The State of Tech & Culture: UNperfect Parent

Periodically, Cross Culture Ventures compiles a list of cultural trends that we believe to be influencing global popular culture, termed Culture Shifts. These shifts represent areas that we, collectively, believe hold great opportunities for growth, innovation, and of course, investments in the coming year. Black Enterprise published our first State of Tech & Culture report, UNperfect Parent. Additionally, Sequoia Blodgett reviewed the report and interviewed Marlon Nichols on the topic.  Access the report, plus read the review and watch the video interview.


Troy Carter Talks Navigating Tech Through the Hip-Hop Lens

Cross Culture Venture’s Troy Carter took to the stage at the 2017 Black Enterprises TechConnext Summit in San Francisco, CA to discuss navigating tech investing through the Hip-Hop lens.  During his one to one conversation with Black Enterprise’s Sequoia Blodgett, Carter covers several topics including the responsibility of tech leaders  to consider the potential societal effects of their inventions. Watch the full interview. 


Marlon Nichols, A Techweek 100 Winner

Techweek is a purpose-built conference and media company in 8 cities (including D.C., NY, and LA), with week-long conferences throughout the year. Techweek partners with tech leaders, corporations, and the community to build a unique experience for investors, entrepreneurs, and Hero Companies.  Techweek Awards shine a national spotlight on innovators, leaders and startups. It is an opportunity for the tech community to celebrate success. Eight key categories and the Techweek 100 help establish the credibility to further raise capital and acquire talent. Cross Culture Venture’s Marlon Nichols was recognized as a 2017 award winner in the investor category.  View the full list of distinguished honorees.


Black Fellowship Students Headed From HBCUs to VC Boardrooms

In mid-October, eleven college students will be flying to California for an opportunity that would be the envy of any Ivy League MBA candidate—they’ll meet the venture capital firm partners who will personally mentor them throughout the school year.  A key supporter was Marlon Nichols, a founding partner at Culver City, CA-based Cross Culture Ventures. With Nichols’ help, Mujhid created the first of what may become a series of online courses about venture financing and other entrepreneurship topics. They also widened the base of VC firms that will mentor Venture Capital Fellowship students this year to include Oakland, CA-based Kapor Capital; two San Francisco firms, 500 Startups and, as well as Cross Culture Ventures.  Read the xconomy article.


Cross Culture Ventures Leading The Charge On Developing Young VCs

“ announced a strategic partnership with Cross Culture Ventures (CCV) that enables us to bridge the funding gap for Black/ Brown founders. Through collaboration with CCV, we have produced our first online course, Venture Capital 101, which goes live on October 2nd. With this course, young black and brown entrepreneurs and aspiring VCs can learn how startups actually get funded, supported, and foster plentiful relationships with investors.” Read the full announcement on Medium.


One Reason Black Founders Don’t Get Enough Funding? Black VCs Don’t, Either

The fact that African-American founders have limited access to investment has been well documented, but you might not know that that problem is replicated in the venture capital world, too. In recent years, several black-owned or -directed VC funds and firms have opened their doors, with a focus on minority- and women-owned businesses. But as it turns out, many VCs are hitting the same obstacle as the founders they’re trying to invest in: access to capital…“there are well-intentioned LPs out there that haven’t quite figured it out yet, and I want to believe they’re working to figure it out.”–Marlon Nichols.  Read the Fast Company piece.


Silicon Valley’s blind spots are costing venture capitalists huge opportunities

“Jerry’s mom is representative of over 150 million Americans who can’t access $500 in an emergency. And when Jerry was in college, he wanted to dedicate his career to helping people like her. He got a job on Wall Street and attended business school first to understand how banking worked, until he had enough experience to develop a solution of his own. His company, called LendStreet, finds individuals who are responsible, conscientious citizens who have, through bad luck, found themselves in deep debt at often predatory interest rates (medical, credit card, student loans), buys up and consolidates their loans, and refinances them at a fair interest rate.” Read the Business Insider piece.


Podcast network Gimlet Media has raised another $5 million — this time from ad giant WPP

Yet another vote of confidence in podcasting — this time from the people who buy ads for a living: WPP, the biggest ad holding company in the world, has put $5 million in Gimlet Media, the Brooklyn-based podcast startup. This is an extension of the $15 million round Gimlet raised last month, which valued the company at $55 million pre-money; it brings the company’s total funding to $27 million. Read the recode article.


Welcome to #LongLA

With the support of our partners  Gunderson DettmerFirst Republic BankTriNetEarly Growth Financial Services, Diageo/Bulleit Fronter Whiskey and DJ Mick,  we brought together various members of the LA startup ecosystem for a rooftop cocktail party.  The purpose of the event was to welcome Marlon to LA and to celebrate Cross Culture Ventures in #LongLA.  You can view photos from the event here.


Responsibilities and expectations for various roles within a VC firm

Marlon’s most recent blog post… “I often speak with people interested to enter the venture capital profession as well as analysts, associates and principles at other VC firms. Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions related to the following. 1- what does it take to launch a venture firm? 2- what does it take to become a general partner at a venture firm? 3- What are the roles and responsibilities of the people on an investment team at a venture firm? I created the below table as an attempt to answer those questions and share with a broad audience.” Check out the post and table on medium.


Wonderschool start-up helps teachers open their own pre-schools

ABC7 San Francisco (KGO)–If you combine a teacher’s salary with the Bay Area’s high-housing costs, you have an economic crisis. That’s why some teachers are now channeling a newfound entrepreneurial spirit. Bay Area preschool teachers have discovered a new path to financial security and freedom through a start-up called Wonderschool. Wonderschool targets preschool teachers and other educators and helps them open in home child care programs. It takes care of all the licensing, marketing and even the collection of tuition. Watch the ABC7 video and read the story.


