How Dana Guthrie's hoop dreams turned into a $13 million VC fund for Milwaukee
In the previous episode of Diverse Disruptors, we talked to Harlem Capital’s Henri Pierre-Jacques about the lack of Black and Brown people and women in the venture capital space and why it is important to change that, and also his goal to invest in 1000 diverse founders in 20 years. But Harlem Capital can’t invest in everyone. Remember: Only 3% of venture capitalists are Black. And Harlem Capital has certain criteria when investing in a startup, like having a market size greater than $1 billion, a strong team and some traction.
What if you are a Black, Brown or a woman founder? Someone who is just starting out with a good idea, a basic prototype, but no revenue and based outside major cities? How does that founder raise capital? Their company would be too small for the Harlem Capitals of the world. It is already tough for diverse founders to raise capital even if they have revenue and reside in major coastal cities. But what about a city like Milwaukee? Our guest Dana Guthrie on this episode of Diverse Disruptors aims to change that right here in Milwaukee.
From 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, this is Diverse Disruptors, a podcast about leaders, entrepreneurs and trailblazers who found their own way to innovate and did so with inclusion and accessibility at the forefront.
Dana Guthrie is the founder and managing director of Gateway Capital. She is also the first Black woman in Wisconsin to raise an investment round. Gateway Capital closed its first round of $13 million to invest directly in the Milwaukee area. Gateway Capital will focus on pre-revenue startups. Yes, Harlem Capital may have a 10 times larger fund, but what Gateway is doing in Milwaukee might have a bigger impact on the overall ecosystem because she is filling a void where other venture capitalists don’t even consider.
Gateway Capital’s Dana Guthrie recently made her first investment of $400k dollars in the Black-led startup Tip A ScRxipt. Founded by Milwaukee native Chad Johnson, Tip A ScRxipt is a crowdfunding platform for out-of-pocket medication costs. According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Tip a ScRxipt will launch partnerships with health care providers that will use Tip a ScRxipt to deploy their payment assistance programs.
Even though Dana and Henri
Pierre-Jacques are working in the venture capital space, their journeys to get there were quite different. To say, Dana’s path was unconventional would be an understatement. From growing up in a single-parent household in St. Louis to playing basketball at MSOE to DJing at weddings to holding two patents, Dana’s story is one of challenges, inspiration and determination.
Before we talk about venture capital with Dan Guthrie, we want to start with where all began -- St. Louis, Missouri.