Over the last 10+ weeks, I participated in a fellowship program called VC Include. The purpose of the fellowship was to provide emerging managers with an opportunity to learn, connect with other VCs, and build relationships in the LP/investor community. This was my first time participating in a fellowship of any kind, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve always been a fan of structured learning because it forces you to grow and there’s a great sense of completion when it’s over.
At the end of the fellowship, each fellow was interviewed and an article/blog post was written about them. I’ve provided a copy of the article below. I’d also like to give a HUGE thanks to everyone at the VC Include team for the opportunity to participate in the program. You guys did an excellent job!
Article below (link to Article):
Kevin Moore, founder and managing partner of Serac Ventures and author of Starting Your Own Investment Fund, is motivated by a clear gap he sees in the market. “Why in the world isn’t more money going to back diverse management teams? This is a huge missed opportunity that most VCs are just not taking advantage of.”
Closing a Gap for Non-traditional Founders
Serac Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm backing the next generation of companies to reshape the future of business. The firm is investing in non-traditional founders and overlooked markets at the seed stage, with initial checks of $500k to $750k into 25 companies, hoping to deploy a total of $30M to $50M. “Our strategy,” Moore shares, “is to invest in 25 companies, giving us adequate exposure to the sectors we really like.” Those sectors are the creator economy, AI-enabled solutions, fintech, future of work, SaaS, and commerce enablement.
“Since we’re investing at the seed-stage we know our companies have a ways to go before they exit,” he points out. “So it’s important for us to provide additional value by way of introductions to potential customers and investors and provide strategic and operational support.” Moore and his team are confident that they can help companies get to their next major inflection point, which for most seed stage companies is raising a Series A round. “We know that not every one of our companies will succeed. However, it’s our goal to work closely with every company to make sure they have all the tools they need to succeed because we don’t know which are the 4 or 5 companies that will ultimately drive the performance of the fund.”
Mitigating the Biggest Barriers
“At the top of the highest mountains of the world, there are huge ice formations called seracs,” Moore explains. “For mountaineers, these are the hardest obstacles to get through before you reach the summit.”
It’s these massive obstacles that Serac Ventures gets its name from. “As a firm,” Moore says, “our mentality is that we can help these founders navigate the obstacles that prevent many underrepresented founders from accomplishing their goals: barriers to capital and barriers to networks. It’s not a lack of talent,” he emphasizes. “It’s these other things.”
After many years working in VC, Moore felt compelled to carry out his own research around deployment trends he was observing. “I started looking at the data across the industry, and seeing that less than 1% of venture capital goes to these groups, but that when these groups get the dollars, they tend to outperform.” When he began to look more deeply, he found other powerful data points, including:
- Companies with more diverse boards are 33% more profitable (McKinsey & Co. — Delivering Through Diversity).
- Companies with more diverse teams are 35% higher performing and almost twice as innovative as non-diverse teams (Forbes — 3 Benefits of Diversity in the Workforce).
- Companies led by diverse founders make decisions twice as fast up to 90% of the time (BCG — Why Women-Owned Startups Are A Better Bet).
Investing in the Missing Link
While working at a VC fund of funds, Moore began to see that, even when funds were doing relatively well, they could be doing better. “There was an opportunity to improve, and the one thing I thought was the missing link was diversity among the types of founders they were backing.” And so he set out to take on the work he didn’t see anyone else prioritizing. “I thought, ‘If they’re not gonna do it, I’ll build Serac Ventures to do it.’ We have to exist,” he says passionately. “Otherwise it’s never going to get better.”
He took on this particular work because he believes investment and trust in people who come from all different geographies, cultures, and experiences is long overdue. “At Serac, we’re looking for founders who see the world differently and have different perspectives on how to solve problems.”
The Serac Ventures Guild
A unique differentiator that Moore and his team have cultivated is the Serac Ventures Guild, a handpicked group of highly skilled advisors with deep experience across multiple sectors. Once per quarter, founders have the opportunity to present a problem of practice and get individualized feedback from the members of the Guild.
“What the Guild is intended to do,” Moore offers, “is accelerate the development of these companies and fill knowledge gaps.” The structure creates space for founders to receive guidance on whatever it is that they need support with. From customer introductions to business development strategy, tactical operations, marketing, or product development, Serac Ventures can offer insights and solutions based on the particular needs of the founders in their network.
Additional Differentiators: Operational Expertise and Geographic Diversity
“I was a partner at a firm and know what it takes to run successful operations,” Moore shares. “And I’ve also brought on team members with deep operational experience who’ve grown companies with billion-dollar outcomes. We’re experienced investors who know what drivers are needed to take a company to the next level. We can connect founders with investors as well as potential acquirers down the line.”
And while many firms boast similar differentiating factors, Serac Ventures has the unique added element of geographic diversity, given that they’re based in Oklahoma City. “Because I’m located in the middle of the country,” Moore says, “I see a lot of deals that other venture capital firms just aren’t going to see.”
He adds that deals coming out of this region are often priced better and that entrepreneurs in the middle of the country have learned to do more with less. “I think that diverse founders and women have learned to do that in whatever market they’re in, but even more so in markets where there’s not an abundance of venture capital dollars.”
Motivated by Firsthand Experience
“It took me 17 years to prepare for what I’m doing now. I’ve worked on both sides of the market, in private and public markets. I understand the way the financial system operates.” Moore’s many years of preparation included time at Morgan Stanley, Northwestern Mutual, and the Federal Reserve; time as a general partner investing directly into companies; and time as a limited partner investing directly into fund managers.
But it’s not just this professional experience that guides Moore’s career compass. “My motivation runs a little bit deeper than just running a VC firm.”
Moore’s parents, an American factory worker and Jamaican homemaker, started their family of four in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When they divorced, circumstances took a sharp turn for Moore and his brother, still young children at the time. The two boys lived with their father, who, despite working all the time, struggled to provide a stable environment for himself and his sons. Having lived through the far-reaching impacts of poverty, Moore remembers thinking, “When I grow up, I don’t want my children or my life to be like this.”
A Commitment to Create Impact
After undergrad, Moore relocated to Chicago and began his career as an engineer. During this time, he also began getting interested in finance. Seeing firsthand the ways that investment could shift his own circumstances, he felt called to support others to experience the same positive shifts. “The way I could really impact the world was by using finance to change people’s lives the way I did mine. That was my motivation for getting into this business: wanting to help people.”
And help people he did. “I helped hundreds of people invest in the stock market for the first time, get insurance, create savings and budget plans,” he says of his early years working in finance. Once he got more intimately engaged with the industry, he realized that he didn’t just want to invest in a public company; he wanted to invest capital into companies before they were public and help them grow.
Moore was inspired by the ways that venture capitalists of diverse backgrounds could shift dynamics for individuals, neighborhoods, and even entire regions by investing in others from diverse backgrounds. “To me, it’s the ultimate expression of giving back that I could ever carry out. It took me 17 years to get here. But it’s a dream come true.”
Participating in the VC Include Fellowship
“People say you have to slow down to speed up,” Moore reflects. “That’s how I think about this fellowship. It’s forced us to slow down and think about how and why we do what we do.” This intentional slow-down has ultimately accelerated his work. He reports that having time and guidance to strengthen technical skills while also having the space and support to clarify his personal story and that of his firm has been invaluable.
We’re honored to have a hand in creating conditions that support the growth of VC Include fellows, which in turn supports the transformation of the entire VC landscape. We look forward to seeing the ways that Moore and Serac Ventures continue to mitigate barriers for the talented founders they’re investing in.