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December 6, 2023 39 mins

In this episode of The Business Gay Podcast, host Calan Breckon speaks with Founding Partner at Chasing Rainbows, Ben Stokes.

Ben is a trailblazer, a visionary in venture capital, and a dedicated champion of diversity and inclusion. As the Founding Partner of Chasing Rainbows, an early-stage investment fund, he is on a mission to amplify LGBTQ+ voices in the entrepreneurial landscape. Ben’s accolades speak volumes: he is recognized as a 40 under 40 Rising Star of Venture, an LGBTQ+ Pride Leader, and a Top 100 Investor. He is not only an investor but also a mentor, guiding underrepresented founders toward global success. From the UN General Assembly to NFP boards, his influence is felt worldwide. Ben is a driving force for change, shaping a world of radical inclusivity through Chasing Rainbows.

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Key Takeaways for quick navigation:

  • [03:37] Venture capitalists manage and deploy capital into startups for limited partners, aiming for large exits through IPOs or acquisitions.
  • [08:50] Venture capital is best suited for businesses with the potential for high returns and rapid scalability, often seen in the tech industry.
  • [10:56] Not all investments by Chasing Rainbows are tech-related.
  • [16:30] Early-stage investments typically involve signing a safe note, and the founder may give away around 10% to 20% ownership in exchange for funding.
  • [19:29] Founders should focus on achieving revenue early, making their company sustainable, and giving them negotiating power with investors for better deal terms.
  • [19:56] Chasing Rainbows focuses on mentorship and creating an ecosystem playbook model to support founders beyond just providing capital.
  • [20:39] Key advisors help founders build strategies, set expectations, and create KPIs to showcase their growth, making fundraising for the next round more effective.
  • [24:49] Exit strategies are crucial, and Chasing Rainbows looks for companies that can exit within 5 to 7 years, either through IPO or acquisition.
  • [26:40] Chasing Rainbows aims to create long-term relationships, hoping founders will reinvest in the fund or start new ventures after a successful exit.
  • [30:51] Chasing Rainbows welcomes challenges to its focus on LGBTQ+ representation in investments, emphasizing the underinvestment in this community and the positive outcomes of supporting LGBTQ+ founders.
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