Miami Tech & Startup News

SB Opportunity Fund deployed $100M into 70 startups & will keep investing in underrepresented founders

SB Opportunity Fund deployed $100M into 70 startups & will keep investing in underrepresented founders

SoftBank Group will continue the fund, launched in 2020, as an evergreen fund based in Miami

SoftBank Group announced today that its $100 million SB Opportunity Fund has been fully deployed in 70 companies founded by Black and Latinx founders across the country. The SB Opportunity Fund is here to stay, and will continue as an uncapped evergreen fund as part of SoftBank Group’s commitment to invest in underrepresented founders, the company said.

The SB Opportunity Fund was launched in just 24 hours in the wake of rising racial injustice in June 2020. It also was started at a time when the percentage of venture capital funding flowing to founders of color was in the single digits, a reality still today. The SB Opportunity Fund responded with one of the most diverse teams in the industry, at a time when most firms had few or no diverse members. “Now SoftBank is doubling down by turning the initial investment into a lasting commitment,” said Shu Nyatta, Managing Partner at SoftBank Group International and leader of the fund. “We are in this for the long haul.”

Among the 70 companies the fund has invested in so far are eight startups based or with a strong presence in the Miami area that were also included in SoftBank’s Miami Initiative, a commitment to invest at least $100M in Miami startups through any of its funds. The startups are: AllHere, Eight Sleep, Heru, Lula, Lumu, Mean DAO, Ontop (pictured above) and QuickNode. Two other companies in SB Opportunity Fund’s portfolio with growing Miami ties are Career Karma and Emile. Taken together, the portfolio of 70 companies are expanding access to financial services, improving global hiring and payments, offering more inclusive health care, building blockchain infrastructure, and more.

Miami-based QuickNode, one of SB Opportunity Fund’s first investments, is a blockchain infrastruction startup.

 In its short life, the fund has already had two exits — Arcus and Drift – and it counts four unicorns in its herd: Esusu, Drift, Cityblock Health and Brex.

Here’s how the initial 70 portfolio companies break down:

  • 55% are Black-founded
  • 40% are Latinx-founded
  • 5% are Black/Latinx-founded
  • 13% are founded by women of color.

“I’m proud of our portfolio. We’re 70 companies in and over 50% of the companies have already raised the second round. It’s really showing that there’s no tradeoff between diversity and excellence,” said Dami Osunsanya, Head of Value Creation at SB Opportunity Fund, who is based in Miami and been involved in the SB Opportunity Fund since its inception.

Dami Osunsanya, Head of Value Creation at the SB Opportunity Fund

“This unique community is very special,” she continued. “We know that being a diverse founder  is particularly difficult so we’re here to give them all the connections and networks we can so they can scale.” That can be for everything from key intros, strategic advice and operational expertise to communications support and  co-working space at WeWork, Osunsanya said.  

In her role, Osunsanya has the opportunity to help push founders to think outside the box and be a partner with them from that first seed round, depending on where they come in, all the way to exit. She said she is also looking forward to the opportunity to convene. “Our portfolio is probably about 15% in Miami, but they’re all over across the U.S. We are continuously figuring out ways to help them partner with each other, leverage each other, and really create this community,” she said.

Joanna Smith is founder and CEO of AllHere, an edtech startup with a growing Miami presence.

Going forward, the SB Opportunity Fund will likely invest in about 20 to 30 early-stage deals a year, Nyatta said in an interview with Forbes. Initial investments would likely largely fall in the $300,000 to $700,000 range, with follow-ons of $1 million to $5 million, he said.

To support the fund’s continued growth, SoftBank Investment Advisers  Managing Partners Catherine Lenson, who also oversees the SoftBank Vision Fund Emerge program, and Silicon Valley investor Brett Rochkind will join Investment Committee members Stacy Brown-Philpot, former CEO of TaskRabbit, and Paul Judge of Panoramic Ventures, under Nyatta’s leadership. Under Lenson, Emerge  worked with the SB opportunity Fund to advance diversity in entrepreneurship in Europe and  will extend to applicants from underrepresented communities to a wider range of geographies starting this year.

The evergreen SB Opportunity Fund news also speaks to SoftBank’s growing impact on the Miami ecosystem. Last year, Refresh Miami reported that SoftBank had hit $250 million in investments as part of its Miami Initiative. Now, after one year, SoftBank Group exceeded that initiative by more than 3 times, or over $300 million invested. “Now SoftBank Group is here to stay in Miami and is committed to helping the city continue its growth as a lasting global tech hub. It will continue to invest in companies in Miami and beyond,” a SoftBank spokeswoman said.

For SB Opportunity Fund investment and partnership inquiries, visit  theopportunityfund.com/introduce-yourself. Applications for the 2022 Emerge program will formally open later in the year. Founders can pre-register their interest at www.emergeaccelerator.com.

Eight Sleep, a sleep fitness startup, was co-founded by Matteo Franceschetti, Alexandra Zatatain, and Andreasi Basi.

Photo at top of this post: Ontop, co-founded by Santiago Aparicio, Julian Torres and Jaime Abella, streamlines international hiring and payment processes. 

 Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at [email protected]

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