Tech & Innovation September 10, 2021 at 03:00 pm

These two London-based entrepreneurs want to make Brixton the Black Silicon Valley

Abu Mubarik September 10, 2021 at 03:00 pm

September 10, 2021 at 03:00 pm | Tech & Innovation

Karl Lokko and Cyril Lutterodt. Photo credit: FT

Karl Lokko is a venture capital investor. Now in his thirties, Lokko grew up in a difficult community where gang violence was common and he even saw some of his friends murdered. For him, the system has been rigged against people of color which keeps people who look like him from joining him in the tech space or exploring other economic opportunities.

According to FT.com, Lokko and his partner, Cyril Lutterodt, have teamed up to start Black Seed, Europe’s first venture fund group that is led by Black founders for Black founders. They are hoping to use Black Seed to help Black-led startups to access funding.

Through Black Seed, they are hoping to raise over £10m ($13m) to take stakes in promising Black-led start-ups and already, the idea is attracting some prominent investors such as Saul Klein and property chief Ric Lewis. According to Lutterodt, they are hoping to make Brixton the next Silicon Valley.

“Seed is a community,” he told FT. “We want to find the next Steve Jobs. The next black Jeff Bezos, the next black Bill Gates, the next black Larry Page. Black rebel ideas.”

The duo first met when Lokko was introduced to Lutterodt by another Black entrepreneur. Lutterodt had just returned from the U.S. after dropping out of the University of Texas to fund a robotics start-up.

He wanted to start a new start-up in the UK but struggled to find funding despite pitching to more than 100 venture capitalists and also taking part in several accelerator programs. He wanted Lokko, who then was an adviser to a range of businesses includes Prince Harry, to use his network to help him.

According to Lokko and Lutterodt, few Black people are seeking to create businesses due to a lack of opportunity. “We are trying to break down systemic barriers that people face when raising capital,” said Lutterodt.

They want Black Seed to be seen as a vehicle for the economic empowerment of the Black community. They want to tap into every entrepreneurial community that lacks access to capital. The two want to build a seed-funded portfolio of up to 30 Black-led startups across the UK within three years.

Aside from getting prominent venture capitalists to back them, Lokko and Lutterodt are also in talks with a well-known rap artist planning to launch a childcare brand, a female-led UberEats for African Caribbean foods, an AI-powered family planning app and a female-led fintech making payment hardware, according to FT.

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