Arkansas’ first and only Black-led venture capital firm, High Street Equity Partners, announced Aug. 22 an inaugural fund of $15 million to be invested in tech-driven companies run by female and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs, both in Arkansas and around the heartland, helping those who are badly underrepresented in venture capital funding, both demographically and geographically.
Despite being the fastest growing demographic of both entrepreneurs and consumers, women receive only 3% of venture capital funding nationally. BIPOC founders currently receive even less as a group, at only 2%. This dynamic is further compounded by the fact that almost 90% of venture capital in the nation is absorbed by entrepreneurs living in just five states along the coast, leaving very little margin for growth for those in Arkansas. As High Street sees it, these overlooked entrepreneurs represent missed opportunities.
“The mission of High Street is to create value with more than capital, “High Street General Partner Tristan Wilkerson said. “Historic High Street was the center culture and marketplace in the state’s largest city before it was renamed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in honor of the iconic civil rights leader. The company name is a homage to the vision and goal of the firm to invest in bringing the everyday economy into the 21st century – creating space and place for people to live, work, and thrive.”
As part of the inaugural fund, High Point has already made investments in Happied, an enterprise software company focused on employee wellness and retention through engaging corporate events, and ChargerHelp, a leading technology utility company and job creator in the emerging field of electric vehicles.
“We’re excited to invest in Happied and we align with our shared beliefs around the future of work,” High Street General Partner, Mitch Brooks, said. “We believe in April’s vision and this amazing all women-led leadership team ran a $1mm+ profitable business before taking in outside capital. It speaks to their grit and business acumen. Our capital will help them to grow their business.”
High Street Equity Partners is actively connecting with entrepreneurial support organizations across the heartland and engaging with locally based younger institutions and individuals in upstart business undertakings. To learn more, click here to visit its website.