“In Residence”, changing the face of venture capital & tech

“We view Cross Culture Ventures as a vehicle of change…we are taking yet another step towards our goal of changing the face of venture. This time we’re focusing our attention on talented professionals who don’t have experience in venture capital, but seek it. We have titled the program “In Residence”. The stated goals of the program are that the participants learn the business of venture capital investing, add significant value to our portfolio companies, and become attractive candidates for partner track roles at other venture firms. In order for this program to be successful, the candidates must have stellar accomplishments and possess skill sets that can be useful to startups. As such, we’ve welcomed Sian Morson and Rashad Drakeford to our team as Entrepreneur and Marketer in Residence respectively.” — Marlon Nichols, Managing Partner at Cross Culture Ventures.  Check out the Medium post


Marshawn Lynch Teams Up With Hingeto To Help Athletes Build Their Brands

Hingeto and Lynch’s Beast Mode brand launched their “create-a-brand” platform on Wednesday, promising end-to-end brand support for athletes or others with loyal fanbases who want to sell their own apparel outside of the control of the likes of an Adidas or Nike. Hingeto helps with the brand’s designs and then manages the commerce nitty gritty on the back end, from a webstore to production and fulfillment. “A lot of agencies will create a brand for you, but they’ll try to force you to produce thousands of products,” says Robinson, who founded Hingeto in 2015. “We like to approach it more as a partnership.” Read the Forbes piece.


VCs don’t love podcasting, but Gimlet Media has raised another $15 million anyway

You are used to reading about media companies raising money, but you haven’t heard much about podcast companies raising money. So let’s change that: Gimlet Media, the podcast studio/network behind shows like StartUp and Reply All, has raised $15 million. Co-founder Matt Lieber won’t comment on valuation, but does say that the company was initially looking to raise $10 million but expanded the round to accommodate investor interest. A recent study commissioned by podcast companies, including Gimlet, pegs the podcast industry’s 2016 revenue at $119 million. That’s peanuts compared to the billions going into search and video. But the same study thinks that number will nearly double, to $220 million, this year. Check out the piece on Recode.


Spotify Partners with Gimlet Media to Take on Apple

The No. 1 paid music streaming service has agreed to promote podcasts in its app and via ads on buses. In return, the hosts of “Reply All,” “Pod Save America” and “The Bill Simmons Podcast” agreed to talk up Spotify on social media and during their shows, which cover topics ranging from internet subculture and politics to sports. “The potential for Spotify is to introduce this caliber of storytelling to a much larger audience, who are already in a listening mindset. I see a growing effort to make podcasts more accessible on the platform. And they’re making progress.” –Matt Lieber, co-founder and president of Gimlet Media.  Read the piece on BloombergTechnology.


Gunnar Lovelace on How Grocers Feel about Amazon

When Amazon announced its intention to buy Whole Foods last month, the news shook brick-and-mortar grocery retailers. The deal “confirms that big institutional retailers are in serious trouble,” says Gunnar Lovelace, founder and CEO of Thrive Market. “I think this is Blockbuster vs Netflix. For traditional retailers, there was a lot of fear before… and I think there’s a lot more fear now.” Thrive, on the other hand, might just emerge unscathed from Amazon’s grocery invasion, because Thrive “never set out to out-Amazon Amazon,” Lovelace says. “Amazon has half a billion products on the catalog; we’re a highly curated community of 5,000 products. So we speak to the values of the health-and-wellness consumers in a way that Amazon just can never do.” View the Yahoo! Finance interview.


Safaricom and  mSurvey Launch Consumer Wallet

Safaricom, which has been working together with mSurvey, has launched a solution called Consumer Wallet, an online, mobile platform that uses SMS to map offline consumer spending habits and trends. The research-based platform will take advantage of mobile phone penetration and messaging services to measure and quantify Kenya’s cash-based economy and encourage modern and real-time data collecting techniques over dated methods that are mostly time-consuming and tedious. Read more here.


Gimlet Media’s Alex Blumberg on the business of podcasts

Alex Blumberg, Gimlet Media co-founder & CEO and co-founder of “Planet Money” podcast, joined CNBC’s Squawk Box to discuss the growing podcast space and how they’re making money.  During the conversation Alex covered audio content hit making, the revival of podcasts with 60 Million plus listeners, serialized fiction delivered via podcast, the business of podcast and more. Watch the Squawk Box clip.


Suzy Ryoo Joins Latest Kauffman Fellows Class

Continuing in its mission to accelerate the development of innovation and venture capital industry leaders, the Kauffman Fellows Program is excited to announce Class 22, comprised of 51 top-tier investors hailing from five continents. Among the 51 is Cross Culture VC’s Suzy Ryoo. The majority (61%) of this class are partners, managing directors, or CEOs of their firms. Kauffman Fellows’ 2-year, mastery-level program challenges already-successful investors to be even more self-aware and nimble in their thinking. The Program is dedicated to promoting diversity: 35% of the class are women and 8% are from traditionally under-represented groups. Read the Kauffman Fellows Program announcement.


Cross Culture VC Recognized at Culture Creators Awards

When it comes to the onward movement of culture, it takes the effort of many. To celebrate those who have contributed significantly thus far, Culture Creators teamed up with VIBE for the 2nd Annual Awards Brunch to acknowledge the hard-working figures and culture disrupters who have played a pivotal role in driving innovation in the past and present. Cross Culture VC’s Marlon Nichols was honored alongside Russel Simmons, who received the Culture Creators ICON Award. Read the Vibe recap for a list of all honorees and watch the red carpet interviews.


Wonderschool raises $2 million to launch in-home preschools

Wonderschool, whose online marketplace helps parents find in-home child care education programs, today announced a seed round of $2 million, led by First Round Capital and Cross Culture Ventures.  SoftTech VC, Lerer Ventures, FundersClub, and Edelweiss also joined. Bennett claims to have 150 parents enrolled in Wonderschool’s programs, which are located in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The startup will use the new money to expand to 15 new cities across the U.S. and to hire more people to grow its team. It is also in the process of acquiring one of its competitors, Daybear. Read the coverage by VentureBeatForbes, Product Hunt, Tech Crunch, Business Insider, and PR News Wire.


