Rolling Out

Ayana Parsons explains best way for women of color to secure venture capital

The co-founder and general partner defined her superpower at the Fearles Fund VC Summit

In 2019, Arian Simone and Ayana Parsons founded the Fearless Fund designed to help women of color-led businesses seek pre-seed, seed level, or series A financing. With this initiative, the Fearless Fund VC Summit was dedicated to bridging the gap in venture capital funding for women of color founders building scalable, growth-aggressive companies.

For the third annual Fearless Fund VC Summit, the two-day conference was held at the Atlanta Symphony Hall with special guest speakers such as Jessica Alba, Cam Newton, and more. In addition, the summit’s second day was dedicated to emerging entrepreneurs vying for a six-figure prize at Demo Day. The 1,000 applicants were, narrowed down to three award-winning businesses: The Renatural, Femly, and Saavor Inc. all emerged victorious in their fields.

Parsons spoke with rolling out about the overall goal for the Fearless Fund VC Summit.

What are some key skills that you need to have in a leadership position?

The biggest skills that are needed are hustle, grit, agility, and the ability to do something different. I had a completely different career that wasn’t finance. It wasn’t venture capital, private equity, or investment banking, which is the historical route, but it took courage to come in and disrupt an industry that was 98 percent White male.

Why should businesswomen reach back to help the next generation of women?

It’s absolutely vital. I often say that you’ve got to have both access and opportunity to be able to create opportunities for entrepreneurship. The education is so critical. There’s a whole language of venture capital, there’s a language of investment, there’s a language of entrepreneurship, and sometimes we just don’t know the words. Being able to have a summit like this, where we break things down and do it in a simplistic way that everyone can understand, I think is key.

What is the overall goal for the Fearless Fund VC Summit?

The first year that we did this … I told them, “This event is life-changing.” We had women not only coming from all over the country but internationally and it continues to grow. We started at The Gathering Spot, now we’re here at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, [and] we sold out 2,000 seats. As we continue to grow, we’re going to be in stadiums. The more women that we can touch, the more lives we can change; the better.

What is your superpower?

It’s resilience. Every successful entrepreneur and certainly every successful Black woman has been resilient. They’ve been able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Many of us are self-made, so you have to have that conviction when nobody else believes in your crazy idea. You keep going and you keep pushing.

Who is one of the main women of color that helped you get to the position you are in today?

I’ll shout out Arian Simone because had it not been for her being such a visionary, we wouldn’t have this fund, so I’m so indebted to her.

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