Catalysts for Change
At 500 Global, we realize that talent is everywhere, though opportunity is not. We value diversity and we strive to support and propel others who are on a mission to uplift people and economies around the world through entrepreneurship.
Since the beginning of the VC Unlocked: Silicon Valley program in 2015, 500 Global has been committed to increasing the number of diverse investors. To date, we have granted 50+ scholarships to up-and-coming emerging fund managers. We are excited to continue this legacy of supporting underserved and underrepresented investors.
The VC Unlocked: Silicon Valley 2022 Diversity Scholarship recipients are already catalysts for change. Hear about the the experiences and impact of the program from last years scholarship winners in their own words:
Dr. Surabhi Gupta
Dr. Surabhi Gupta serves as Manager at Invest India, a flagship initiative of the Government of India intended to build a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation and startups in the country, where a significant part of her daily work focuses on removing structural barriers for underrepresented entrepreneurs.
“It took me a month to process and stitch together all the information that I had learned in this two-week program. My first day at the program was nothing less than being in awe of the super talented and diverse cohort from across the globe. And at the same time, the impressive curriculum design and line-up of faculties and guest instructors left me thanking my stars.
Top 10 key takeaways from the program:
- Always ask yourself, what is your sustainable competitive advantage?
- Choosing your investment thesis carefully is important, but adhering to it is all the more important
- Do not forget THE economics, including the power law dynamics, market, portfolio, and fund age
- Be open to new sectors: DAOs and cryptocurrencies
- Playing safe will not always work out, there will be times when you’ll need to take higher risks and invest bigger
- Don’t focus only on returns, as an investor your job is also to take off the noise and calm the startups with answers/deals they are looking for, which takes time
- Consistency and only consistency is the key
- Sometimes it’s the people and team you are investing in
- You JUMP at the opportunity. How do we know if it’s a good opportunity or not? You KEEP JUMPING!!!”
- Having a reasonable term sheet that aligns the interest of all stakeholders in order to achieve the best results is crucial
And if you are a new bee in the world of VC investment, worry not, this program will not make you feel like an outsider. This program surpassed all my expectations and has already helped me propel my VC journey.”
Shalanda Armstrong recently co-founded 100KM Ventures. 100KM Ventures, is a fund focused on supporting early-stage companies in the deeptech, femtech, future of work, and e-commerce verticals that have management teams that reflect their diverse customer base.
“Starting a fund will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but it can be done. It’ll take extreme discipline, unwavering resilience, and a great network to support you through the journey. The first two require your own personal reflection to get there; however, on the great network I can give you a heads up on where to start — 500 Global’s VC Unlocked. VC Unlocked is where you really dig into what it takes to be a fund manager. You will be surrounded by a world-class team of fund managers, investors, and administrators to help you navigate what it takes to build an institution of funds, not only Fund I. VC Unlocked is designed to really help you understand the nuances in VC .
VC Unlocked was a one-of-a-kind experience for emerging managers that not only expanded my network across the US, but across the world. The relationships and connections built during those intense two weeks will have a longer life than the average Silicon Valley VC firm.”
Todd Johnson is an experienced angel investor and fintech operator with a vision to launch his own fund to bridge the fundraising knowledge gap and to provide access to smart capital to entrepreneurs in overlooked regions and communities within the United States.
“Combining the knowledge and experience of program administrators and the executional rigor of the programming team has resulted in the creation of a world class learning ground that helps catapult dozens of career investors and angels to the next level in their respective regions around the world. While simultaneously weaving together a global network of connected investors and startup ecosystem builders.
As an active angel investor, coming into the program I had a good grasp on venture investing in general but was blown away by how in-depth we covered such a wide range of concepts. The team and guest speakers were dedicated to ensuring participants left the program with a deep understanding of commonly covered, obvious concepts and less obvious, often overlooked concepts.”
Ahmed Elmurtada is supporting early stage, tech-enabled, underrepresented founders in East Africa, particularly Sudan. Ahmed has been promoting tech and entrepreneurial activities among Sudanese youth since 2013 and is committed to fostering entrepreneurship and building global networks with leading ecosystems.
“The program was a great learning experience with an impressive group of emerging & leading fund managers from all over the world. We were able to learn while building synergies between our ecosystems. Here are some of my insights and the learnings from this experience at VC Unlocked:
You learn from the best.
- Coming from Sudan, emerging markets were our focus area for investments and where we believed we could add value. 500 Global has expertise in these regions with their funds in Saudi and South East Asia. This allowed for a unique learning experience during the program. 500 Global shared knowledge from their experiences in Latin America, South-east Asia, Africa in addition to Silicon valley
It is a people business. Make friends not contacts.
- The network I was exposed to during the program was amazing. Our class had 47 fund managers & VCs from over 22 countries with the majority of participants coming from outside the U.S.
Being a GP is interesting yet challenging.
- It is a shared feeling how challenging it can be to manage funds, investors and source deals, especially in Sudan. I believe having a growth mindset is important in order to survive and thrive in such an environment, to keep pushing the limits and continuously learn with every entrepreneur that we meet.
This experience has been an outstanding opportunity to network with impressive VCs and individuals and build lifetime friends globally.”
In 2023, we are proud to once again offer 4 Diversity Scholarships to provide opportunity to participants from historically underrepresented groups. We are especially focused on supporting Women & People of Color who are working with underrepresented founders.
Scholarship winners will be chosen by our Scholarship Committee composed of VC Unlocked Alumni, 500 Global, and SCPD members from diverse backgrounds. This committee will be responsible for selecting the VC Unlocked: Silicon Valley scholarship finalists for our 2023 program.
Learn more about our diversity scholarship application.