VC-Backed Baby Food Company Yumi Launches

Yumi, a new venture backed nutrition and wellness brand for babies announced their launch in California. The science-based early childhood meal service delivers fresh, organic meals to your doorstep, providing the most convenient and healthy option in the market today. “We set out to create the ultimate ‘worry-free’ baby food, and our mission is to empower parents with better choices and trustworthy information” — Evelyn Rusli, Co-Founder.  Yumi received venture backing from August Capital, Brand Foundry, NEA, Cross Culture Ventures and several prominent angel investors. Read the VC Marketplace piece.


Marlon Nichols, 2017 Culture Creator Honoree

During the 2017 BET Awards Weekend, VIBE will be partnering with Culture Creators for the second annual Culture Creators Awards Brunch. Culture Creators is an organization comprised of and committed to honoring innovators and leaders in music, technology, film, television, and fashion, among other platforms. Past honorees include industry mavens such as Ethiopia Habtemariam, Michael “Blue” Williams, Juliette Jones, Yvette Noel-Schure, Mark Pitts, Chris Atlas, Andre Harrell, DJ Drama…Benefits from the brunch support the Culture Creators Scholarship at Howard University, which is awarded to graduating seniors pursuing careers in creative arts and media. Read the Vibe piece.



Universal Music artists now have another channel to shift tickets and merch, courtesy of a deal with conversational commerce pioneer and developer of ‘good’ bots ReplyYes. The company’s deal with UMG, announced on Friday, is described as “an exclusive agreement to create a host of new engagement and shopping opportunities for UMG artists and their fans worldwide”, including for tickets, merch and recorded music.  Read the iQ article.


Music And Investing Tidbits Through The Career Of Troy Carter

This article is about a music mogul, but he is not a producer, singer or rapper. It is someone more known for pulling strings behind the scenes—Troy Carter. This article will walk through how Troy discovered and cultivated Lady Gaga for nearly a decade, to how he has gone on to co-founding Cross Culture Ventures (CCV). In between, he invested in companies such as Dropbox, Warby Parker, Lyft and Uber with his company, Atom Factory. Read the Blavity article.


UNperfect Parents are Smart Parents

For generations, we believed in the impossible ideal of the Parent, someone who has it all — ambitious career, picture perfect family, and with time to spare for homemade cookies. The definition of family has changed since the 50s. Today the concepts of the single Dad, the single Mom, co-parenting, and same sex parents all represent accepted versions of family. As such the traditional roles and responsibilities of Mom and Dad have changed. Millennials are on board with this idea of the UNperfect parent…they are getting all the help they can from tech enabled services such as Wonderschool. Read the Medium post.


VC in Residence Showcases Miami’s Growing Interest in Entrepreneurship

Miami, long known for Sandy Beaches, beautiful sun, exciting Latin culture, and hordes of the elderly, is now developing a growing interest in entrepreneurship. Although it is notoriously difficult to develop a successful technology startup cluster, Miami certainly has a fighting chance. Marlon Nichols, the first VC-in-residence in the program was impressed by Miami’s progress. “After spending two weeks on the ground in Miami, I’ve met with a diverse group of entrepreneurs, investors, government officials, accelerators, and co-working facilities. The diversity among the entrepreneurs comes in culture, stage of company, and, most importantly, ideas. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by the angel investor activity: one entrepreneur reported raising $6m from 50 angels. I look forward to spending more time here,” Nichols said. Read the Inc. article.


NPR: An intimate conversation with Troy Carter

NPR’s Guy Raz sat down with Cross Culture Ventures co-founder, Troy Carter, to discuss his journey from failed rapper to Eve to Gaga to Atom Factory to angel investor to venture capital investor.  During their intimate conversation Carter shares the tough times that made him the winner he is today.  This is a ‘raw’ story about entrepreneurship, life, and just how hard it is to find success.  Listen to the NPR interview to gain some insight into why Troy always looks for resiliency and tenacity in all founders that he backs.


Tech, Beats & Bytes with Marlon Nichols

A social gathering of taste makers in food, entertainment and technology. Conversations, libations, music and knowledge over R&B & Old School Hip-Hop. This week we are joined by venture capitalist and co-founder of Cross Culture Ventures,  Marlon Nichols. Watch the video interview.


Forbes: mSurvey And Safaricom Continue Kenya’s Mobile Money Revolution

M-Pesa now has more than 17 million users, earned $400 million for Safaricom in 2016 and carries more than 50% of Kenya’s GDP. Other mobile operations based out of Kenya’s Nairobi are also becoming increasingly important, one such company is mSurvey. The Consumer Wallet is a platform that leverages mSurvey’s mobile messaging platform to track and measure Kenya’s cash economy in real-time, providing businesses, entrepreneurs and investors in the country insight into the spending habits of the offline consumer. Read the Forbes article.


What would a VC say about that? Startups get a chance to find out

Pearson talked Nichols into agreeing to be Blacktech Week’s first VC in Residence. The program, first of its kind, will have top VC’s spend a month in Miami advising and guiding black, Latinx and Caribbean entrepreneurs. “You can’t beat coming to Miami in April, but more importantly, Miami is rich in culture and our investment thesis is about understanding global culture to predict where consumers will spend their dollars,” said Nichols, who leads one of the relative few black-led venture capital funds in the U.S. “Black and Latinx cultures have been known for early adopters, so for understanding what is going on in those communities, Miami is a melting pot. For me it is a lot of learning.” Read the Miami Herald article.

Miami Beach Coast, Florida (Photo by Hoberman Collection/UIG via Getty Images)

Disrupting Venture Capital: VC in Residence Miami

Thanks to the Knight Foundation and Code Fever Miami Marlon Nichols will be serving as VC in Residence in the city of Miami for the month of April. Miami boasts a diverse, emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem…Miami’s cultural and ethnic makeup also uniquely positions the city as a startup hub. “I view the VCIR as an opportunity to learn about an emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem that is steeped in Latinx, Caribbean, and Black culture…not only will I learn about some of the challenges/ opportunities specific to those communities and build relationships with the investor community there, but also help sharp founders think through the businesses they are building.–Marlon Nichols

Read Medium post, & early coverage by ForbesSouth Florida Business Journal.


