By Victor Ochieng
Troy Carter is known for his knack in finding undiscovered talent and nurturing them to be world stars. He’s known for bringing stars such as Lady Gaga, John Legend and Meghan Trainor to the limelight.
He’s also known for his strategic investments in a number of established and startup companies. Carter has shares in companies such as Spotify, The Skimm, Uber, and Warby Parker, which are some of the companies in which he’s invested over the past five years.
He’s got an admirable track record, but was surprised to realize that some investors are still hesitant to put money in his ideas, particularly his latest fund.
Speaking to CNNMoney on why some of these investors are cautious on investing in his ideas, he says, “They thought [we] were only going to invest in black founders.” A third party informed him that several investors were keen on investing on his ideas but were worried that he was revising his investment strategy.
Carter is in charge of a fund, Cross Culture Ventures, in which he partners with two other African Americans. Out of their investments, three of them are from Black founders.
“I said, ‘Who said African American founders can’t build a billion dollar company?'” said Carter. “It was them having prejudice against black founders.”
Prejudice is a challenge that many Black founders are facing. There are individuals who believe in their ideas but don’t invest in them because they believe Black founders can’t build multinational businesses. This prejudice is in most cases referred to as “pattern matching.”
A black entrepreneur named Matt Joseph says the prejudice frustrates Black founders.
Carter and Dave McClure, 500 Startups’ co-founder advocates for investing in minority owned businesses and female founders, terming it a remarkable business opportunity.
Mayvenn, for example, which was founded by an African American, has been able to raise amounts to the tune of $16 million from different investors, including Carter’s fund. On this business, Carter said: “[Mayvenn founder] Diishan [Imira] has the potential to build a billion dollar company.”
The 43-year-old Carter was among the few Blacks who managed pop stars and is now among the only few Black venture capitalists. Carter reveals that he does his best and has never looked at himself from the race mirror until some investors questioned his racial background.
Carter, who’s also the founder of Atom Factory, a talent management agency, says his focus is to invest on great founders and ideas, particularly those on the spheres of “global cultural shifts.”
According to him, race, age, or gender don’t come as barriers, saying they’re completely open to invest on ideas as long as they’re great ideas.
He even disclosed that at some point he invested in an idea presented by a 16-year-old.
He confidently says that as for institutional investors, “anybody who thinks that way — I don’t want your money,” adding that he’s becoming forward with the idea because “it’s unfair to keep it to myself.”