Since our founding in 2004, Mercury has focused on the underrepresented entrepreneur. At first, that focus was simply on the supply-demand imbalance of capital in the middle of the country felt by all entrepreneurs. Our team spent considerable time working with secondary and tertiary venture communities to help level the playing field for startups versus their better funded and resourced coastal counterparts. However, over the past few years as more early-stage capital has found its way to Middle America, Mercury has looked for ways to continue to build value in these communities. We have also deliberately found ways to diversify our deal sources to attract more female and minority-led startups. One of our signature events for these activites is the Mercury Impact Series which began with our Female Founders Breakfast. Mercury is committed to helping entrepreneurs gain the access, knowledge, and resources needed for a successful entrepreneurial journey, and we hope to find compelling investment opportunities along the way.
For our second Mercury Impact Series event, we partnered with the Urban Capital Network in hosting our first Founders of Color breakfast. Studies have shown that underrepresented entrepreneurs, primarily from urban communities, represent a large and meaningful population in Houston, the fourth largest and most diverse city in the country. However, there remains a large wealth, job, and innovation gap in leveraging untapped talent and resources in urban communities throughout Houston. Mercury recognizes that there is tremendous upside for our city in solving this complex problem and will continue to explore ways that Houston’s startup ecosystem can address these disparities and be better allies for these entrepreneurs.
Our first Founders of Color breakfast brought together over 50 entrepreneurs to discuss best practices for maneuvering through the entrepreneurial journey as a minority. With a panel of experts moderated by Mercury’s Heath Butler, the breakfast highlighted the critical pillars of a successful fundraise, common mistakes made by entrepreneurs, and how to build the social capital required for success through networking and mentoring. A special thanks to our panelists for sharing their unique expertise: Abe Chu, co-founder and CMO at NextSeed, Diana Murakhovskaya, co-founder and General Partner at The Artemis Fund, Brian Williams, Managing Partner at Wayne & Reed, and Britney Winters, Founder and CEO at Upgrade. Mercury is encouraged by the conversations that were had and the questions that were asked. We look forward to continuing the Mercury Impact Series in the new year.