21 October 2020

You Can’t Get VC Or Angel Investment If You’re Black, Ethnic Minority or Female

WARNING: This is a controversial episode on a topic that many have very strong feelings about. I ask that whatever you view, you accept that the comments are my personal opinion only, based on my own experiences in the UK (not the USA particularly) and certainly not the experiences of everyone.

In a world with so much focus on race and gender, I discuss my views on the topic of the challenges getting investors for your startup business as a black, ethnic minority or female founder.

It might not be what you’re expecting to hear… get in touch after listening with your own experiences and let me know where in the world you are listening.

more Opportunity Awaits with Aaron Henriques podcast episodes

Why a negative mindset will kill your entrepreneur spirit, business dreams and lead to a failed startup | Aaron Henriques

Why a negative mindset will kill your entrepreneur spirit, business dreams and lead to a failed startup | Aaron Henriques

Opportunity Awaits podcast Episode Transcript

Aaron Henriques (00:04): Hello everyone. And welcome to the Get Growing Online Podcast. I'm Aaron Henriques. And today I'm going to be talking to you about the challenges that some black minority ethnic groups and females particularly find when they're going through venture capitalist investment or angel investments. Now, before I get started on that just a word of warning for some of you is that you're not going to hear necessarily what you want to hear in this podcast episode. And some of my views will undoubtedly go against a lot of other people's views on the, on the subject. And there maybe, you know, I may be wrong. And, you know, there may be some things that I say that isn't factually correct where it's particularly where it's my opinion or from my own personal experiences, that may not be the experiences of everyone else, but I'm going to give you that word of warning at the start, because for those of you who do know me already, I don't filter things out very well. Aaron Henriques (01:12): And so you're going to get it how I, how I think about it. And if you've got a problem with that, well, I don't want to happen is I don't want you to feel like you are in some ways sort of isolated in some way, you know, sort of being dismissed by me because we've got different views on certain topics. But what I would welcome is I would welcome you know, hearing your points of views and also why, you know, certain things that I've said, maybe don't correlate with your own experiences. You know, whether it's people, you know, people or yourself, things you've heard about other things you've read, I'm more than happy to hear about that. So what I've done recently is back in, or probably over a year ago now we're what, October, 2020 right now. And just over a year ago, I deleted my Twitter account. Aaron Henriques (02:18): The, the, the main reason for that was there was just too much negative stuff and it was all police related. So for those of you who don't know as in the metropolitan police for over 10 years, and you know, I had loads and loads and loads of followers and stuff like that who, you know, loads of them police related, and there's so much stuff and everyone's moaning and stuff like that. And it was just all really depressing. And I just deleted my Twitter account and I created a new one in March. Didn't really use it. And it's only recently I've started getting back on Twitter, again, looking at it more from a business perspective not to generate business, but to, you know, follow people who are in business, Who, you know, say interesting things, You know about certain topics that I'm, I'm very interested in. Aaron Henriques (03:07): So for those of you who would like to get in touch normally if you've listened to my stuff before and my other podcast, the British Pilot Podcast, you'd heard me go saying, go to Instagram. But the only thing you're going to see in Instagram really is pictures of me and planes, so, or helicopters. So what I would suggest perhaps for this one if you've got some opinion something you wanted to share is to perhaps contact me on Twitter. So it's @AaronHenray, that's AaronHenray. I'll remind you at the end of this, hopefully you know, these opinions don't offend you too much, but to be honest with you, you know, it, it works both ways, doesn't it, you've got your opinion, I've got mine and that sort of, that, that's what it is. Aaron Henriques (03:56): So I'll get started and I'll give you a bit of background as to why this is even coming up, because this isn't the type of topic that normally would sort of come out of my mouth. I hate talking about it because it winds me up just plain and simple like that. It winds me up. It's something I've had to battle with from the day that I joined the police. You know, or until now, you know, that's back in 2007 until now. I'm still still hearing about it. So I'll give you a bit of a background here and really what, how this has come about is back in December 2019, I sold my house and I sold my house. For a few reasons. One was, I was literally, and, you know, complete honesty here. I was literally completely fed up. Aaron Henriques (04:48): We had, you know, had another startup business, a live chat software company where we didn't, I didn't actually own the, the live chat software itself. It was a white label platform that we licenced from another company. And for those of you who