Venture capital plays a crucial role in the development of our economy by promoting innovation and industry disruption…it’s the forefront of our future where entrepreneurs can create change. 

At the forefront, entrepreneurs need capital to move forward which is easier said than done. Worse, there is an implicit bias from banks that lead to Black business owners to be half as likely to get full financing, in comparison to their white counterparts. (Forbes) To counter these biases, Black businesses can operate as sole proprietorships since it’s more affordable however, this leads to more hurdles with loans and government funding. 

So what can help underrepresented entrepreneurs succeed? 

The key ingredient is having experienced mentors.

We need experienced mentors to help close the opportunity gap for those that are at a disadvantage in the venture world. Luckily, we have a Cornell hero that built his venture capital to do just this.

Meet Marlon. Marlon Nichols is a Cornell Johnson alumnus, class of 2011 who took his career from Intel Capital to his own venture capital firm. He is now the founding managing partner at MaC Venture Capital, a seed-stage venture capital firm that invests in visionary founders building the future that the world wants to see! 

On top of that, Marlon is an adjunct faculty in entrepreneurship and venture capital at the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University, which illustrates how close-knit and supportive our Cornell community is in giving back and changing the world.

So how did Marlon identify this need and pivot to VC?

“I was drawn to venture capital because I saw the impact I could make on founders and the culture at large. My team at MaC Venture Capital and I closely watch global trends in media, tech, entertainment and private equity, and work to uplift and empower future founders on the verge of their breakthrough moment,” said Marlon Nichols, Managing General Partner and Co-Founder at MaC Venture Capital.”

“We founded MaC to close the representation gap and offer more seats at the table for Black, Hispanic, and female entrepreneurs.” – Marlon

Marlon shares that “lived experience can be equally, and in some cases more important, than professional experience or formal education. We pride ourselves on identifying and investing in talented founders that are uniquely qualified to build companies that will shift culture. We believe the most important thing that can be done to close the opportunity gap is to remove systemic oppression—providing capital to outstanding Black, Hispanic, and women founders at similar rates as their white male counterparts is one important way to close the opportunity gap.” 

So what can you do today? We asked Marlon for advice, and he suggested “to identify innovative disruptors. All outcomes, whether good or bad, are driven by people so the most important decision an early-stage investor can make is deciding which founders to back.” However, to do so “it requires an openness to expanding your corporate culture to truly be inclusive, giving diverse hires real decision-making authority, and funding high potential startups founded by Black, Hispanic, and female entrepreneurs.” 

The Cornell community fortunately has Marlon as an experienced mentor to show us how we can all make a change. As entrepreneurs and the future generation of venture, we have the opportunity to be disruptive leaders and break down barriers with Marlon to make a significant impact in our economy. 

To hear more impactful stories, please go to Mac Venture Capital website: https://macventurecapital.com/

Marlon Nichols was interviewed by BRV Fund Manager, Alicia Park.