Over the past two years, as technology companies continued to struggle with diversifying their work forces, Los Angeles-based venture capitalist Kobie Fuller wrestled with how to solve the problem.
As a black professional himself, Fuller had experienced the frustrations and isolation that can sometimes come with being the only person in the room who looked the way he did.
“For years, companies and venture capitalists have asked me for advice about where they can find amazing Black talent and I had my standard answers — which were basically limited to people in my network, [historically black colleges and universities], and a few niche associations,” said Fuller in a statement.
The company, which launches today with $2.5 million from Upfront Ventures, alongside Sinai Ventures, Human Ventures, High Alpha and angel investors like Paul Judge, Peggy Alford and Willie Alford, is the fruit of two years of labor from Fuller and his co-founders La Mer Walker and Emily Slade.
In a way, it’s similar to how GirlBoss is creating a network for professional women that companies can access for recruiting.
But Valence wants to go beyond simply creating a LinkedIn for black talent, according to Fuller.
Fuller met Slade, who acknowledges she does not look like a typical candidate for Valence’s community, at a Summit Series conference in Los Angeles about a year ago.
Following the launch, the company says its next step will be to bring its footprint to an increasingly global network of professionals representing other diaspora communities.