do know, you may have listened to previous episodes where I may have mentioned it before. You know, the long and short of it was is that a company that we, I, I probably put too much trust in very early on to get the business to, to help us with our websites and our digital marketing and stuff like that. They completely cocked up. They, they never finished. We're a live chat company. We're about a website. And ultimately what ended up happening was ended up in court. They managed to drag it out for nearly a year and a half. Aaron Henriques (05:37): And by the end of that time you know, in terms of cashflow, it was nearly impossible to, you know, to continue with that business. And that was when I funded myself. I left the metropolitan police for that. And I worked incredibly hard and the staff that had over the time worked hard as well. And, you know, we did make money as well. We made money. Despite the fact, we were a live chat company without a website. We did make some money. But the thing is, is that when I had to make that decision to close the doors, literally it was the hardest thing I had to do. It probably two, you know, probably three months or so prior to me making that decision, I knew already that this was not recoverable. And the point came where we actually lost the live chat software. And then as you can tell for, you know, you can't be a live chat company. If you don't have live chat software, we lost the software and that was it, the business, had to close. Aaron Henriques (06:35): We, we did win the court case, you know, so it was a bit of a blow to the other company. It nearly cost them completely closing down. We won the case. We ended up getting bailiffs in them and yeah, and then we got some of the money back that they cost us, but nowhere near what it was. So why would a highlight there is I didn't sell the house because of that. It was more the fact that, you know, I was started, I was working from home all the time. I was fed up there. I started learning more about money as well as listening to lots of podcasts reading lots of books about money. And I started thinking that, you know what, my house isn't doing anything for me, all of my finance and my wealth was all tied up into this house. Aaron Henriques (07:20): It wasn't going to be something I was going to be able to access for the next, you know, 30 years until that mortgage is paid off. But then, you know, I wouldn't even be able to access it then because I'd be, you know, living there unless I sold the place. And I thought, do you know what I'm too young to be too worried about having this asset, that people call it an asset. You know, I, if, if I lost everything to, I'm still young enough, I can make it all back. Okay. Okay. So that, that, that's where I was thinking. I don't want anyone to, you know, to copy me and then, you know, have a disaster yourselves and then you know, come and moan at me about it. I'm not interested in that. But what I wanted to say is that when I started learning more about money and I decided that, do you know what I want to sell my house? Aaron Henriques (08:07): I needed a break. One of my, one of my things I wanted to do is I wanted to go off and do some additional pilot training, which I did start that in January. Obviously COVID hit, the plan was I should have been at the end of end of summer, and right now should have been in the United States and should have been doing some flying there. I was going to go travelling for a bit after that for a few months, then come back and get on with this business idea that I'm currently working on now. And so we've, COVID basically because of what happened with COVID, everything was brought forward a lot. I've now started up this, well, I haven't started the company, but we started a development you know, probably six, six or nine months earlier than I was going to do in the first place, but that's not a problem, you know COVID has been a pain in the bum for my other business, we lost probably 70 to 80% of of, of our customers within the first few weeks of lockdown. Aaron Henriques (09:14): And one thing I would say is that we've recovered from that. We've grown at a rate since locked down, ended faster than we ever had done in the previous six, seven, eight years that I've had that business. I'll talk about that probably another day on another episode before I start going off onto Pluto about something. But so anyway, I sold the house and I wanted to start this project that I'm currently working on. The only thing I can tell you about it is to help service-based businesses at this stage, that's all, that's all I'm saying until we're a bit further on now, the accountant that I had previously had been working with previously and met and had several discussions before they recommended that I get a VC to actually accelerate this business because I was going to completely self-fund this, I've got the cash there. Aaron Henriques (10:10): I ready paid for, for the developers and stuff like that to start working on it. And the next stage for me, really, my plan, my original plan was to go along the lines of, you know, get the product, built, get some customers on it, just some, you know, get, get some customers on it, organically, you know, picking up the phone tradition, you know, is that the, how I sold that, that live chat software where, you know, when I was put in that position where I had to, you know, that was the only way I could do it. That's exactly what we did and yeah, and, and, you