Indianapolis-based venture capital (VC) firm Sixty8 Capital announced the first close of its new $20 million venture fund. Sixty8 Capital supports Black, Latinx, women and LGBTQ+ led startups and will invest in 25 to 30 pre-seed and seed-stage companies with initial equity checks of $250,000 to $500,000 per company. Additional funds will be reserved for follow-on rounds. Sixty8 Capital will target undercapitalized founders and innovators who often don’t receive funds for their businesses.
“We believe there is an opportunity to truly level the playing field when it comes to capital access for diverse founders in any industry, said Kelli Jones, Sixty8 Capital’s managing director and the first-ever Black, female VC in the state of Indiana. “There is a $4 trillion missed opportunity when we don’t put a focus on diverse founders. Venture capital has a significant opportunity to change the trajectory of SMBs and microenterprises by helping them build products and services that utilize tech and have the opportunity to scale.”
Founder outreach is integral to the fund’s strategy, Jones said.
“We have to help lift the veil on how these founders can connect with VCs,” she said. “Even if we don’t invest now, we can still listen. We can give them feedback on their pitch. Some of them have been bootstrapping for two or three years, trying to start a company while working full-time jobs. Some of them are even turning a profit. Maybe they’re not quite ready to fundraise, but we can help them get there. Or maybe now is the right time for Sixty8 Capital to invest, and that founder will have the chance to show everyone how far they can take their idea, regardless of whether it’s in SaaS, media, CPG, or ecommerce. We want to find the diverse founders that traditional VCs are overlooking.”
Investors include The Indiana Next Level Fund, 50 South Capital, Bank of America, Eli Lilly and Company, First Internet Bank and the Central Indiana Community Foundation.
Lilly’s investment falls in line with its Racial Justice Initiative, which focuses on health care access, supplier diversity and jobs.
“We are excited to support Sixty8 Capital on its mission to uplift underrepresented founders and innovators,” said Philip Johnson, senior vice president and treasurer, Eli Lilly and Company. “Diverse and historically underrepresented founders struggle to obtain capital to form and build their businesses. Lilly’s investment in Sixty8 Capital is representative of our broader efforts to use our financial and human capital to create lasting change that makes life better for people in the communities we serve.”
The name Sixty8 Capital has historic significance as 1968 was a watershed year in the Civil Rights Movement.
Sixty8 Capital is actively seeking interest from Black, Latinx, women and LGBTQ+ founders, with an emphasis on startups in the Midwest. Learn more at sixty8.capital.