Introducing: Overlooked Ventures

Founding partners: Janine Sickmeyer & Brandon Brooks (photo by Megan Leigh Barnard)

In 2020 alone, only 2.3% of all venture capital went to women founders and less than 1.0% to startups with a Black founder.

That year, I met with thousands of founders, just like me, who had ambition and grit but no connections. Founders shared demos of impressive products, revenue numbers, and customer testimonials but had no wealthy family safety net to help the business grow. I made angel investments in nine companies through Let’s Start Up Ventures with systematically marginalized founders but knew that if I wanted to make a bigger impact in the startup ecosystem as a whole, I had to think bigger.

The Overlooked Journey

Overlooked Ventures is a venture capital firm focused on supporting and investing in early-stage companies with one or more historically ignored founders and provide them with capital, resources, and connections to scale their business. Filed as 506(c), Overlooked Ventures Fund I is $50MM pre-seed/seed-stage fund investing in 80–100 industry-agnostic startups in tech, tech-enabled, and D2C, with check sizes between $150–250K.

Overlooked Ventures Intro Video Created by: Ghost Label Video

Why overlooked?

We’ve all seen the stats. Morgan Stanley says venture capitalists are leaving more than $4 trillion on the table by not investing in diverse founders. But according to a recent Kauffman Fellows study, companies with diverse founders actually perform 30% better.

  • Only 2.3% of women founders received venture funding in 2020 (HBR)
  • Investment in women founders dropped by 22% in 2020 (Crunchbase)
  • Only 0.67% of Black founders received funding in 2020 (Crunchbase)
  • Only 0.27% of total funding went to Black women and 0.37% went to Latinas in 2020 (ProjectDiane)
Sources: Crunchbase, ProjectDiane, HBR, AllRaise

Diverse funders will fund diverse founders

A diversity report by West River Group says that diverse founding teams create more innovation and better business outcomes resulting in higher performance over the long-term. But not only does the founding team matter, you also have to look at the venture investing team. Diverse fund managers tend to invest in diverse teams. In fact, this 2020 report shows that firms with a woman partner had 9.7% more profitable exits and 20% higher net IRR in the global emerging markets.

To change the game, we have to fight the odds and fund systemically marginalized founders when they need it most — from day one.

This is why we’ve been intentional about selecting our advisors, all of whom have aligned mission and values to ours. We’re also intentional about who we will be bringing in as LPs, and who we fund. This purposeful belief is part of our Overlooked Advantage

The Overlooked Advantage

We roll-up-our-sleeves. As successful bootstrapped founders ourselves, Brandon and I know what it takes to get on the ground and work for founders.

We’re just getting started

If you’re an LP who wants to be a pioneer on this journey with us, apply here and visit our site at overlookedventures.com to learn more about who we are and our mission.

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Janine Sickmeyer

Janine Sickmeyer

Founding Partner at Overlooked Ventures