know, sort of improve it, make improvements based on the feedback from those early customers and then be looking at venture capitalist funding, angel investors you know, so, so sort of any external funding like that, to be able to accelerate it, but not just the funding, the most important thing. Aaron Henriques (11:07): More so for me, particularly because, you know, I, yes, I do have money. I have, you know, I have a business that generates me money. But the thing I don't have necessarily is the, is the expertise to take it to such high level where this business can go and where it deserves to be. So that's one of the main reasons for needing, you know, experienced venture capitalists or angel investors. So my accountant recommended that. And I was thinking back to the problems that I had in the live chat company. And the biggest thing was access to money to, to, to keep things flowing, to keep the business going. When, when got to a stage where, and not just access to money, it was one of them was access to money. But access to enough money when things go wrong. Because the business plan that I built was going perfectly to T you know, I spent a tremendous amount of time on that plan and it was going perfectly up until it didn't go perfectly anymore. Aaron Henriques (12:15): Now, the problem was is that I didn't account for that. And this is something that I'm taking a very different approach on with this new business. So when I started thinking about the problems that I had with the live chat business, I was thinking, well, I could go along the lines of, you know, trying to get this out there to the first few customers, literally on my own. I can do that. And I've got the money there to be able to sustain it for quite a period of time. But that, that said there are things that I need to be able to fund as in like staff. And I don't just mean, you know, I mean, really great talented people the sort of marketing budgets and stuff like that, it will need to be spending to get this app out there is, is going to be tremendous. Aaron Henriques (13:13): So it's something that I started really thinking about. I need a VC, you know, perhaps I need a VC or some angel investors. Now I've spoken to some previously some that I've had contact with previously from the hand of live chat times. Some had just been introduced through like general business networking. And there's some that my accountant actually recommended to me directly who they would suggest that I would speak that, that I should speak to because they're the type of faeces that get involved in very early stage startups. So I, when I started looking at it, I thought, well, okay, I'm not just going to go, you know, I've heard stories of people when they're raising money before. Right. And you've probably heard of this too, I imagine. Right. Is where, you know, people love to tell stories about, you know, hats, you know, called, you know, I sent my pitch deck to a thousand different VCs and got knocked back by a thousand VCs. Aaron Henriques (14:13): And then they knocked on the door, the thousand and one type thing, they want to show you that hardship and that sort of how long and hard it was to go and get that money. Right. And it may well be that hard, but, you know, don't get me wrong. I haven't raised, I haven't raised yet. But that sort of thing, I kept hearing about that. And I was like, do you know what that sounds like an absolute ball ache. Like, I can't be bothered. I haven't got time to be, you know, sending out, you know, to a thousand different VC firms. Like that's like spam to me that spam, I don't do stuff like that. I've never done it. You know, if I go back to the earliest days, if I was looking for a job, I go and spam my CV out to places I'd identify one or two places that actually I want to work here. Aaron Henriques (14:57): And I would go physically with myself down there, asked us, speak to the manager. And every single time I ever did that to get a job, I got the job every single time. Okay. And that's the same sort of similar approach on taking on this? I've identified a number of VC firms a very small number of VC firms. I'm not going to be spreading everything out there and it's going to be, you know, I want to be going after them, but here's the problem. I didn't know much about VCs at all. I didn't know how they work. I don't know how, how they invest. I don't know what their expectations are. There's a lot, I didn't know. So I, wasn't going to go in there blind. I wanted to find out a bit more about how raising from venture capitalists works previously. Aaron Henriques (15:52): From previous days, I had this mindset about VCs, of being this scary thing. That's, that's going to try and take control over the whole business. And they're going to prevent me from actually, you know, carrying out my vision that I have with this business and experience that I've gained from my other business and how I'm applying it to this. So I went out there, I was listening to lots of audio books. There's some fantastic books out there written by some VCs, some that are not there's loads and loads and tonnes of podcasts, which have taken up so much of my time. But they are fantastic that you can learn so much from all these experienced people, but there's one thing that then started cropping up a lot. Oh, and the blogs as well. I've read a lot of like online blogs and stuff like that, but there's something that kept cropping up and it's something that started to bother