MLT Rising Leader Spotlight

Management Leadership for Tomorrow interviewed Trevor Thomas-Uribe about being named one of the 2016 40 Under 40 Top Diverse Talents in Silicon Valley and his path to venture capital. “MLT’s focus on scrappiness, and superior preparation was great life advice that has stayed with me. In fact scrappiness is a characteristic we look for in the founders we back.”– Thomas-Uribe  Read the MLT blog post.


Choosing The Right Investor: More Science Than Art

Any venture-backed startup founder knows that choosing the right investor is just as important as building the right team. I’ve seen my fair share of great companies fail because the founders didn’t choose the right investors for their needs. To be honest, even I’ve been affected – I’ve taken money from good, great and just ok investors. Luckily, I learned quickly to find great investors that support my vision. Marlon Nichols of Cross Culture Ventures is an example of one of those great investors. –Rodney Williams, CEO at LISNR  Read the article on Forbes.



Inside the Valley, Imira is perfectly positioned to make over the Black hair industry. Born to a family of hairstylists, he grew up in a single-parent household in Oakland, with a mom who raised him to be “independent and free-spirited.”…With his determination, hustle and spirit, Imira has been great with little to no resources…“Low-hanging fruit,” shrugs Imira, never the businessman to turn down an offer. And as Silicon Valley continues to turn a blind eye, such fruit is his for the taking. Read the piece on Ozy.


Creating from the Edge: Tech and Culture Collide

Tiffany Crawford (CEO @ CREATE) previews Marlon Nichols’ talk on the intersection of tech and culture. The conversation will take place at wework during SXSW 2017. “The opportunity this creates for founders that have been traditionally excluded is unprecedented. Culture, “that which drives human behavior”, is absolutely necessary to understand when building technology companies in the third wave. Any company that does not understand their consumers’ needs at an intrinsic and cultural level is starting with a significant disadvantage as competition accelerates” — said Nichols. Read the Huffington Post article.


“The only woman in the room” & how to change that by 2186

Suzy Ryoo, venture partner at Cross Culture Ventures, shares her views on and offers suggestions to combat gender inequality in tech and venture capital.  “Our industry faces a stark gender imbalance. Whether in entertainment, engineering or venture capital, gender issues are woven into the fabric of a woman’s professional identity…Last November, the World Economic Forum shared that the gender gap would not close until 2186. One year earlier, the expectation was 2133. It’s 2017, and we’ve stumbled backwards” — Suzy Ryoo.  Read the post on LinkedIn.


Safaricom and mSurvey launch Consumer Wallet to map Africa’s cash economy

Kenya’s leading mobile provider, Safaricom, is teaming up with mSurvey to launch Consumer Wallet ― an online platform using SMS to map Africa’s cash-based economy. The partnership aims to solve the problem of quantifying consumer spending habits and trends on the continent, where > 50% of economic activity and employment occurs in informal sectors. “To invest in Africa, you have to understand its consumers,”–Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, on the value of the new platform to businesses looking to tap the continent’s cash-based economy. Read the article on Tech Crunch.


Pitchbook: 28 black founders and investors making an impact in tech

In honor of Black History Month, Pitchbook compiled a list of 28 founders and VCs who are making an impact in the tech industry.  The Cross Culture Ventures partnership is well represented in this group.  View the full list here.


Spotify Taps Gimlet Media for Original Podcasts on Music & Pop Culture

Spotify is stepping up the game with more original podcasts being produced by some of the more popular and budding podcast networks, such as Slate’s Panoply and Gimlet Media, the production company behind the tech-minded Startup and Reply All podcasts as well as the beloved but currently defunct Mystery Show.  Read the article here.


mSurvey Transforms MKT Research w/ Mobile Tech.

Nairobi-based startup mSurvey is transforming the way entrepreneurs do market research by leveraging mobile phone messaging technologies to extract previously unobtainable data from the growing community of cellphone users across the world. “The problem mSurvey is solving is connecting the invisible consumer in emerging markets. It is giving businesses in these markets the ability to engage these consumers at scale all through agnostic mobile messaging,” – Kenfield Griffith  Read the article and watch the video.


ReplyYes Raises $6.5M Series A

“ReplyYes blends cutting edge artificial intelligence and machine learning, and human-assisted AI technologies into a mobile commerce platform solution that is truly unique,” said Troy Carter, managing partner at Cross Culture Ventures. “Brands that want to directly engage and transact with their customers on an ongoing basis, and not face disintermediation from e-commerce giants and social networks, would be well advised to explore next generation mobile e-commerce solutions like ReplyYes.” Read the article here.


Skurt named 1 of 5 travel startups rethinking car rentals beyond sharing

A cluster of comparatively under-the-radar startups have caught our notice: Two let travelers book specific cars on lots rather than broad vehicle categories (like “compact”), two are bringing metasearch to car rentals, and one is a hidden jewel of Hawaii’s tech scene. -Sean… Read the article here


Hustlers Make the Best Entrepreneurs

Sequoia Blodgett interviewed Marlon Nichols for Black Enterprise The Code.  They discussed entrepreneurship, cultural investing, the CCV portfolio, and more. “Do you have tenacity, fortitude, a certain level of scrappiness, and most importantly, hustle?” asked Nichols. “Are you ready to make those hard decisions like fire your best friend that you started this company with?” Read & watch the interview here or listen to the podcast via soundcloud or iTunes.


Cross Culture Ventures & DBL discuss impact investing & trends

Cross Culture Ventures’ Marlon Nichols joins Nancy Pfund, founder & managing partner at DBL Partners, for PitchPerfect Silicon Valley to discuss impact investing and cultural trends.  Watch the panel discussion here and  watch the 1:1 interview here.


CNBC “On The Money” talks with Thrive Market co-CEO, Nick Green

“Our idea is to make healthy living affordable and accessible for anyone…We offer natural and organic products, shelf-stable products you put in your pantry…that are 25 to 50 percent off what you find in a conventional retail store,” Thrive Market co-CEO Nick Green told CNBC’s “On The Money”.  Watch the video and read the piece here.


