Interview: Seed at The Table, Crowdfunding Platform For Helping Diverse Entrepreneurs Thrive
In a world where only 2% of venture-funded startups are led by black founders, Seed At The Table is on a mission to change that. Seed At The Table is a crowdfunding platform that connects entrepreneurs of color with accredited and non-accredited investors who are looking to invest in BIPOC-led companies.
Seed At The Table’s partners provides white-glove services tailored to the communities they serve because Seed understands the struggles that underrepresented founders face when trying to access capital. If you’re an entrepreneur of color looking for funding, Seed At The Table is the perfect place to start.
LAStartups.com had a chance to interview the team at Seed At The Table about their experience with the AWS Impact Accelerator. Seed At The Table was one of 25 Black-founded startups chosen to participate in this year’s cohort.
Meet Seed At The Table
Together with the team at AWS Impact Accelerator, we would like to introduce you to Seed At The Table!
Here’s our interview with Seed At The Table.
LAS: Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
SEED: The founders of Seed at the Table are a diverse array of 30 Black and Brown professionals from various careers. At the core, they are a “Seed Family.” Areas of expertise range from finance, marketing, tech, sales, logistics, and serial entrepreneurship.
LAS: What is Seed at the Table and how did you come up with the idea?
SEED: Seed at the Table was conceived in the Fall of 2019, and started as an equity crowdfunding portal specifically geared toward serving Black and Brown entrepreneurs. The site launched in July of 2021 and has helped raise over $1M for diverse companies through the platform with a few of those companies have gone on to raise millions thereafter.
The next step in the evolution of the brand is to create an ecosystem that helps the “extended family” investors, subject matter experts, and entrepreneurs connect and assist in the growth and development of multicultural businesses.
LAS: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
SEED: Simply put, Seed at the Table seeks to solve the problem of accessing capital. Typically, Black and Brown businesses fail because they cannot access capital in the same way White businesses can. Entrepreneurs of color are generally over-leveraged and have to bootstrap to keep their doors open.
LAS: Who is your target audience?
SEED: Our target audience is multicultural-owned and/or operated companies in the United States.
LAS: What services or products does your company offer that are unique to the market?
SEED: We are mission-driven, with our ecosystem of diverse and patient advisors. Furthermore, we offer a white glove service, which is inclusive of helping our issuers and potential issuers from the beginning of the crowdfunding raise to post raise.
Like many of our competitors, we take 7% of the final raise amount as a fee, but only 5% is in cash. The other 2% is in equity. This way we ensure that there is always a relationship and partnership vs a one-off engagement.
LAS: Tell us why you are so passionate about Seed at the Table.
SEED: We are passionate about this mission because we all come from communities of color and we realize that the only way to build and grow as a people is through economic empowerment.
Equity crowdfunding is a great step in helping the community invest in businesses that are meant to serve them. We are often precluded from having a seat at the table as both entrepreneurs and investors therefore it’s critical that efforts like ours exist and grow.
LAS: If you have to start over, what would you do differently?
SEED: I would do nothing differently except maybe launch earlier. We missed a window for rapid adaptation given the racial turmoil the country was experiencing and, as a result, the commitment to diversity and economic empowerment.
Although tempted to launch, we intentionally chose to delay our start date as we wanted to make sure there were no technical hiccups with our platform.
There is often an added pressure for doing things “right” given skepticism among our community, therefore we wanted to make sure the user had a seamless experience.
LAS: What have you learned from your biggest failure?
SEED: Education and exposure are everything, yet second to resources that allow for education and exposure.
It would have been nice to have circled up more resources so we could have made bigger strides earlier with respect to educating both investors and entrepreneurs on the benefits of equity crowdfunding in a more scalable way given it’s a new concept for many in comparison to more traditional investments.
LAS: How has AWS Impact Accelerator helped your startup?
SEED: Amazon Web Services provided a few amazing things for our company…
The first is community. Entrepreneurship is often a lonely journey. It was a blessing and inspiration to be able to connect with 24 other founders from across the country who had similar journeys and passions.