me. Aaron Henriques (16:47): And this is where we come to the topic of race and gender, because the thing that kept cropping up was consistently was about the fact that particularly the largest VC firms out there, where they are on missions to they're on missions to increase the number of sort of black, ethnic minority and female investments that they make. And they're on a mission to do that because they have stated categorically. And that seems to be a general opinion. And it may well be true that the chances of a black or ethnic minority founder or a female founder of getting VC money is very, very slim compared to white male. And it bothered me a bit and it didn't bother me for the reasons that you probably think it bothered me for the fact it was being raised so much. Aaron Henriques (18:07): It bothered me because it reminded me of being back in them in the metropolitan police service. We have initiatives that they've had over the years. Now. One, I think I've probably mentioned before was when I was going through my site, my sergeant's process before I was doing my police sergeants exams, the most offensive thing happened to me. And I found that personally extremely offensive was I was offered special help on, on a, on a special course that was only to be delivered to black and ethnic minority officers. Now I found that really, really super offensive because I haven't grown up feeling like I'm a victim at all. I haven't, you know, I'm not, I don't have some disability because of the colour of my skin. You know, I'm not thick because of the colour of my skin. I passed that exam, no problems, you know that's through my own studying my own efforts. Aaron Henriques (19:06): It wasn't through this course, which I refused to attend. Now it bothered me because of those initiatives that I'd seen in the past where, you know, where they would say that black and ethnic minority officers, for example, underrepresented in the police service. And there should be more because if there's more than the black community will be more will be more sort of that, that they'll feel more represented. And they'll, they'll, you know, have a, a higher view of the police and they'll be more willing to come forward as victims or you know, to report stuff to the police and stuff like that. And that, that, wasn't my experience actually. And that's not experience of any black officer that I've ever ever spoken to about the subject ever. It's never been their experience. In fact, it's completely opposite and I'm not going to get into that. But what I, what I want to get into is the fact that some of the stats that have come out where they've said, for example, 2% female get VC funding. 2% of VCs themselves are black, which seems a really low number. Right. And, you know, 1% of funding goes to black founders of all VC funding. Only 1% goes to black founders. Aaron Henriques (20:31): Now I get that. This is, you know, on the face of it, it doesn't look so good. You know, a lot of this, I must mention actually, a lot of this relates to the United States. A lot of the data and stuff like that about VC funding comes from the United States. I, I, you know, there hasn't been much stuff I've come across, which is specific to the UK necessarily. But if, if this did apply also to the UK, then it wouldn't, it wouldn't look so weird to me on the basis that from the last census and granted, it was nine years ago, things are going to be very different, but 3% of the British population, 11, nine years ago were black. So if you were saying, 1% of all VC funding goes there, they're still, it's still low proportion, but it's not as big a gap as people think it's like, people think that well, 50% should be black, 50% should be white. Aaron Henriques (21:39): And I don't like that at all. I do not like, like separating, you know, I do not like anyone focusing on my colour, it shouldn't come into it. It shouldn't even be a consideration as far as I'm concerned, if I'm going for funding or whatever it is, I don't care what it is I'm doing. If I'm going to do something, if I'm trying to chief something and the criteria also includes, you know, an extra mark because this guy's black or Brown or mixed, whichever you want to call me, depending on what side of coin you're on. I don't want an extra tick. Yes. He meets a corporate objective to increase our number of you know, black officers. It meets a corporate objective to increase the number of black founders that we've invested in. So the thing is I don't like that, and I don't like it because it actually, you know, in larger organisations, that sort of thing causes some dissent amongst the ranks. Aaron Henriques (22:44): And I saw it in the police service where, and I don't blame them to an extent because it was, it was advertised so much. You would never, ever, ever find something in the, you know, like in a police service where it's a special programme, only for white male officers. You'd never find that. And I don't think you would find that in, from what I'm seeing now for the sort of popular talk that's going on now, you're not going to find that in the VC world where they're going to be saying we only support white founders or we want to increase our number of white male founders. You're not going to see that. And yet, for some reason, people think it is okay to say on the other side and to give people a special leg up on that. And I only want to be treated fairly. Aaron Henriques (23:29): That's all I would ever ask for, just