Huffington Post: Cross Culture Ventures betting on on culture

For Huffington Post, Mark Hall talks with Trevor Thomas-Uribe about Cross Culture Ventures.  “Unlike other VC firms, CCV holds a strong belief that global culture is changing, presenting unique opportunities for those able to get in early on investments…Our approach is non-traditional—we posit that global culture is a meta-value that is investable. We invest in early stage companies that we believe are most likely to attach to that value.  Read the interview here.


Yahoo! Finance Named Thrive Market a Top Five Startup to watch in 2017

Thrive Market is in good company on Yahoo! Finances’ five startups to watch in 2017.  The other companies include Slack, Wework, Magic Leap, and Affirm. “Two-year-old organic grocery delivery service Thrive Market raised $111 million this year and a total of $141 million…targeting middle-class Americans who live in places without a Whole Foods (WFM) around the corner, the company guarantees its products cost 25% to 50% less than what you would see at a normal health foods store…But as it grows its private label offerings, more families may be opting to choose Thrive.  Read the piece here.


Fortune: Investing through the lens of culture

Kauffman Fellows Chairman Phil Wickham interviews Cross Culture VC’s Marlon Nichols for Fortune. The conversation covers the genesis of cultural investing plus making bets on the democratization of healthy life styles, messaging, the needs of minority consumers/ entrepreneurs, and much more…  Read the full interview and watch some of the video clips here.


Can fintech startups coexist with banks

Trevor Thomas-Uribe sits down with portfolio founder Jerry Nemorin of Lendstreet to chat about how fintech startups can efficiently  work with banks, and Lendstreet’s unique story of disrupting through partnership.  Watch the video here.


Building the Future a Radio Interview w/ Marlon Nichols

Marlon Nichols was interviewed on Atlanta’s WDJY 99.1 FM‘s, “Building the Future” radio show. The program begins with Marlon’s path to his current role at Cross Culture Ventures. He recounted that being in the Kauffman Fellows Program “was a real eye-opening experience,” one which caused him to look around at his classmates and ask himself, “Why am I not branching out on my own? Why am I not looking to pursue my dream? What am I waiting for?” Marlon was working at Intel Capital at the time, and shortly thereafter led the firm’s diversity fund, which also got him thinking: “What is it about diversity that drives greater success for companies and programs? … Diversity is based on culture.” This path led to Cross Culture Ventures; his investing focus now is on culture—from a global perspective—rather than simply on diversity for its own sake. The firm examines culture to “determine how consumers are going to behave in the future and where they’re going to spend money.” Listen to the podcast.


Disney’s Black-ish exclusively on Afrostream in France

Afrostream has acquired the exclusive first run rights in France from Disney for the ABC Studios-produced hit TV comedy series ‘black-ish’.  “The availability of ‘black-ish’ on Afrostream, our first deal with this new and innovative service, fits perfectly with Disney France’s strategy of providing the breadth of our content to a wide range of consumers through an equally wide range of distribution channels”–Jean-François Camilleri, Country Manager, The Walt Disney Company France & Benelux.  Read the full story here.


CNN taps mSurvey to learn why young Africans care about the US election

85% of Africans polled think Hillary Clinton is better for African interests– 80% of Africans polled think Hillary Clinton will win the presidential election– 39% of Africans polled got their information about the presidential election from TV, 25% from social media.  See the data and the full story here.


Troy Carter talks creativity, entrepreneurship, & investing with Mandella SH

Troy Carter (co-founder & GP @ Cross Culture Ventures) is one of the most successful music managers and startup investors out there.  Earlier this week he sat down with Mandella Schumacher-Hodge of Kapor Capital to discuss his approach to identifying and developing successful artists and entrepreneurs.  “Entrepreneurs tell me how you got here, go the extra mile…success is really difficult to maintain”–Troy Carter  Watch the interview here.


Skurt expands its service to Miami

Skurt, a transportation service that delivers rental cars, has launched in Miami. Skurt partners with rental companies to offer their fleet for daily rental through Skurt’s app. “Miami presents a great opportunity for Skurt,” says Harry Hurst, co-founder of Skurt. “We’re excited to help bring traditional rental company fleets to a new market of users seeking on-demand access to their cars.”  Read the piece here.


Afrostream begins its international roll out in Africa, now available in 28 countries

Afrostream, the leading subscription video on demand (SVOD) service for African, African-American, and Caribbean films and series, has begun an international rollout of its innovative services in 24 countries in Africa. The move will allow the company to accelerate the development of its service outside of Europe.  Read the details here.


Marlon Nichols Joins ShotTracker’s Board of Directors

ShotTracker, the manufacturer of wearable tech for basketball, announces that Marlon Nichols, founder and general partner at Cross Culture Ventures (CCV), has joined ShotTracker’s Board of Directors. Nichols joins the likes of Magic Johnson, David Stern and Klay Thompson, all of which advise the company on the development of its game-changing products. “ShotTracker is different because it delivers sophisticated analytics that are affordable at every level of play,” said Nichols. “ShotTracker is a rising star in the world of sports tech, and I’m excited to contribute to its growth.”  Read the full press release on Yahoo! Sports.


mSurvey gets its own case study at MIT

In developing countries, there are few options for obtaining objective, timely data. In 2010, as a Massachusetts Institute of Technology PhD candidate, Kenfield Griffith visited Kenya and noticed that over 70% of adults had access to a cell phone. In 2011, with a fellowship from MIT’s Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship, he went back to research the potential use of cell phones as a viable way to collect data. After completing his studies and obtaining initial funding, he returned to Kenya and founded Mobile Surveys Inc (mSurvey).

Visit the Legatum Center for Development and entrepreneurship case centre to download the case study.

Watch the case video here.


Cross Culture joined SMASHD in Atlanta to Launch the Culture & Code Tour

Two weeks ago we launched SMASHD CULTURE & CODE Tour in Atlanta and in 2017 we are coming to more amazing cities. I think we created magic, I know we were inspired by my hometown for the last 13 years. Made possible by folks like Alana Moton Leverette, Marlon Nichols, Suzy Ryoo, Danny Brown, Mike Walbert, and my ace boom Troy Carter–James Andrews, CEO at SMASHD Group.  

