In our first installment of our Black Women Game Changers in Tech Series, we featured Digitalundivided founder Kathryn Finney, one of the first Black women bloggers to have had a presence online.
In this second installment, we feature Monique Woodard. She is the co-founder of Black Founders, a national community of entrepreneurs whose mission is to increase the number of successful black entrepreneurs in tech. When I interviewed her a year ago for an article that appeared in The Network Journal, she was working at 500 Startups investing in early-stage black and Latino startups and leading a $25M micro-fund for black and Latino entrepreneurs.
A 15-year veteran of e-commerce, consumer and civic tech, Woodard is noted for being one of the first innovation fellows for the city of San Francisco and has helped implement tech into the workforce in various cities.
In 2018, Woodard spoke at the Startup Summit in Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, we learn why she’s a game changer in tech.
Willoughby: What’s great about working in the venture capital space?
Woodard: Having access to so many great founders with really good ideas. You end up meeting people who are the smartest and the most driven at creating something that changes the world, hopefully. Being able to help them realize that is amazing. There are also all of the investors you get to do deals with and get to know on a
Willoughby: What factors do you consider when investing in companies?
Woodard: I look broadly across many tech categories, but I do have a thesis around companies, which is that the U.S. is changing in some very dramatic demographic shifts, and that is making a lot of communities very important, such as Black and Latino communities. And because the U.S. is on track to becoming majority-minority by 2044, and 37 percent of those people will be Black and Latino, that points to a really big opportunity for technology and for founders. So, if you look at the ways that Black and Latino users consume technology, you can see some market differences. I look for companies that are working in areas where I see them taking advantage of that change.
Willoughby: If you could, what would you change about the tech space?
Woodard: I would make it more inclusive. There are great people with great ideas who are not from Stanford or Harvard and don’t get the opportunity to be in a room with a venture capitalist and see ideas come to light. That’s something the world misses out on, based on people’s access to be in that room. There are people of color, women, and especially people from different economic backgrounds, who have a perspective and problems that they see, but no one else sees. They have ways of solving problems that no one else can think of. So, it’s important to get the full participation of everyone in this innovation economy.