fair treatment. Exactly the same as everyone else. I don't take colour into account. I don't take gender into account. I don't care. All I care is about that individual, you know, are they good? Are they, you know, are they actually bringing something to the table here? That's what I care about. You know, are they the best that I can get right now? Is that the best person I don't care about the colour. And some of these firms can make you feel a bit like, There are, there are some firms that I've looked at because I've researched every firm before I've before I'm sort of making approaches on them. And some of them where they highlight it so much, it put me off to the point where I could imagine if I got investment from them, that's what I'll be. Aaron Henriques (24:25): I'll be, you know, the, their PR would be on that basis would be on, here's a new black founder that we funded. Look at us. That's honestly how I feel it would look like, you know, try and, you know, if he'd become really successful, it'd be like this, this, this you know, this poster boy of, you know, look at this black entrepreneur. I don't want that. I really don't want that. I'm, you know, if, if, if I, if I have a achievement, it's not because I'm a, you know, it's a movement because I'm black, it's just an achievement because I'm Aaron, that's it, as far as I'm concerned. And that is something that really, really bothers me. And it's, and I actually find it a bit worrying that some of these firms out there they're, they're highlighting it so much that they are going to potentially destroy the dreams and hopes of other people. Aaron Henriques (25:22): You know, I, if you're a young white male right now, I feel really sorry for you in all areas, you know, if it's policing or you know, going, you know, trying to start up a business because it seems like because there's, you know, if you look at the stats yes. At this a disproportionately high number of, of people who are, you know, young white males, for example, get funding versus black females, for example. And yes, it does seem disproportionate, but that doesn't mean that those young white males with a fantastic idea, they don't come from money. They don't have this so-called white privilege that people keep banging on about, which makes me feel sick. By the way, I hate that term. They don't have that stuff. You know, where that they may have come from a council estate. They may have come from a poor family. I know plenty like that. Plenty of my old friends, I grew up with young white, grew up with nothing, just like I did, you know, and they shouldn't be overlooked because of their colour. I think that's wrong. If they've got a fantastic idea, they should be treated and considered in exactly the same way as anyone else. And that's really the thing that was bothering me because, Aaron Henriques (26:51): You know, there's only so many times I can hear other people telling me that I should feel like I'm a victim that I should feel like I'm less likely to get ahead in life because of my colour. And the funny thing is, you know, the majority of the people that I hear this from actually other white people telling me, I should feel like I'm a victim. I don't, and I wish people would stop telling me that I should, because I really don't. And I don't, I'm not denying that there are problems at all. You know, when I've been looking through a lot of these VC firms and looking at their partners and doing research on them you know, it is evident. It is evident that in fact, I haven't come across one, one black partner in a VC firm yet. So far not the ones that I've looked at, but does that put me off wanting to work with them? Aaron Henriques (27:44): Absolutely not. You know, I'm selecting firms that I think will be the best for this business. You know, we'll give it the best chance to succeed. I'm not doing it because there's someone who looks a bit more like me. I don't care. I don't know them. You know, I don't care if they look like me or not. You know, I find that offensive anyway. But you know, it's not something that I take into consideration and I've never seen barriers because of my colour. When, you know, I've, I've heard of people saying, Oh, I haven't got this job. Or, you know, I couldn't get this. And the only possible reason is because they're black. That's the reason, you know, if they haven't got something, you know, they've applied for a job, maybe 500 other people have applied for this job as well. And that, you know, there might be 50 of them are black, who who's applied for this job. Let's just say out of the 500 and they don't get the job. Maybe another black kid got the job, you know, but they don't know who's got a job. Well, they know they didn't get the job. And the thing that I hear all too often spout it. I didn't get it because I'm Black. Aaron Henriques (28:58): I can't be a success because I'm black. And if you walk around with victim mentality like that, you failed before you've even begun. If you walk around, if you think that, because you walk into a boardroom and there's a load of white people there, and then your, your mind is suddenly, Oh, I'm not going to get anywhere because I'm black or I'm female. You've already failed. You've already failed. You're probably going to walk out there with nothing because you're not going to come across in your best way, because you're thinking about other things in the back of your mind that may not actually be there at all. And that's not to say it isn't ever there. Trust me is I know that, you know, worked in the police for 10 years. You know, we deal with hate crime a lot, you know? But it works both ways. Aaron Henriques (29:51): Okay. And, and in so many cases, I've seen people of all races, by the way, this isn't just, you know, this isn't this, this comment isn't targeting just black or female. I've seen people of all types where they try something once and they give up and they'll come up with some excuse. And for some people, the excuse is I'm black. Some of the peoples, it's an excuse that I don't know, the market's not ready for it. Or I don't know that the, the, the moon is, you know, misaligned with Mars or something like that. You know, there are people come up with all sorts of excuses and they don't then take that next step to continue with what they're doing. And for a lot of that, I think it's confidence. People don't have the confidence to keep going. You know, or that risk, you know, they're, they're adverse that, that, you know, they're so scared of the risk that is stressing them out. Aaron Henriques (30:55): And that's all they can think about. And they never actually do anything. You know, that, that risk where yes, just say, they've gone to 10 marketing companies, all 10 marketing companies have said to them, look, you need to be spending 2000 pounds (£2,000) a month on your ads. When you Google ads, for example, 10 of these top marketing companies have all said that that's what you need to do. But then they're so scared of losing their money. They'll be like, no, I'll spend 20 pounds a month and we'll see what happens with that. And then they get nowhere and they're like, no, I'm not doing anymore. Aaron Henriques (31:28): You know, I've, I've, I've come across. So many people like that and not everyone is built to be an entrepreneur, and I'm going to bring it right round to that about around business and stuff, because not everyone is built for it. Okay. People think just because you create a company, you've just, or you've got an idea, or you've worked in a job or something like that, that you are going to make a fantastic entrepreneur. And you're not 90%, 99% of people probably shouldn't even bother starting a business. Okay. Because they will fail and the stats prove it. The stats prove it year on year on year. And it's going to show it even more this year. He has so many startups have occurred during lockdown that, you know, people don't see it through. I know loads of people, loads of friends who, who have started something, and then, you know, they haven't got traction in the first two weeks. Aaron Henriques (32:20): And suddenly you asked them like two weeks later, how's that going? They're like, Oh, I'll give up. I'm not doing it anymore. Like what, what did you expect? Did you expect to become an overnight millionaire? Because you've seen it on Instagram. You've seen someone who, but you haven't seen is that person on Instagram, who's coming, you know, five years before I've been working on it for five years. And now they've become a success. They didn't see that. And that that's something that people need to consider because you don't deserve special treatment in my mind, anyway. You do not deserve special treatment because of the colour of your skin or because you're female. Now, how against the grain? Is that what I just said? Because you've got this whole BLM movement, right? That will probably attack me over this, over that statement. But you do not deserve it. Aaron Henriques (33:10): The world doesn't owe you, Jack. I'm not going to swear on a podcast. In fact, I think I already have apologies if I have the world doesn't owe you anything. You know, if, if you, if you want to sit there and see this barrier that isn't in my mind is not there. I don't see a barrier. Never have, if I want to do something, I just go and do it. Right. That that's it. And I've never been stopped by it. But if you're one of them people that sit there thinking that you can't do something because of this barrier that you've put up in a, probably in a lot of cases, I don't want to say most cases. Cause I don't know. I don't know most of you, but I reckon in a lot of cases that people do put up barriers and people in the UK, for some reason, compare themselves and see themselves as victims in the same way as people in the United States. Aaron Henriques (34:06): And I think we're talking about two different things here, guys, you know, and I'll be honest with you. I've, I've some of the stuff that I've watched and seen about, you know, particularly how people black black communities are treated in the United States. You know, historically as well, very, very different to here. And you know, for some of these young people now, particularly who, who, because they're seeing all this media about, you know, black mistreatment in the United States. And then for some bizarre reason, sort of apply that to UK as, you know, two different kettle of fish I'm telling you, you know, I see it about policing all the time about how, you know, I don't like the stuff I've seen, the American police, what they do. Aaron Henriques (34:58): Yeah. I mean, it's, it's unreal. That stuff does not happen here. It doesn't happen. I've been there 10 years. It's enough time to know it doesn't happen like that ever, never, ever seen some of the crazy stuff I've seen the American police do. Okay. People cannot apply those. You know, we're not America. We might be in many ways closely linked here. And you know, lots of our values are probably quite similar. The way that we live, probably in many ways are quite similar, but things like that do not apply across the, across both sides equally. And so when it comes to special treatment things like diversity targets, I don't like diversity targets. Okay. And it will never be in my company. And I can tell you that now, if I, as long as I've got control of my company, I will never have diversity targets. Aaron Henriques (35:58): Okay. Because I don't agree with them. I don't agree with promoting someone to a position that I do not deserve to be in just because they felt that you can, you can tick a box to say, yes, we're a diverse company. And we've got, you know, 50% of our board are made up of black, ethnic minority and female people. That's a load of nonsense. You need the best people in my mind. It's a load of nonsense. You need, you need the best people in the job. And if the best people are not black, that you've have come forward to you. And if the best people are not female, who've come forward for that, for that job, then don't take them. That's my mind. That's how I, that's how I see it. Okay. And you know, when you're looking at big corporates now and you know, suddenly they inject, you know, it's wrong. Aaron Henriques (36:52): I mean, you know, some of the thoughts I've had were like the politics that's going on in America right now. And you see, you'll see both sides where they suddenly put this black female in a really, really senior position. And you're like, well, who the hell is she where she comes from? You know, maybe she does deserves to be there, but how many people are sitting there thinking, or has she just been put there because she fits two of those boxes, she's black and she's female. She fits two those boxes. So let put her there, but how shit is that for her? Excuse me. I swore apologies how, how crap is that for her? You know, to think that when she sat there in the, in in, in that boardroom or, you know, in that meeting with loads of other peers that they're going to be talking about her saying that she's only there because of that, how crap is that she might actually deserve to be there, but because you've got these initiatives going on, it makes people talk and I've seen it. Aaron Henriques (37:56): I've saw it in the police. I saw it happened in the police, I've spoken about it before. Okay. Where people would get certain courses or get promoted and stuff like that. And then there, you start hearing people say, they've only got it because they're black. They've already got it because they're gay. They've only got it because it's a girl, how wrong is that? Why would you, would you want to feel like that because I'm telling you now, I don't, I don't want to feel like that as a black so-called black founder. And if I'm being labelled as such, I don't want to be made to feel like I've only got somewhere because of my colour. Aaron Henriques (38:42): Now, my long-term goal is actually to be an investor, you know, before I'm 40 years old, I'm 34 now, by the time I'm 40, my ideal will be where my full-time, you know, my day to day is actually as an investor in other businesses. And that's not going to focus on just black. Okay. Cause I've seen some VC firms, which are all black VCs and only invest in black startups. And I think that's wrong. I think that's unfair. I know what they're trying to do to try to level the playing field a bit. I get it. But I feel, I still feel like you shouldn't be dismissing other people because of it. I do hope that more, you know, black, talented entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs and other minorities, if they've got ideas, just have that confidence to go forward with it because that's one of the big battles of being an entrepreneur. Aaron Henriques (39:46): You don't need to see hundreds and thousands of other people who look more similar to you for you to actually go and do it. Okay. One of the things that I just mentioned, I want to do, I want to become a long-term is what I'd like to do is invest my wealth. You know, I've got to build that wealth first, but I want to invest that wealth to be able to do things for other startups. And that's where I'd like to focus on is the startup stage, I'm not interested in injecting money, into big companies who are already growing and are clearly going places I'm interested in helping those, the small guys. And I don't care what your colour is, what your gender is, what your sexual preferences are. I don't care as long as it's a good idea. And you've got a solid team, you've got good founders and stuff like that. Aaron Henriques (40:33): That's what I'd be looking at. And you know, it's probably likely I end up in a, you know, part of a VC firm or something like that. I mean, I don't know who knows what will happen in the next six, six years or so like, but I tell you, I'll thing for sure, is I'm not going to be put off by joining a VC firm. That's even if they're currently at that time, a hundred percent white, it could be 50 of them, all white. I don't care. I'll happily go and join them. It makes no difference to me because I don't see myself as black Aaron. And I just see myself as Aaron. I don't see them as white VC. I see them just as whoever they are. And I'd hope that more, more of you out there whether you want to be an investor, whether you want to start your own business, whatever it is you want to do, or, you know, if there's a particular job you want to go