Watch the video here!

Troy Carter (Photo by The Collaborationist/Corbis via Getty Images)

Fortune: How Troy Carter Became A Silicon Valley Force

The Atom Factory founder and CEO, Cross Culture Ventures General Partner, and Spotify Head of Creator Services, might be the busiest tech investor in the game.  Troy talks with Fortune about how these worlds overlap and help him to find success and influence as a venture capital general partner. “These days, when Carter isn’t at Spotify, he’s nurturing Cross Culture and Atom Factory, his talent management firm, which has become a family affair.”  Read the article here.


Cross Culture Ventures Is Changing the VC Game by Putting Culture First

First Republic Bank talks Cultural Investing with the Cross Culture Ventures General Partners.  In its first year alone, the small team at Cross Culture Ventures is already helping to move the needle for its portfolio of startups.  CCV has focused on cultural investing: looking for seismic cultural shifts and then supporting early-stage startups working within those spaces. While the average initial investment size is $500k, the network and resources that Cross Culture brings via its partnership with Carter’s talent management and entertainment company, Atom Factory, make the investment that much more valuable.  Check out the conversation here.


The Mag: Havas Profiles Our James Andrews, CEO of SMASHD Group

The SMASHD Group, a brand innovation consultancy that comprises an editorial platform (, a startup accelerator (Smashd Labs), and a growth consultancy (Smashd Brand Innovations)…”The rate of change in how people are getting information, making purchase decisions, and making something trendy is now so fast. And the decisions are happening on platforms that marketers don’t necessarily live in every day. So in order to survive, brands have to actually live in the culture.”  Read the interview here.


Mayvenn & Essence Collaborate For Men Attempt To Do Black Womens’ Hair

Thou shall not mess with Black Women’s hair, should be a commandment.  Case in point, the folks over at Mayvenn, the luxury hair extention company, pulled together a group of gentlemen for a funny little challenge called: “Men Style Black Womens’ Hair For The First Time.”  Check it out here.

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Behind the Brilliance with Marlon Nichols

In this episode Marlon Nichols, founding partner  at Cross Culture Ventures, talks with Lisa Nicole Bell about his career path to venture capital, his thoughts on what makes founders great, how he thinks about new opportunities, and much more.  Listen to the conversation here.

Zach Braff arrives at the GQ Men of the Year Party at the Chateau Marmont on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Gimlet Media’s Podcast Series, Startup, to Become a Television Series

Start Up is based on the podcast Start Up by Alex Blumberg. It is a show about all the things that happen — the good, the bad and the ugly — when a guy (Braff) in his mid-30s with a wife and two kids makes the crazy decision to quit his good job and dive into the brave new world of starting a business. Tarses and Braff executive produce with Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox as well as Gimlet Media’s Chris Giliberti, Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber.  Read the piece here.

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mSurvey Secures Latest Strategic Investment From Safaricom

“We believe culture is the catalyst for winning solutions and mSurvey fits perfectly into our thesis as mobile messaging becomes the primary platform for communication around the world,” said Marlon Nichols, Founder & General Partner at Cross Culture Ventures. “mSurvey is disrupting traditional research models by using a medium that transcends borders, demographics and a range of industries, capturing the voice of the consumer like never before.” Read the article on Yahoo Finance here.

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Responding to the demand for reliable data collection in Africa, mSurvey raises seed funding

The seed funding was led by Cross Culture Ventures with participation from Safaricom and the Virgin Group’s Alpha Angels.  “We’ll use the funds to drive value add to merchants using Safaricom’s Lipa Na M-Pesa [bill pay and digital payments] service and to further fuel growth in Africa and other emerging markets”- Kenfield Griffith (mSurvey’s CEO).  Read the full article here.

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Thrive Market Opens New Distribution Center, Brings 400 New Jobs to Reno Area

Thrive market’s mission is to make a healthy lifestyle affordable and easy. The company will be investing 3.5 million dollars into their operations to provide healthy food and products throughout the west coast.  “Business climate is going to continue to attract great e-commerce businesses and our 400 jobs are going to have a real impact,” says Co-Founder Nick Green.  Watch the video here.


Cross Culture Ventures portco, mSurvey wants to solve Africa’s data challenge. Here’s how

The technology provides a direct channel for companies and organisations to gather insight into people – particularly in emerging markets where this data is often lacking. …mSurvey has worked organisations such as Procter & Gamble, McKinsey & Company, Harvard and Kenya Commercial Bank – & has been backed by telecom partners such as Safaricom and Airtel…in the past six months mSurvey has interacted with 1.58 million consumers. Read the full article here.


Lendstreet – Technology To Save Millions of Americans from Predatory Loans

Lendstreet promises to work with consumers who have huge debts financed at high interest rates. Payments are tailored so that they are affordable…this steady stream of income allows LendStreet to solicit investors for these loans.  Read the full piece here.

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Cross Culture Ventures Co-Founder Troy Carter named to Oprah’s Super Soul 100

The Super Soul 100 is A collection of 100 awakened leaders who are using their voices and talent to elevate humanity.  “The higher you go the lower you bow” – Troy Carter.  Read the profile here.


Airtel and other customers speak about the value that mSurvey Creates for them

mSurvey is leveraging unique mobile technology to allow brands to actively and effectively communicate with the 1B+ people (67% mobile penetration) on the African continent.   Airtel engaged mSurvey to help create interactive and individual relationships with its 5M customers at scale.  Watch the video here.

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Inc. Magazine on Sidestep, The Company Reinventing How Bands Sell Merch

It is notoriously difficult for bands to make money. Album sales are down. Royalties from song-streaming services are abysmal, giving artists little pay for all but the best-performing tracks…One unexpected bright spot in that concert-and-music-festival ecosystem is t-shirts. And tote bags. And stickers. Yes, that merch table.  Read the full article here.


Inc. on How Hingeto Brought in $1.4 Million–and Marshawn Lynch–in Less Than 4 Months

Inc. Magazine covers Hingeto’s $1.9M seed round and product launch. “Hingeto is geared toward clothing, unlike Kickstarter,” explained Grammage, the Beast Mode store-owner. “Brands can launch a whole collection,” Robinson explains. “Kickstarter is really for one product, and you wouldn’t make that an extension of your site. In that sense, we’re fundamentally different.” Read the article here.

