Entrepreneur Morgan DeBaun told CNBC Thursday that if venture capitalists reformulate some aspects of their investment criteria and recognize their own prejudices, more funding can reach the black founders.
"You have to keep in mind that a lot of young black founders look a little bit different from the typical pattern, and in Silicon Valley people are often preoccupied with pattern matching," DeBaun said at CNBC's Inclusion In Action forum, which was aimed at Focusing On Actions to Improve Diversity in American Businesses.
Many in the US business community have pledged to step up efforts to eradicate racial inequality following the wave of demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this summer.
At the C-suite level, there are racial differences – only four CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, for example, are blacks – down to those who receive venture capital. According to the Transparent Collective, a nonprofit that helps minority founders, less than 1% of founders supported by VC firms are black.
DeBaun, a St. Louis native who serves as the CEO of Blavity, a media company for Black Millennials, said she falls outside the typical background of someone who may receive high investment interest.
"I'm from the Midwest. I don't have a technical degree. I didn't go to Stanford, and this was my first company, so this was my first time a founder. My pitches may have sounded different," DeBaun said. He studied political science at Washington University in St. Louis.
She co-founded Blavity in Los Angeles in 2014 after starting her tech career at Intuit a year earlier, according to LinkedIn. According to TechCrunch, Blavity has raised at least $ 11 million in venture capital to date, including from Comcast Ventures.
DeBaun said it is important to remember the opportunity that arises from working with people from different backgrounds as investors seek to evaluate black founders' pitches.
"Just to understand your own tendency to want to conform to a pattern that you are used to seeing and recognizing and accepting that you may be feeling a little uncomfortable, but this is how innovation is done – when you have the immediate opportunity and yourself leave yourself really think about it, "Wow. Maybe because this young person is standing in front of me against all odds, this is a bet I want to make," "DeBaun said.
As for the black founders considering whether to seek risk financing, DeBaun was confident and said, "This is your time."
"There has never been a better time to raise money for your business," she said. "Everyone wants to have different companies and portfolios and make sure they appeal to different audiences when it comes to the future market opportunities of this country."
Disclosure: Comcast owns CNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal.