Black Woman Tech Entrepreneur From Louisiana Defies The Odds With $35 Million Venture Capital Funding
Sevetri Wilson is not your average tech company founder. She’s a black woman, has no coding experience, no co-founders, and lives primarily in Louisiana, a state that venture capitalists obviously have a hard time finding on a map.
Most people with such a profile stand a very good chance of raising significant venture capital, as VC investors have long struggled to invest in various executives. According to TechCrunch, black founders raised $187 million in venture capital in the third quarter, just 0.43% of the total $43 billion raised in the three months ended September. The annual trend is declining. Year-to-date funding for Black founders is just over $2 billion, compared to the $4.72 billion they raised in record 2021.
Despite this, Wilson’s software startup Resilia did The company announced it had raised $35 million in a Series B venture funding round forbes. Wilson, 35, not only braved the odds, she became one of the best-funded black women founders in tech.
“Solo founders are very successful, and you can see that across the board,” said Wilson, who lives in New Orleans forbes. “But for some reason, a black solo founder can’t be successful? Make it make sense to me.”
Resilia sells software that helps nonprofits manage their operations and includes tools for staff training, board management, and donor reporting. It also allows big donors to subscribe to these tools and offer them to grant recipients. The goal is to “modernize philanthropy for nonprofits and funders,” Wilson said. Prior to Resilia, Wilson ran a consulting service for nonprofits for eight years and founded the software company to “produce and scale” some of those services using technology.
Resilia has raised nearly $50 million since its inception in 2017. The latest funding round was co-led by Panoramic Ventures and Framework Venture Partners and included participation from Mucker Capital, SoftBank Group’s SB Opportunity Fund, Goldman Sachs Asset Management Fund and Chloe Capital.
“She was on a decade-long path to impacting this nonprofit world,” said Paul Judge, a managing partner at Panoramic Ventures, an Atlanta-based company that invested $11 million in the round and generally focuses on underrepresented founders and regions concentrated. “When you uncover an existing problem that others have overlooked and you’ve decided to make it a part of your life, to excel at it, we’ve seen that at Resilia.”
Wilson said she grew up near Baton Rouge, Louisiana with three siblings and a single mother who was an assistant manager at K-Mart. Knowing early on that she had to work to find outside resources to afford college, she was able to get a full ride to Louisiana State University thanks to a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She said a retreat with this foundation helped her approach philanthropy, and she decided to enter the field as a consultant after graduating.
“I first became aware of philanthropy and the power of philanthropy when I won this award,” said Wilson.
When she founded Resilia, Wilson said she was introduced to a software engineer who helped her “wire” her vision and suggested other technical talent she could hire. Wilson raised approximately $400,000 in pre-seed funds, mostly in Louisiana, but the process became more difficult when she had to look out of state for her seed round. She eventually landed Mucker Capital — which prides itself on investing outside of Silicon Valley — as the largest investor in this roughly $2 million seed round.
Other Black women-led startups have been successful fundraisers. One of the biggest rounds was from Incredible Health, co-founded by Iman Abuzeid and Rome Portlock. The healthcare company raised $80 million in a Series B round this summer and was valued at more than $1 billion.
Jamison Hill, Managing Partner at Base10 Partners, led Incredible Health’s funding round. He said he’s proud that Abuzeid is the first black woman to found a tech unicorn and said it’s “extraordinary” that Wilson is bringing this kind of growth capital to Louisiana. He hopes their examples can help venture capital flow more easily to underrepresented founders.
“It’s a lot harder for black women to raise venture capital,” Hill said. “Besides being morally wrong in my opinion, I think it’s just a huge missed opportunity as well.”