- Sixty8 Capital recently announced the first close of its new $20 million venture fund. These are the details.
Sixty8 Capital — an Indianapolis-based seed-stage venture capital (VC) firm supporting Black, Latinx, women, and LGBTQ+ led startups — announced the first close of its new $20 million venture fund. The 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.
Led by Managing Director Kelli Jones, Sixty8 Capital is industry-agnostic and will focus initially on seed investments between the coasts with an emphasis on the Midwest. And Sixty8 Capital is powered by Allos Ventures, one of Indiana’s most active VC firms with Allos’ Paul Ehlinger serving as a venture partner.
Sixty8 Capital is seeking to invest in 25 to 30 pre-seed and seed-stage companies with initial equity checks of $250,000 to $500,000 per company, reserving additional funds for follow-on rounds. And investment will focus on undercapitalized founders and innovators who too often miss out on critical funding since 90% of venture capital goes to people who look like and live near investors. The firm’s investment thesis is focused on uncovering potential among diverse founders whose access to capital is limited by race, gender, sexual orientation, or proximity.
The opportunities for such investments are readily apparent. But Black founders are at the helm of just 1% of venture capital-funded startups. And startups with all-female founding teams saw a declining share of all VC dollars invested last year with just 2.4%. Sixty8 Capital has already identified one of its first investments: Qualifi — which is an Indianapolis-based SaaS platform that helps recruiters improve their hiring efficiency and effectiveness.
“We believe there is an opportunity to truly level the playing field when it comes to capital access for diverse founders in any industry. 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.”
“We have to help lift the veil on how these founders can connect with VCs. 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.”
— Kelli Jones, Sixty8 Capital’s managing director
“Sixty8 Capital’s support goes beyond the investment. The team will play an active role in advancing management teams, optimizing marketing and sales, and assisting with acquisitions, as well as strategizing for a potential exit. We’re similarly aligned in terms of the impact we want to have on the world. Being able to collaborate with them on strategy and leverage their decades of experience is invaluable. Kelli, specifically, has been a champion for Qualifi since the very beginning. She always made us feel confident that we would succeed. Having Sixty8 Capital as an investor is a signal to the broader VC community that Qualifi is a startup worth watching.”
— Darrian Mikell, Qualifi’s chief executive officer and co-founder
“We are excited to support Sixty8 Capital on its mission to uplift underrepresented founders and innovators. 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.”
— Philip Johnson, senior vice president and treasurer, Eli Lilly and Company