Last summer, following the murder of George Floyd, Best Buy pledged to “do better”When it came to supporting communities of color. As part of the retail giant’s self-proclaimed mission to better tackle technological under-representation and inequality, the company today announced it is investing up to $ 10 million in Brown business group.
Brown Venture Group, based in Minnesota, is a three-year venture capital firm committed to exclusively supporting Black, Latino and Native tech startups in “emerging technologies.” Black and Latin communities were the recipients of only 2.6% of total funding in 2020, according to data from Crunchbase.
Brown Venture Group is in the process of raising funds for its targeted inaugural fund of $ 50 million, of which 75% were engaged, according to its constituents. This means that Minneapolis-based Best Buy’s promise to invest “up to $ 10 million” could represent up to 20% of the total capital raised, making it a top LP in the fund.
Brown Venture Group co-founder and managing partner Dr Paul Campbell said that early in the creation of the company he and co-founder Dr Chris Brooks were told by “several people locally” that they were ‘they should leave the Twin Cities metropolitan area. because “the whole capital was on the coasts”.
“We just made a firm decision early on to stay in the Twin Cities and we wanted it to be a Twin City story,” Campbell told TechCrunch. “So when we thought about our Twin Cities ecosystem and who we wanted to be top partners with, Best Buy was at the top of the list. We are therefore more than happy to have Best Buy as the lead LP in our fund. ”
For its part, Best Buy – which $ 47 billion in sales last year – said the move was intended to help “remove the systemic barriers often encountered by black, indigenous and color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs – including lack of access to finance – and empower the next generation within the tech industry.“
The company added, “The partnership with Brown Venture Group will aim to make the tech startup landscape more inclusive and create a stronger community of diverse vendors. “
Along with the announcement of Best Buy’s commitment to the fund, the company and the venture capitalist announced that they will jointly launch an entrepreneurship program at Best Buy Teen Tech Centers to help develop young people. entrepreneurs through education, mentoring, networking and access to finance.
Brown Venture Group – whose name was chosen to represent an “inclusive” skin color of the groups it represents – has signed letters of intent with five holding companies led by BIPOC and is leading the initial investment cycle for Ecolution.
Ten million dollars seems like a drop in the bucket for a company that generated $ 47 billion in revenue last year. Best Buy said this initiative is just one of many initiatives underway to support BIPOC companies, including plans to provide $ 44 million expand university preparation and career opportunities for BIPOC students and commit to spending at least $ 1.2 billion with BIPOC and various companies by 2025. The company also said that by 2025 it will fill one of three new non-hourly company positions with BIPOC employees and hire 1,000 new employees to its tech team, 30% of whom are diverse, especially Blacks, Latinxes, Native people, and women.
“We are committed to taking meaningful steps to address the challenges faced by entrepreneurs at BIPOC,” said Corie Barry, CEO of Best Buy, in a written statement. “Through partnerships like this, we believe we can begin to do this by helping to create a stronger and more vibrant community of diverse innovators in the tech industry, some of whom we hope will will become partners of Best Buy in the future. “