In this week’s episode of The Room Podcast, Madison and Claudia sit down with Sydney Sykes, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of BLCK VC. Founded in 2018, BLCK VC empowers and advances black venture investors by providing a focus community built for and by black venture investors. Out of Harvard undergrad, Sydney joined New Enterprise Associates as an investment analyst before moving on to e-commerce planning with Dolls Kill. Today, Sydney is also studying at Stanford GSB for her MBA.
This week’s key themes and insights include solving the problems you see in the world, the future of direct-to-consumer investing, and the integral role of a unique perspective and driving innovation. Let’s open the door.
Season 4 of The Room Podcast is sponsored by our friends at SVB and Cooley. Learn more about SVB’s Access to Innovation initiative here.
Key Theme 1: Solving the problems you see in the world
Blck VC is evidence that you have the ability to solve the problems you see in the world. Sydney took her lived experience and passion for building a better tomorrow into action. This passion to unlock more equity in who’s represented in venture led her to create her non-profit. Whether you’re thinking of starting a non-profit or a for-profit business that solves something you deeply believe should change; Sydney reminds us that you are empowered to build for that future.
Key Theme 2: Direct-to-consumer Brands and their Evolution
Having spent time in operations at Dolls Kill, a venture-backed DTC brand, Sydney has unique insights into the future of e-commerce. As an investor, Sydney is compelled by brands who are taking a more differentiated approach to finding and cultivating community with their customers. She specifically is interested if they’re providing a product or service that no one else is offering. Two driving questions Sydney shared when it comes to investing in DTC are What's different about what I'm building? Why is this going to take off in a way that works for venture capital?
Key Theme 3: The integral role of a unique perspective and driving innovation
Sydney believes the venture capital industry’s growth is dependent on unique perspectives and new ideas.
“If a venture capital firm continues to have the same perspectives for long periods of time, or doesn't bring in new networks or doesn't bring in something that gives them a competitive advantage, that firm will fall behind.”
She gives the example that lack of diversity in a firm leads to a massive ecosystem gap. Without any black investors, firms are missing 15% of consumers as well as the inability to relate to and fully understand some of their founders.
Thank you to Sydney for joining us in The Room! We will be back next week with a new episode on Tuesday, Aug. 31 at 7AM PST.
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