Welcoming My Next Chapter — E’mani Davis
Two years ago, I was introduced to venture as an Emerson Collective First Gen intern. Today I am an Associate with Unshackled Ventures, a member of BLCK VC — SF Chapter, and a member of Black Women in VC (BWiVC). I’m beyond grateful for the support of my growing community and the opportunity to contribute. I’m no longer a stranger to VC. I’m glad to make it my home.
What have I learned?
Over the past two years, I’ve had the privilege to know what it means to be an investor, manage the complexities around fund operations, and understand how to unlock the potential for founders who need immigration support. Exposure to all three realms has helped me refine how I evaluate investment opportunities and strategies for scaling and growing. Below are some of the many lessons learned (industry and personally):
- Support is just as important as capital: Founders should always be strategic with who they receive money from. I’ve always appreciated Unshackled’s mission to remove barriers for immigrant entrepreneurs. What makes Unshackled unique is how we execute that mission statement.
- Your energy is currency. Spend it well: Being so early in my career, I thought I had to be an expert before I could get involved with certain groups and events. Do not let imposter syndrome play you. What connected me to most people is how much we don’t know but are willing to learn. I’m glad BLCK VC and BWiVC created spaces for much of that learning to happen in my career. Immerse yourself in similar communities. **Side note: Not all invitations are created equally. Be mindful of environments and people that are cagey but invasive. Venture is an industry that can get transactional. Give credit to your intuition.
- “Real G’s move in silence like lasagna”: Being on a small team granted me the luxury to impact our funds in both investing and operations. Supporting our fund in operations and immigration exposed me to how much is needed to allow checkwriters to write a check. You can only make decisions that your operations allow for. Laying the groundwork to support a growing portfolio on an operational level is not a small feat. Your platform and operations will expose you to founders, LPs, and talent. Unshackled has entered a period of growth where enhancing what we offer to the community is essential.
What is next?
As I continue doing my best to support the fund and founders, I want to dig deeper into the areas I’m currently excited about. I invite others to learn with me as well! In the meantime, here’s what I’m looking to explore further:
- Elevating Our Platform: With uncertainty and volatility remaining consistent in the news, I aim to help deliver a different message for current and future founders. Refining our fund’s operations as we scale allows us to support our larger community, especially regarding immigration support. I empathize with individuals impacted by recent waves of layoffs and whose status could now be in jeopardy. My goal is to leverage our community to meet these challenges with helpful solutions. It’s time to elevate our platform and bring these learnings and opportunities internally and externally. Our team will continue to focus on offering creative opportunities for immigrant builders as we pursue the International Entrepreneur Parole opportunity, integrate Formally into our process, and grow in our presence. This is the beauty of platform. Being a solution beyond a check.
- Beauty: After leading an incredible deal like Parfait, I grew a curiosity about how the beauty and fashion industry can evolve. These industries are essential to our day-to-day lives and how we express ourselves. There should be a better, more innovative, and personalized way to engage in it. I want to focus on personalization. What made Parfait unique was their use of AI/ML to customize a unit. Parfait addressed the specific needs of every client and will continue to enhance the experience for users.
- Maternal Health: Being a community doula, I’m hopeful that technology can support parents during a sacred and emotional transition. As a doula, you quickly learn that every pregnancy is different for the parent and the support consultant. I would love to see tailored and collaborative solutions that include all individuals involved in one’s pregnancy journey. I would also want to understand what tools and platforms can create a level of standardization.
- Tech Trends in Africa: When I joined the team, fintech in Africa was blowing up. I grew curious about how other countries were developing solutions and how investors could step in and help expand these technologies. Beyond fintech, Africa has so much to offer when it comes to innovation. I want to be an investor that invests in companies and founders in Africa. To achieve that, I’m looking to deepen my understanding and relationship with players on the continent.
If you want to learn, collaborate, or share information, DM me! I appreciate you all for growing with me.
From intern to Associate