Debut Capital’s Pilar Johnson works to increase funding for overlooked founders – TechCrunch
A little while ago starting around April 2021, which Pilar Johnson often thinks about.
She was scared and nervous. The Houston native grew up in a low-income neighborhood and had no experience in venture capital. As she waded through the industry, impostor syndrome frequently crept in. Then she and her team at Debut Capital raised $1 million in early 2021. That funding milestone — achieved in three months, no less — calmed her down. For now, at least.
“I was like, ‘OK, we’re really doing this,'” she told TechCrunch. “People connect with our mission to disrupt the VC space by prioritizing the underrepresented. It was a very special moment for me. »
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Johnson’s investment thesis is to support the next generation of diverse founders seeking to meet the needs of marginalized communities. As the daughter of a Mexican mother and an African American father, Johnson is among a growing number of minority investors working to increase funding for overlooked founders.
She told TechCrunch that she lets empathy drive her approach to investing, a method likely welcomed by various founders often used to VCs showing otherwise. Her notable investments include popular beauty brand Ami Colé, social gathering place Ethel’s Club and wellness company Golde.
Johnson lacks Bay Area roots, but that’s starting to matter less than it once did. Ten years ago, Johnson didn’t consider a career to help make venture capital fairer. But outside perspectives like his can help change the way money is allocated in the industry.
“If someone is interested in being an investor and doesn’t think they have the skills, I would say, don’t believe them. You can completely become an investor, and it is necessary. Pilar Johnson
Safe to say, she is one to watch.
“We can [make] space for these underrepresented founders to come to us so they can raise more capital,” she said. “It’s Debut’s purpose to exist.”
After studying radio and film at the University of Austin, Texas, Johnson moved to New York without knowing anyone. She said her dream was to live in New York. Growing up in Texas, movies gave her an escape from her surroundings; now was the time to try his luck in real life.