Contact: Shawn Uhlman, PDC, 503-823-7994
January 12, 2016
On behalf of the Portland Development Commission, an expert advisory committee has announced the selection of Portland-based Elevate Capital as the management team for the newly created Inclusive Startup Fund. The fund provides early-stage investment capital and mentoring to local high-growth companies founded by underrepresented groups across a variety of industries. PDC and Multnomah County each contributed $500,000 and Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Business Oregon committed $250,000 to launch the fund last year.
In August 2015, PDC issued a request for information to identify and select a professional manager for the fund. Six teams responded to the RFI and an evaluation committee, composed of public and private-sector representatives, recommended the Elevate Capital team. A key component of the selection criteria was the expectation that the selected manager would raise an additional $1.75 million from private investors and foundations to meet a $3 million goal for total initial capital in the fund’s first year.
The Elevate Capital team includes Managing Director Nitin Rai, along with Stephen Green (Community Relations), Robin Jones Maloney (Venture Advisor) and Eric Boothe (Venture Associate). Collectively, the team has more than 30 years of professional experience and has led investments in dozens of startups.
“This is a groundbreaking effort as one of the first investment funds in the nation that will serve underrepresented groups,” said PDC Economic Development Director Chris Harder. “That’s why it’s critical to have a team like Elevate Capital bringing years of experience, a proven record of success and a thorough knowledge of the Portland startup community in support of startups with diverse founders.”
“By seeding the Inclusive Startup Fund, we are dramatically improving the climate for business startups in communities of color,” Commissioner Loretta Smith said. “We are at the front of the line when it comes to encouraging our minority business entrepreneurs. I’m not aware of this strategy being tried anywhere else in the nation, and I’m proud of our county for taking this visionary step to improve the growth potential of our minority business owners.”
Nitin Rai of Elevate Capital said, “We are very honored and thankful to have been selected as the team to lead this pioneering effort. We bring hands-on experience in both mentoring and investing in early stage startups and have led the way in investing in underrepresented entrepreneurs, including women- and minority-led startups such as Zapproved, Geoloqi and GlobeSherpa.
“With funding from PDC, Multnomah County and the State of Oregon, the Inclusive Startup Fund will be a sidecar fund to a larger, regional $10 million fund. We hope to not only set a precedent in creating successful minority-led businesses but also bring in new investors who recognize investment in underrepresented communities as an opportunity to grow the local economy and make healthy returns.”
The Elevate Inclusive Startup Fund will invest in early stage startups founded by women and members of disadvantaged communities of color via its Launchpad program. Startups selected in the program will also receive mentoring and business advising services. For more information on the fund and the Elevate Capital team visit www.elevate.vc.
The evaluation/advisory committee consisted of Gustavo Cruz, Chair (Ater Wynne; PDC Board of Commissioners); Diane Fraiman (Voyager Capital); Nita Shah (Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon); Ana Andueza (Angel Oregon); Jason Gershenson (White Summers); Rick Turoczy (Portland Incubator Experiment); Monica Enand (Zapproved; Oregon Growth Board); and Paula Hayes (Hue Noir).