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Afrostream to introduce more African movies and series in France with Bouygues Telecom

Video on Demand service Afrostream and French telecom operator Bouygues Telecom signed a partnership, which enables the distribution of more African, Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean movies and series to 2 Million households in France.  Read the story here.

Founders Network

Marlon Nichols talked with Founders Network about the intersection of global culture and consumer behavior.

Cross Culture Ventures predicts consumer behavior by studying global culture.  This approach is unique to us and based on portfolio performance is an effective way to select companies and make investments – says Nichols.  Read the conversation here.


Inc. on Sidestep as an innovative answer to live event ‘merch’ sales

‘Merch’ represents a significant portion of revenue for live event entertainers.  It doesn’t make sense that such an important part of the business has gone without innovation for so long.  Listen to Inc. Uncensored discuss Sidestep as a much needed solution.

IMG_0343 chats with Cross Culture Ventures founding partner, Marlon Nichols

Meet Marlon Nichols, General Partner at Cross Culture Ventures.  Strategically partnered with Atom Factory and SmashD Group, Cross Culture approaches tech differently.  See the full conversation here.


Skurt introduces a new revenue model for Fleet, changing the business of car rentals

Since starting with Skurt, utilization has gone up 10% to 15%…average rental length with Skurt is 4.5 days, similar to Skurt’s overall average…Skurt is fueling business growth…opportunity to get into markets I don’t even have, says the president of MPG Car Rental.  Read the details here!


Bloomberg Advantage: On Thrive Market Raising Funds

GUEST: Erin Zlomek Editor Bloomberg VC Wrap Discussing the week’s venture capital news, including Thrive Market, an online wholesaler of health food and home products, raising $111 million from from Invus, Greycroft Partners, E-Ventures and Cross Culture Ventures.  Listen to it here.

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Cross Culture Ventures company, Skurt, Shortlisted as Technology to Enable Suburban Living

According to the lead scientist for the Global Cities Program, the faster we are able the travel the more it will lead to sprawl. Also, 66% of millennials want to live in the suburbs…  Read the full article here.


Skurt recognized by Auto Rental News as a leader in the disruption of the rental car industry.

Three new companies that don’t own fleet are renting your cars through their apps — and pulling traditional car rental into the new mobility agenda.  Read the full story here.


Cross Culture Ventures portfolio company Thrive Market raises $111 million

Thrive Market, an online grocer, raises $111m in a new round of funding.  Cross Culture Ventures is thrilled with Thrive Market’s progress and is proud to continue to support the team.  Read the New York Times coverage here.


Meet Diishan Imira, the Black Hair King of Silicon Valley

Essence did a great job covering our portfolio company Mayvenn and its Founder/ CEO, Diishan Imira.  Read the piece here.

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Havas’ Global chief executive, Andrew Benett, discusses the group’s new venture with Atom Factory: the SMASHD Group.

Watch the video here.


Cross Culture Ventures warmly welcomes James Andrews to the Atom Factory family.

Mr. Andrews will be leading Smashed Group, the startup accelerator, brand agency, and editorial platform that powers and supports Cross Culture Ventures’ portfolio companies.  Per Marlon Nichols, Cross Culture Ventures co-founder and General partner,  “James brings the next level of culture integration into everything that we already do.  Things just got exponentially more interesting for our fund and portco family.”   Read the press release here.

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Cross Culture Ventures co-founder & general partner, Troy Carter, talks with Forbes about disruption, hustle, & the secrets to smart investing.

“Coming from the music business and seeing the transition from artists to fans, fans to consumers, it’s really about understanding the psychology of why people want to associate with your brand.”  Read more & watch the video here.

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Cross Culture Ventures general partner, Troy Carter, tapped by Spotify to head artist relations.

Cross Culture is excited to grow its influence through Troy Carter and this expanded relationship with Spotify.  On his Facebook page, Carter reaffirmed his commitment to Cross Culture Ventures.

“…through Smashd Labs and Cross Culture VC, I’ll still continue investing in great founders that have the ability to deliver next-wave disruption to culture.”  Read Troy Carter’s full statement here.  Read the New York Times coverage here.

Thrive Market Aims to Make Natural Products More Affordable

Our portfolio company, Thrive Market, has built a business focusing on healthy living and making natural and organic groceries and products more affordable. Co-founders and Co-CEO’s, Nick Green and Gunnar Lovelace joined “CBS This Morning” to discuss the company’s mission. Read more here.


LendStreet Lands $28 Million Funding to Help Consumer Debt

Our portfolio company, Lendstreet, a financial technology and services company, recently raised $28 million which will allow the company to help more consumers restructure their debt and reclaim financial health. Read more here.


Who Said Black Founders Can’t Build a Billion Dollar Company?

Troy Carter responds to institutional investors who prejudicially question his investment strategy, by declaring “who said African American founders can’t build a billion dollar company?” Read more here.


SideStep is Making it Easier for Musicians to Sell More Merchandise

Forbes covers Cross Culture Ventures portfolio company, Sidestep, and highlights the company’s recent partnership with Ticketmaster and their efforts to make buying merch more fun. Read more here.

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Cultural Investing at Startup Grind Global 2016

Marlon Nichols discusses global trends and shifts in consumer behavior and the arbitrage opportunity that exists. Watch the full video here.

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Beyoncé, Kale, and the Event Merch Opportunity

Cross Culture Ventures Associate, Shani Taylor, discusses our investment in Sidestep. Sidestep is a startup making it easier to be a fan by redefining the live event merchandise experience. Read more here.


From Jamaica to Europe to Silicon Valley: Crossing Cultures with Venture Capitalist Marlon Nichols

In their most recent publication, The Searchlights Project profiled Marlon Nichols and his successful journey breaking into venture capital and building a “great firm.” In the interview, Marlon discusses his decision to work abroad, his time at Intel Capital, and the genesis of Cross Culture Ventures. Read more here.


