Inspired by poverty, Luke Cooper starts VC firm named after inventor Lewis Latimer to help Black founders

Abu Mubarik August 04, 2023
Luke Cooper, he is a serial entrepreneur, M&A lawyer. Photo credit: Forbes/Latimer Ventures

Meet Luke Cooper; he is a serial entrepreneur, M&A lawyer, and founder of Latimer Ventures, a venture capital based in Baltimore which he named in honor of Lewis Latimer, an African-American inventor born to fugitive slaves.

Prior to starting his current venture, he started and sold two enterprise technology companies between 2006 and 2020. Today, his venture firm invests in startups founded by Black entrepreneurs. Cooper started the firm in 2022 with a focus on early-stage, post-seed investments in enterprise tech startups. He believes that Black founders have higher success rates than non-Black founders.

“Within the enterprise technology, Black founders are over-performing—1 in 3 is getting Series A funding vs. 1 in 15 overall,” he told Forbes. “A Series A is a gold badge for a founder: It means you have customers who believe in your product and institutional investors who are backing you.” He continues, “Investing in these companies is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also profitable.”

According to multiple reports, black founders in the USA get less than one percent of venture funding and the situation is even dire in the United Kingdom. Also, a 2020 report by Citigroup found that over a 20-year period, the U.S. lost about $16 trillion of GDP because of racially biased systems. Cooper believes he can be helpful to Black entrepreneurs because he understands the challenges they go through.

“A founder can find tons of information all over the internet on how to start, grow and exit a company,” said Cooper. “But if they’ve never done that before, nor experienced it alongside others, it seems insurmountable.”

Before starting Latimer Ventures, he co-founded Caldwell Technology Solutions, a cybersecurity software business. The firm was sold for about $55 million. In 2013, he started another company called Fixt, a SaaS-based mobile device repair app, after he dropped his phone on a bus. He later sold the company for an undisclosed sum.

After a brief hiatus, he started to invest in a series of startups and subsequently launched his own venture capital firm. He is committed to raising $50 million by November although he has a commitment of $20 million as of now. So far, he has invested $2 million in four companies— Pienso, AI Squared, Meter Feeder, and CyDeploy, Forbes reported.

Cooper comes from a poor background. He was raised by his mother alone because his father was in prison when he was 12 years old. However, his life changed when he got involved in a program called Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship in New Haven.

He got a basketball scholarship to attend college, trained as a lawyer, and practiced for a while before pursuing MBA.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 4, 2023


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