The second thing they provided was two in-person weeks of dedicated programming, insights, and advice from entrepreneurs, thought leaders, technologists, and others. Our ideas were challenged and developed in a way that could have never been done in isolation.
Lastly, a capital injection. As previously mentioned, entrepreneurs of color are often bootstrapping and over leveraging personal assets to keep their business open or to scale it. The dollars from Amazon were a massive help, operationally.
LAS: Do you have any advice for new entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
SEED: A few things…
Network. Talk to other entrepreneurs and take notes. Learn from their highs and lows. Lean on one another for support.
Dream big but be pragmatic. Realize that everything doesn’t happen as fast as you want. And that’s ok.
Understand that, as special as we all are, there are 100 other companies that are equally undercapitalized and underbanked. Albeit this certainly isn’t fair, and it should serve as a reminder that if you’re looking to grow your biz and raise capital, but execute on the plan you’ve outlined and start your raise process YESTERDAY! It is a long road that sometimes feels impossible, but I’m sure we’ve all endured more given the caliber of firms and founders to come through AWS!
Thank you for taking the time to share your startup journey with us! We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Connect with Seed At The Table on:
The following resources may help explain crowdfunding in more detail.
What is Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is the process of raising small amounts of money from a large number of people to finance a new business venture. By using social media and crowdfunding websites, entrepreneurs can connect with potential investors from all over the world, making it easier for them to get funding for their projects.
This could lead to more entrepreneurship overall by expanding the pool of potential investors beyond the usual suspects (such as family members and venture capitalists). It also democratizes the process of raising money, giving more people the opportunity to start their own businesses.
How Crowdfunding Works?
Start-up companies are often restricted as to who can invest and how much they’re allowed to contribute in most legal systems. These rules, which hedge fund investing usually falls under, exist to stop investors who lack experience or wealth from putting too much of their money in jeopardy. A lot of new businesses end up collapsing entirely, so their stakeholders stand to lose a great deal of what they put in if the venture fails.
Crowdfunding has given entrepreneurs a way to raise funds from anyone who is willing to invest. This process provides people with ideas and the opportunity to present them in front of potential investors.
Crowdfunding platforms like Seed at The Table offer a way for entrepreneurs to connect with potential investors online. These websites serve as a middleman between the two parties, allowing them to communicate and negotiate terms without ever meeting in person.
This system has opened up the world of investing to a wider range of people, as well as given entrepreneurs more control over their fundraising.
What are the Benefits of Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding has a number of benefits for both entrepreneurs and investors.
For entrepreneurs, crowdfunding provides a way to raise money without giving up equity in their company. This is important because it allows them to keep more control over their business.
Crowdfunding also gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to build a community of supporters around their project. These people can provide valuable feedback and help spread the word about the venture.
For investors, crowdfunding offers a way to support entrepreneurs and potentially make a profit. It also provides access to a wider range of investment opportunities, as well as the ability to invest smaller amounts of money.
What are the Risks of Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is not without its risks.
For entrepreneurs, the most obvious risk is that they may not raise enough money to fund their project. This can be a particularly big problem if the project is time-sensitive and needs to be completed by a certain date.
Another risk for entrepreneurs is that they may not be able to deliver on their promises. This can lead to disappointed investors and bad publicity for the company.
For investors, the biggest risk is that they may not see a return on their investment. This is always a possibility with any kind of investment, but it can be especially risky with start-ups since so many fail.
Another risk for investors is that they may not be able to get their money back if the company goes under. This is why it’s important to research any potential investment thoroughly before putting any money into it.
Popular Crowdfunding Websites
Here are some popular crowdfunding websites that entrepreneurs can use to raise money for their projects:
- Kickstarter: Kickstarter is one of the most popular crowdfunding platforms, with a wide range of projects to choose from.
- Indiegogo: Indiegogo is another popular crowdfunding platform that offers a variety of options for entrepreneurs.
- GoFundMe: GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform that is typically used for personal causes, but can also be used for business ventures.