Bare Ventures host Samir Vig interviews Nasir Qadree about funding strategy for diverse founders in financial technology (Fintech) and the future of work sectors.
In this episode of The BARE Ventures Podcast, Samir Vig interviewed Nasir Qadree, Founder and Nasir Qadree, the Founder and Managing Partner of Zeal Capital, based in Washington D.C. is investing with diversity and inclusivity in mind. Qadree is driving unprecedented success for his venture capital firm, Zeal. In just two years, it has become one of the larger and more well known first-time funds in the venture community. Their ability to see their mission come to life in every founder will differentiate them in the market.
Qadree’s extensive and unique investing background and innovative mindset towards uncovering opportunities is going to set the stage for their continued success.
Qadree’s Pathway to Venture Investing
Qadree found himself taking a non-traditional path on the road to venture. Graduating from a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to working at Goldman Sachs. “It was not a straight and silver bullet,” said Qadree. He stresses the importance of his path as it doesn’t fit the profile of most investors. This sheds light on the driving force of looking at overlooked spaces and founders.
He knew that the mission and alignment of dismantling barriers was missing in his daily life.
Serving on boards focused on education, first-generation college students, underserved youth, and students that mirrored similar upbringings to him, Qadree recalls “I became more and more fascinated in the role of technology and how technology could level the playing field and be a force for good.” Through his coffee-store incubator, investors introduced him to the private markets…and Zeal Capital was born.
Diversity and Inclusivity are Key Tenets driving the Vision for Zeal Portfolio
Zeal’s focus is on the sectors of financial technology and the future of work. Zeal is driven to play a vital role in narrowing skills and wealth gaps through a holistic approach to investing in early-stage, tech-enabled businesses.
Qadree says, “the best and most investable entrepreneurs exist everywhere. Not just coming from very few places…this is a huge missing opportunity when you are not proactively leaning into ecosystems that were oftentimes left out. We are seeking out underrepresented entrepreneurs.”
With the strong intentionality, committing to this mission, Zeal’s Blue-Chip standards will highlight “everything that we don’t see enough of across the private equity market’s asset class,” says Qadree.
How Does Zeal Source in an Untapped Market?
Zeal has trademarked Inclusive Investing. While they give a nod and have ability to invest in traditional geographical markets like San Francisco and New York, their sourcing capabilities hold to their mission of diversification. “If entrepreneurs are going to be the change makers – backbone of the future – then we have to Include everyone, we have to democratize access to capital, entrepreneurship and careers in the technology sectors”, said Qadree. Zeal’s mission drives creating a diverse pipeline of entrepreneurs to fund.
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How Are You Seeing Private Markets Going After Diverse Founders?
Qadree explains that private market strategies that are focused on regents are injecting more capital into local assets: a school that yields talent and the ability to thrive off of the talent.
“250 years ago, this country was a start-up. Think about the most iconic business like… Detroit. The car was the hot technology, Detroit was the silicon valley, and Silicon Valley was a field of apple workers… Today Carnegie Mellon is one of the most innovative and active Universities focused on robotics and machine learning. You see innovation happening locally. But, the challenge is that there is simply not enough… said Qadree.”
What Was Your Thought Process About Raising Capital outside of Traditional Markets?
Qadree believes in a number of competitive advantages that exist in Washington D.C., and other markets like it, that allow companies to thrive. With an active ecosystem including early stage investors, growth stage investors, local angel investors and a founder community, these components fuel the ability to raise capital as they build the overall activity and interest.
“What’s exciting about the proactiveness around the growing venture community as well as this community [is] being such a diverse group of entrepreneurs and the ability to engage non-traditional stakeholders who can uplift, support and add strategic value to the ecosystem…
It’s a very collaborative ecosystem. My goal is to build the best in class venture capital firm in the world. Let the companies we invest in be an indicator of one of our successes,” Qadree said with conviction.
What is it that you are aspiring to build and how will you get there?
“Talent is so important,” said Qadree. Zeal focuses on how to build a team internally. Building a firm that gives everyone an opportunity to grow internally and become partner. “Zeal pioneered this! Zeal pushed us to unbundle how we think about our team, sourcing, how we think about geographic inclusivity, how we think about impact. That to me, would be a gamechanger…from a brand perspective, powerful. When you think of inclusive investing, think of Zeal,” said Qadree.
What Is Your Advice on Becoming a Fund Manager?
Qadree reflected on his own pathway. “I’m a Kauffman Fellow and we talk a lot about our zone of genius. What is that one or a few things that differentiate you from someone else? Recognize your why…Get to the core of your why,” are his final words of advice.
Bringing together founder, operator and investor experience, BARE Ventures as a firm strives for a well-balanced approach to fund management. With an institutional investment background, BARE Ventures focuses on proven traditional methodologies combined with emerging learnings in the ever-changing venture capital landscape.
Learn more at: https://www.barevc.com/