Investing Millions in Companies Led by Black Men

Only 1% of VC-funded startup founders are African American. Cross Culture Ventures was highlighted by Black Enterprise as one early stage venture capital firm seeking to change that narrative. Read more here.

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Webinar: Startup Fundraising 101

Early Growth Financial Services, in partnership with Black Founders, invites Marlon Nichols to host a webinar on startup fundraising. With more than 300 registrants, this webinar was in high demand, informative, and well attended. Watch the full video here.


Diversity in Tech Startups Front and Center at Upfront Summit 2016

Troy Carter speaks on a panel with Beatriz Acevedo (mitú), Magic Johnson (Magic Johnson Enterprises) and Tristan Walker (Walker and Co. Brands) at Upfront Summit 2016. Watch the full video here.


Marlon Nichols Recognized for Spearheading Change in Tech Investing

Silicon Republic named Marlon Nichols as one of “26 great people spearheading change in tech investment,” for being a champion of diversity and advancing a new model of tech investing. Read more here.

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Gimlet Media Joins the Cross Culture Ventures Family

Cross Culture Ventures welcomes the newest member of our portfolio family, Gimlet Media, the HBO of podcasting.  Listen to Gimlet Media talk through their decision to raise Series A financing and how the process played out. Listen here.


Interview with CCV Partner Troy Carter: ‘Winter Always Comes’

Studio 1.0 host Emily Chang sits down with Cross Culture Ventures Partner and Atom Factory Founder/CEO Troy Carter to discuss his background, Hollywood career, and investment successes. On whether Silicon Valley is in a bubble, Carter says “winter always comes.” Watch the full video here.

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Lady Gaga’s Longtime Manager Troy Carter Now Cultivating New Tech Talent

Cross Culture Ventures partner, Troy Carter, has a knack for picking both music and tech talent.  Our accelerator, Smashd Labs’, showcased its first batch of companies last week during its inaugural demo day. Read more

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Culture is Product Management

Cross Culture Ventures Associate, Shani Taylor discusses the role consumer culture can play in new product development and management. Read more


Silicon Valley VCs Visit Durham to Talk Opportunity for “Culturally-Driven” Startups

Cross Culture Ventures, Impact America Fund partners discuss investment in hair extension startup Mayvenn and minority-focused business at Black Wall Street Homecoming. Read more


HBCUMade: Interview With Trevor Thomas, Partner at Cross Culture Ventures

Cross Culture Venture partner, Trevor Thomas, chats with HBCU to Startup, a platform to connect and facilitate personal connections between alumni and students of historically black college and universities (HBCUs) and tech companies. Read more

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Viacom, Afrostream Ink Content Partnership

BET France, the newly-created Gallic channel of the Viacom-owned network, has inked a deal with Tonjé Bakang’s Afrostream, an SVOD service targeting French-speaking auds with African-American, Afro-Caribbean and African series and movies. Read more


Afrostream Signs Multi-Year Deal With Sony Pictures Television

Afrostream, the streaming platform dedicated to Black movies and skeins, has inked a multi-year deal with Sony Pictures Television. Read more


Mayvenn raises $10 million for its hair extension empire

Earlier this week, I spent 15 minutes chatting with famed Silicon Valley investor Ben Horowitz about women’s hair extensions. Read more


Thrive Market Brings Much Needed Jobs and Healthy Food to the Midwest With Opening of Second Warehouse

Thrive Market, a quickly growing online retailer selling only high-quality healthy foods, vitamins, home goods, and beauty supplies, will be opening a new Batesville, IN warehouse. The new 375,000 ft2 facility, a former General Electric plant, will bring over 300 jobs to the town of 6,500 in just six months. Read more


Darden Alum Employs Wall Street Tactics to Help Americans in Debt

Jerry Nemorin has witnessed firsthand two of the most monumental disasters of the last 10 years – one financial and one physical. Read more

Troy Carter’s SMASHD Labs accelerator selects first batch of startups

The SMASHD Labs accelerator is designed to offer startups at the center of technology, entertainment, and culture access to tools, resources, and individuals to accelerate company growth. Cross Culture Ventures is one of these very resources. Moreover, this relationship with SMASHD Labs offers Cross Culture early access to promising startups. Cross Culture is currently evaluating a few of the accepted startups for potential investment.

Marlon Nichols Brings Cultural Investing Narrative to the Mainstage

At the third annual Platform Summit, Marlon Nichols clearly outlined the value and arbitrage opportunity of cultural investing during a keynote presentation. Nichols also spoke on a panel titled, “The New Capital is Social.”

Troy Carter speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt

Troy Carter at TechCrunch Disrupt on “sleepy industries” and lagging innovation

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Marlon Nichols named to “40 under 40: Tech Diversity Silicon Valley”

“At Cross Culture, our ethos is that culture drives brands and brands define the world that we live in. And in particular, diverse cultures have an outside impact on popular culture. What really drives not only me but also my co-founders Troy Carter and Trevor Thomas (who’s also MLT), is that we get to empower entrepreneurs who look like us, who  are solving problems that are meaningful to us. So, we are solving challenges for the neighborhoods that we grew up in or that are similar to them, as opposed to the typical types of investments that happen every day in Silicon Valley and in venture capital.” – Marlon Nichols

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Cross Culture Ventures Partner, Troy Carter tapped to join Shark Tank

Troy Carter joined Ashton Kutcher and Chris Sacca as a guest Shark, appearing on the October 9th airing of this season’s Emmy Award-winning, Shark Tank. Carter expressed excitement about serving as a guest Shark “because of the show’s ability to reach Americans outside the Bay Area and New York hubs…from less privileged or minority backgrounds.” Carter’s appearance on Shark Tank garnered high-level exposure from the show’s seven million viewers, to both Carter and Cross Culture Ventures–a terrific trade for a 24-hour commitment.

Carter was also tapped as a mentor for both the Dodgers and Disney Accelerator Programs.

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Marlon Nichols presented at the first annual Tech Inclusion Conference

Marlon discussed the intersection of tech and diversity as well as increasing access to capital for entrepreneurs.