreneurial nature allowed me to identify something that would be of great use to the hundreds of individuals facing these same fears and feelings. I asked Tiq and Saphir, “Would you join a group chat for BIPOC investors?”

And that sparked the creation of VC Unleashed, a community that has grown to over 250 MBA aspiring investors from across the country sharing technical and industry knowledge.

In our time together we have:

· Shared deal flow

· Supported each other with industry insight for company diligence

· Shared employment and internship opportunities

· Met in-person for happy hours in NYC, SF, Philly, Chicago, and DC

· Launched the “Fintech Breakdown” speaking with top VC investors from a16z and Bessemer Venture Partners. See below one of our graphics!

The demand to join the VC Unleased community has surpassed our wildest expectations, and this summer, we hit a significant growth benchmark. WhatsApp’s group limit is 256 participates, and in three months, we’ve outgrown this platform. VC Unleashed’s incredible growth is market validation that there has been an unmet need for a community for BIPOC investors and founders to connect.

I write this blog post to share that we have now entered our next stage of growth and have moved to a new platform called Geneva to ensure that we are increasing access to our community. This could not have been possible without the VC Unleashed’s brilliant leadership of Tanvi Lal at Berkely Haas, Tiq Chapa at Booth and Fuad Ligali at UCLA Anderson.

We are a living breathing community that strives to ensure that we provide as much value while beta testing ways to best serve our members. Currently, the VC Unleashed community is only accessible to BIPOC MBA students but as we grow and strengthen, it will become accessible to the larger professional BIPOC community.

Join us and help us build the future of venture capital!

Link to join: https://links.geneva.com/invite/6d78e8d8-d684-4d1f-9403-cd24186baf58

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MichelleisVC.eth

NYC-based, Columbia MBA, Founder, Latina obsessed with entrepreneurship and all things VC