Black investors today only hold 3% of partner positions in venture capital firms. That must change, says Sherrard Harrington, chairman of black-owned venture capital firm and business incubator EonXI, which he and current NBA star Spencer Dinwiddie founded in 2019. EonXI’s mission is to help various influencers, athletes and entrepreneurs build tech-based financial empires.
EonXI, according to COO Aaron Wilson, is focused on staking emerging blockchain, gaming, and metaverse startups. “When you get to Web 3, you understand why our company exists. Eon represents a billion ideas, ”Wilson beams. “X is the problem, and I represent innovation and inclusiveness through interoperability, the underlying philosophy of Web 3 and the basis of blockchain and distributed ledger. “
In just four years, Harrington and Wilson have built two separate entities, EonXI Ventures, the team of investors, and EonXI Labs, an incubator that grows and develops new concepts. Partners received a huge boost in 2020 thanks to invest in Dapper Labs, creators of NBA Top Shot, a marketplace for trading virtual basketball highlights that has helped spur this year’s non-fungible token (NFT) boom.
By April 2021, Dapper Labs had raised new funding at a valuation of $ 7.5 billion, and EonXI had gained the visibility and reputation to launch more new businesses. EonXI Labs now has a team of software engineers who are also traditional full-stack engineers and operators working on ideas to bring high achievers from minority communities into the investment market.
Harrington, noting Facebook’s name change to Meta, says EonXI plans to launch its own Metaverse project in the near future. This virtual reality space, in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users, he claims, is the new way to empower developers, build communities and inspire people from all walks of life to create new infrastructure and create new businesses. .
The Metaverse, Wilson added, is the opportunity for EonXI to provide others with the ability to get involved in emerging technologies and not be on the sidelines. It allows disenfranchised people to enter downstairs, instead of standing in line, of something that changes the way we think, communicate and interact with others.
Harrington, who grew up in northeast Washington, DC, didn’t have a computer until his footballing skills earned him a scholarship to the University of Colorado. Faced with an injury ending his career, he turned to the investment universe as a path to prosperity. But Harrington also insisted on a larger goal: to make it easier for people living in communities like his childhood home to generate wealth to break the chain of poverty and despair.
Wilson and his partner Kelvin “PJ Kev” Mensah, says Harrington, were well known throughout Colorado for an “incredible” record as top recruiters working with top startups and top influencers. Harrington teasingly boasted, “I put on my recruiting hat and lured these guys into getting them into the infrastructure and building a strong team. I was lucky enough to bring them on board.
Wilson and Mensah are the co-authors of the highly regarded “How to get funding for your startup, ” a book which, according to Inspire reviewer Re’Dreyona Walker, fills the information gap for entrepreneurs, small business owners and professionals of all socio-economic classes. The book provides access to resources and information that successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have used to rapidly grow their businesses.
Wilson says, “Closing the resource gap is imperative if we are to create more opportunities for diverse entrepreneurs. Paying lip service will no longer be tolerated. We must all be held accountable. He jumped at the opportunity to create an entity focused on providing opportunities to entrepreneurs whose ethnicity had hitherto excluded them from access to capital.
Even during the pandemic lockdowns of 2020, Dinwiddie, Harrington, Wilson and the EonXI team were struggling to raise $ 25 million from outside investors, negotiate new deals and make new hires. Early on, they recognized that the decentralized Web 3 offered people from diverse and underrepresented communities an easier route through previously high barriers to entry into technology and IT disciplines.
Building on their successful partnership with Dapper Labs, EonXI recently partnered with neuroscience data firm State Space to create a fully academically integrated esports league to bring emerging technologies to city centers. The league will introduce courses focused on Steam and rods and create career paths correlating with the esports industry.
Wilson says EonXI has “an A + product and an A + team” that is already making an impact. The company is busy building a “robust ecosystem” of over a thousand diverse developers from all walks of life over the next five years. This involves identifying people who share EonXI’s vision to bring change to inner-city communities using what they call ‘trickle-down’ capital formation and growth.
Wilson argues that access to capital is the barrier that must be lifted to reduce and eventually eliminate the resource gap between the inner city and middle and upper class communities. Access to capital is what gives access to technology, and yet, even today, most American minorities literally have no access to capital-intensive resources or money in general.
“We are looking to solve some social issues by redefining diversity and what it means,” Wilson added. For EonXI, diversity means “hiring developers from all walks of life who work together in a collaborative framework to procreate and build concepts that break down the divisions that plague American society today.”
EonXI intends to build next generation sponsor and general partners in venture capital and web 3 businesses by recruiting and training prospects who in turn will create wealth in the underserved communities they come from. This top-down approach begins with limited partners who build networks including private equity firms with family offices who in turn hire fund managers and start their own businesses.
“We saw it like ‘Hey we knocked on doors and they didn’t want to let us into the club'” Wilson told Forbes. “So when they don’t let you into the club, what do you do?” Create your own.”
“A lot of people,” Wilson said, “pretended [to economic empowerment for minorities] but haven’t made the effort or put their money where their mouth is. A lot of people just complain, but we’re taking a stand and doing something about it. “
“We are changing the world and we are looking for people who want to join us to do it, whether you are an investor, a large company or a strategic partner. We want to create the next wave of investors, founders and entrepreneurs – and we’re looking for people who would love to be a part of it.
Duggan Flanakin is a political analyst and journalist based in Austin, Texas.