Black-led startups encouraged to apply to join Investment Bootcamp program


David Kwok, Associate Director of Entrepreneurship at York University

In the last 20 years, the word “start-up” has been synonymous with funding, especially within the tech space. This surge of funding has given rise to enterprises now referred to as “Unicorns” (having a minimum valuation of $1bn) and “Decagons” (having a valuation of $10bn and above). However, this surge seemed to almost exclude Black entrepreneurs, who often face an uphill battle when it comes to accessing networks and securing funding.

According to Crunchbase, less than one percent of the $543 billion venture capitals offered in the U.S. between 2015 and 2019 was given to Black and African American founders. That’s just US$4.9 billion. While there isn’t enough data about this in Canada, it is safe to assume the figures are no different. 

While we’ve seen recent changes with Black-focused funds such as the Black Opportunity Fund, the Dreammakers Venture, and the Google Black Entrepreneur Fund, they have barely moved the needle as there is still a lack of training and opportunity building to make sure the Black founders are ready to present to the venture funds.

“While the lack of sufficient data is a challenge, there are still some obvious things we can work on. Firstly, Black founders need more access to funding opportunities for their businesses to scale. Secondly, investors need to be more open to funding Black-led start-ups in order for them to have a chance at succeeding; and thirdly, Black entrepreneurs need to unlearn some old skills and tools, and relearn new ones that will help them succeed. This is our mission with Investment Bootcamp.” This is according to Olu Villasa, Manager, Black Entrepreneurship Alliance.

Speaking further on the program, David Kwok, Associate Director of Entrepreneurship at York University says, “the program is designed to support Black founders as they navigate key stages in their start-up journey especially, becoming investment ready. It’s a mix of educational workshops on navigating pre-seed and seed financing rounds, one-on-one coaching and advising on fundraising strategy, and a demo day to build connections with investors.”

Olu Villasa

Investment Bootcamp is a 4-month program designed for early-stage and capital ready, Black-led startups. Some of the program features include: Bridging capital access for Black tech founders & the private capital community; Educational workshops on navigating pre-seed and seed stage financing rounds; Mentorship and guidance on securing early capital; One-on-one coaching, advising on fundraising strategy; Collision-day to build 1-1 connections between ventures & investment network.

You might ask, what makes Investment Bootcamp different from some of the other programs out there? In response, Olu Villasa says, “for one, the strategic partnership with YSpace at York University who has a track record of helping companies raise funding with their ventures raising over $67.5 million since 2018. Secondly, it’s the inclusion of a DEI training for investors that will help reset their minds and perspectives before seeing our ventures at Demo Day. This is one part that gets me really excited because we designed it from the ground up and it’s interesting to see how it will shape out.”

The application deadline is January 20, 2023, and interested applicants are encouraged to visit our website ( to apply. Or email with any questions about the program.