They've crossed the ten-figure mark!
Managing partner Adeyemi Ajao helped found Base10 Partners in 2018, focused on using data-driven analytics to scope out investment opportunities in automation tech. Their first Fund 1 raised $137 million in 2018, followed by a $250 million Fund II in 2020. Initially, the company focused on investing in food tech like restaurant marketing company PopMenu, and incubated cloud kitchens company All Day Kitchens. Base10 would choose nearly 30 companies for each fund, giving out large capital of up to $15 million that granted them a 15-20% stake in each company. PopMenu is now valued at $525 million and All Day Kitchens at $375 million.
Now Ajao and his partner TJ Nahigian have just closed their third early-stage fund, totaling $460 million which brings Base10’s total AUM to more than $1 billion. Ajao says it's astounding given that this is the first time a Black-led venture capital firm has gotten over the ten-figure mark.
“It’s crazy that in a world where venture capital raises $150 billion a quarter, we are the first one. There should be multiple by now,” said Ajao.
The San-Francisco based company feels their automated software is the magic, allowing them to identify “megatrends” that they can invest in based on the data, focusing on food, retail and now financial technology (fintech) companies. The software tracks startups in real time using predictive points. Base10 has currently invested in 64 companies that make up about 0.4% of the 15,000 plus companies they’re tracking.
“There are way too many companies out there. By our calculations, there are 110 new deals per day that our VC’s have to look at, so we have to find a way to focus and filter that,” Ajao explained.
While about 60% of the company’s investments have been awarded to minority founders, Base10 is open to all ventures. The company is currently working on supporting the pipeline for Black people to enter into tech and entrepreneurship, donating 1% of their profits to supporting diversity. Just last year, they announced that 50% of carried interest would be allotted to endowments and scholarships at HBCUs as an extension of its first growth stage fund of $250 million.
Ajao says he’s aware that a desire for inclusivity in the sector has not always produced actual results, but he is inspired by the uptick in Black investors and Black-led funds. At a recent dinner with about 20 other Black investors, Ajao admitted that the moment was bittersweet because while hopeful, he realizes there is still so much work to do. While racial reckonings across the nation have called for a bolstering of DEI across sectors, there are still not enough fund managers to even connect with partners on a large scale.
“I think that it’s going to take no time to see the second Black-led fund cross $1 billion… I was not hearing [these] questions four years ago. We shouldn’t let people forget that all these things were said, and all these promises were made. We have to keep going because if not no one will,” said Ajao.
We second that. Congratulations to Adeyemi and the entire Base10 team!
Photo Courtesy of Sifted.edu