By Sonia K. González, DrPH, MPH
Shila Nieves Burney, Founding and Managing Partner, has spent a 20+ year professional career working closely with leading organizations and exceptional talent to create solutions that address disparities through investment in human capital. Her superpower is connecting!
After spending a year sourcing investors for a startup that culminated in a $5M term sheet, mentoring and advising founders of color, Shila was able to see firsthand challenges founders of color face getting access to capital and the resources they needed to grow and scale their companies.
She founded Zane Venture Fund, a seed fund that will invest in underrepresented founders with the goal of closing the funding gap and generating high returns for investors. She had also developed the Founders RoadMap Forums to bring much needed resources to the entrepreneurs in their own backyard.
I am the Founding and Managing Partner of Zane Venture Fund, and I have spent a 20+ year career advocating for marginalized groups. I worked closely with leading organizations and exceptional talent to create solutions that address disparities through investment in human capital. I cultivated a rich internal community at these organizations.
I founded the fund to invest in underrepresented Founders with the goal of closing the funding gap. I also developed the Founders RoadMap Forums to bring much-needed resources to entrepreneurs. I became interested in social impact investing after seeing great companies created to address societal and community issues. Also, data show that social impact companies are now having a greater return than their peer companies.
We are looking for tech-enabled companies created by diverse teams. We believe that every company should have some form of technology that enhances the lives of the users.
At this present moment, healthcare and wellness technology are very important to our survival. Many are finding ways to still work in a remote environment when dealing with COVID19, a worldwide crisis, others are attempting to find a cure for the virus, while many are finding ways to maintain mental wellness during a time of isolation.
This has not been a hard transition. Some of the attributes needed as an entrepreneur (grit, perseverance, integrity) are needed to be a successful investor.
New York is one of the largest metropolitan cities and drives innovation for the rest of us. There are several diverse companies in the industry looking for ways to solve marco-level problems.
The greatest challenge, in my opinion, is creating technology that works for all. Biases in AI could lead to mistakes with diverse patients if the technology wasn’t created equitably. This is one of the opportunities to get it right by bringing a diversity of thought and experience when creating any product, but especially in health technology.
Absolutely. If the two are not working together, this would be a great time to start. The current pandemic is hitting communities of color harder than others and public health could inform tech companies as to why. This collaboration could ensure that we solve many problems in disadvantaged communities through technology.