Black Tech Nation Ventures vows to help startups with marginalized founders thrive after closing $50 million inaugural fund

There’s also a goal to bring companies to Pittsburgh, cofounder Kelauni Jasmyn told

The Black Tech Nation Ventures team

The Black Tech Nation Ventures team BTNV

By Atiya Irvin-Mitchell

Black Tech Nation Ventures, the venture capital arm of nonprofit Black Tech Nation, began March by closing on a $50 million inaugural fund. It will use the money to make Pittsburgh a haven for Black technologists and entrepreneurs, according to cofounder Kelauni Jasmyn.

“I think the entire goal is to not only for folks in the city but for those outside of Pittsburgh,” Jasmyn told “Really folks of all backgrounds to potentially receive support or access and funding to build their ideas.“

The Pittsburgh-based venture firm, founded in 2021, has always hoped BTNV could fill in the gaps for marginalized founders when it comes to gaining capital.

Over the years, BTNV has backed startups such as Kloopify (one of’s 2022 RealLIST Startups), fintech company EMTECH, mobile vendor Goodfynd, and other companies based in Atlanta, Boston, District of Columbia, Indianapolis and New York.

Now, Jasmyn said the venture firm is eager to support the next generation of promising startups, with a focus on supporting Black, Latinx, female, indigenous and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs building tech companies.

Only about 1% of venture capital dollars in 2021 went to Black founders, according to Crunchbase.

Firms aiming to ameliorate this disparity have recently been targeted. In the aftermath of the 2023 Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action, some have called funds that focus on minority founders discriminatory. Recently, Atlanta-based venture capital firm Fearless Fund was sued by conservative activists who say that by only offering grants to Black woman business owners, the fund was excluding white business owners. Some similar funds are losing investors, and even having trouble maintaining staffing.

Black Tech Nation Ventures itself is backed by Alphabet, First National Bank, Mark Cuban, First Close Partners and Bank of America. Typically, the firm provides pre-seed and seed funding in either $250,000 or $1 million amounts.

It hopes to draw companies to the Steel City as well as encourage companies founded in Pittsburgh to remain. The current goal, per Jasmyn, was for 25% of the companies BTNV backs to be Pittsburgh-based. So far just 1 of 11 fits the bill, but the search is on for more.

“There’s a lot of activity, a lot of events, a lot of programs on the nonprofit side,” Jasmyn said. “And then on the VC side, a lot of intentional looking, attentional scouting for companies, particularly out of the Pittsburgh area.”

Jasmyn believes that closing on this $50 million fund is a sign that not only is the Pittsburgh tech ecosystem sustainable, but that Black entrepreneurs are worthy of investment.

“It was important on a larger scale, just because I think it sends a message that it’s possible to participate in an opportunity and capital access, even when you don’t look like the status quo,” Jasmyn said. “I think I’m an example of that, as a Black woman fund manager on my first fund that I had a goal and a dream and was able to make it happen.”

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. The story first appeared on