Reflecting on the Launch With GS 2020 Black and Latinx Entrepreneur Cohort

By Jemma Wolfe, Stephanie Cohen, & Margaret Anadu

What can a fraud detection company learn from a vegan cookie company? How are the IPO trends within the payments sector affecting the broader fintech ecosystem? Which tricks do repeat founders employ that no one tells you when you raise a seed round? Once you’ve successfully exited a company, how do you create a long-lasting legacy that increases equity and access for more founders?

While these questions may seem wide-ranging, we tackled them all (and more) this summer with the inaugural Launch With GS Black and Latinx Entrepreneur Cohort. Although this was our first official Cohort, the experience was more than two years in the making. When we opened applications in February 2020, we never could have predicted the immense hardships this summer would bring – from a global pandemic to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many others.

However, our weekly Zoom conversations with the founders brought us ongoing inspiration and hope. The strength of the Cohort companies was clear from beginning to end, and we feel more confident than ever that the founders selected for the Cohort embody the type of companies that Launch With GS was created to support.

Over the past two years designing the Cohort, we met with hundreds of thought partners (including one of the entrepreneurs who ended up participating in the Cohort – thank you Jean Brownhill!) to understand what founders needed most, and how we could bring the best of Goldman Sachs and be as impactful as possible. In June, we virtually opened our doors to 14 innovative companies – selected from a competitive applicant pool of more than 400 – and over the course of 8 short weeks, each company blew us away with the amount of ground we covered together.

Some founders closed fundraising rounds and landed major customer contracts; others conceptualized and executed partnerships – with Goldman Sachs and with our clients. In turn, we had the distinct pleasure of watching this group of entrepreneurs in action, and learning from the ways that they are building new technologies, scaling teams and shaping their industries.

Along the way, the participating companies met with over 200 investors and industry experts, plus more than 100 global Goldman Sachs subject matter experts across investment banking, research, engineering and more. Throughout group sessions, the founders heard from leaders in operations, strategy, marketing and finance, and spent time 1-on-1 to dive deep on business models, refine pitch decks, undergo media training and learn from each other. We also had the chance to hear insights from our amazing Launch With GS Advisory Council.

As we enter the third year of Launch With GS, our $500 million investment strategy grounded in our belief that diverse teams drive strong returns, we remain firmly committed to increasing access to capital for women, Black, Latinx and other diverse entrepreneurs and investors. Embedding diversity into our business is a key tenet of our long-term strategy.

Our investment thesis is driven by three things - data, experience, and where we see opportunity.

  1. Data: A growing body of data demonstrates that diverse management teams deliver stronger returns. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at the management level are 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability; companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to outperform peers.
  2. Experience: Our experience working with each of the entrepreneurs has reinforced our belief that diverse management teams leverage a wide range of insights to better compete in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world.
  3. Opportunity: Despite the data and our experience, access to capital is still not equitable, particularly for founders of color. We know that diverse teams deliver stronger returns. That’s a misallocation of capital, and to us, that's a clear investment opportunity.

We are immensely grateful for the time we shared with the entrepreneurs of the Launch With GS Black and Latinx Entrepreneur Cohort. We are eager to see what is next for each of these phenomenal companies, and looking forward to welcoming future Cohorts to learn from our alumni.

Jemma Wolfe, Stephanie Cohen, & Margaret Anadu

 

Click here for more on the 2020 Launch With GS Entrepreneur Cohort participating companies.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.