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October 07, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Innova Memphis one of nation’s top investors in Black- and Latinx-founded companies

Innova Memphis is among the most active micro-venture firms in the country in terms of investments in Black- and Latinx-founded companies, according to a just released report from Crunchbase.

The report ranks the firm seventh in the nation over the past five years, but there is something even more impressive about the positioning. If you don’t count firms on the two coasts, Innova ranks second behind Revolution’s Rise of the Rest, the high profile fund launched by Steve Case.

For Ken Woody and Jan Bouten, Innova Partners, it’s validation of a strategy adopted when the firm was launched in 2007.

“Since our start, Innova has worked closely with the local communities in Memphis, across Tennessee, and nationally to give opportunities for diverse start-up Founders to be considered for investment,” Woody said. “We believe that African-American and Latinx founders frequently do not get the same exposure to investors. We’re proud of the Founders and leaders in our Innova portfolio and are pleased Crunchbase identified our work in this area, and national ranking.”

The Crunchbase authors wrote that they launched the study to answer this question: “Who are the investors actively investing in minority founders? Here we seek out those investors at the earlier stages who have supported these organizations’ journeys.”

The top five spots, based on portfolio count, went to: (1) Backstage Capital (Los Angeles); (2) Precursor Ventures (San Francisco); (3) MaC Venture Capital (also San Francisco); (4) Quake Capital Partners (New York City); and (5) Kapor Capital (Oakland, CA).

“We invested in 15 distinct minority-led companies, but did it in 25 different rounds of investment,” Woody said in explaining the chart that appears in the report.

Innova is a pre-seed, seed and early-stage investor focused on starting and funding high-growth companies in the biosciences, technology and agtech fields. One of its portfolio companies is Sweet Bio that was recently selected as a semi-finalist for the national “Startup of the Year” competition (see our post from earlier this week with that news here).


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