for, if you want to join the police, but you don't see many black people in the police. If you want to go and join the armed forces, if you want to be a pilot, you don't see many black pilots or you don't see many female pilots. You know, there's only what 3% of all pilots around the world are female. Aaron Henriques (41:50): You know that that's crazy. So if you, if there's anything you want to do, it's never going to be given to you. It's never going to just be put on your lap on a silver platter. Here you go. You need to go and get it. That's my point. And it shouldn't matter. None of those things should matter. It's all about you. Go and get it. And if you get knocked back, find out why you got knocked back, ask those questions, adjust it for the next time and go and do it again. That's what I'll be doing. You know, I'm sure some, some of these VC firms I'm going to speak to are going to say, Nope, don't like the idea get lost. Okay. I want to find out why they don't like the idea. Okay. So cause maybe I might pitch it to them in a certain way that doesn't work for VCs. Aaron Henriques (42:40): It's a new world I'm entering, but I'm not going to let it put me off of, you know, going forward with them. And the biggest thing that I didn't realise when I was growing up is I was surrounded it by every day I had like everything, you know, them crazy expensive Nike trainers, which God knows why my parents ever bought them. Particularly knowing like, you know, I grew up in a, you know, council state. And I ended up just living with my mum from six years old sort of thing. But Nike had that slogan of just, "Just Do It". You know, it has been pointing me in the face all my life. And that's one of the things that when I realised that, that you just go and do it, a lot of those barriers fall away, you know, there's barriers that you think are there and not necessarily there, if you actually just go and do it. Aaron Henriques (43:31): Okay. And there are people out there that I can talk about. One of those, my good friends, one of my good friends from the, from the police as well. You know, if you want to talk about underprivileged coming from a background and stuff to where he is today Ben from from used to be in a metropolitan police with me is now in Essex police. You know, if you want to see a success journey from you know, real bare bones to actually making ways now, you know, in his life and got a family, he's now, you know, a fairly senior rank in the police, it's still a junior rank, but a senior junior rank, if that makes sense. And he's got played to places where most people who grew up in his world and I know where he grew up because I used to police there. Aaron Henriques (44:29): Yeah. And how he grew up. You know, a lot of them have given up a long time ago. Ben didn't give up. And he's just one of those examples. If you ever want to go and find him, Ben Forbes, he's on Twitter, a lot and stuff. And LinkedIn I think he's just won an award very recently as well, which some British citizen award which, you know, he, he definitely deserves. But if you, if you just go and do stuff, you will find out that a lot of the things that you thought, were barriers do you getting to, where you want to be and not really. Okay. So if you feel like you need 200,000 pounds (£200,000) to start your business and everything on paper is saying, you need it. But for some reason you've decided that no, one's going to give you more than 10,000 pounds, but you don't know for anyone you haven't asked, it's people, people do that. Aaron Henriques (45:22): There's been like, I don't, no one's ever going to give me more than 10,000 pounds. So I can also 10,000 pounds, but I know I need 200,000, well going off for the 200,000. Cause you, you know, you may get knocked back quite a few times, but if you're, if you genuinely got a viable idea, you will find someone, okay. And that's what I'm doing now. That's the journey I'm on now. And perhaps, you know, maybe my opinion will change. Maybe, maybe with me going to these VC firms. I may realise that actually they're dismissing me because of my colour. I doubt it though. Not honestly. I'd really doubt it, but maybe there is some truth in it somewhere. I don't know. I don't know how a judge judge that. I mean, I don't know, just because I get knocked back, it doesn't mean it's my colour. Aaron Henriques (46:16): It might be my ideas shit. It might be, my numbers are wrong. It might be the way I've answered the question. Didn't work for them. My values might be different to them. This podcast episode that I've done. Now, there's some VC firms where I now don't match up with their values. And so then they're not going to invest in me. And that's fine because investing with a VC it's that long-term relationship. And if you've got certain things that are so at our core where they want to promote the fact that our black founder, we're helping black founders and I'll tell them you're not using me for that. I'll tell you that now. So if we don't align in values in that sort of way, then it's never going to work. There's no point me trying to pretend to them that, yeah, I'm up for that. Aaron Henriques (47:08): I'm up for being black founder poster boy. Cause I'm not at all, not to say that I wouldn't help young black people at all more than happy to just the same as I am young white people. Okay. So I'm gonna leave it there. I've got to go meet a friend for coffee. And yeah. You know, hopefully, you know, it's bought out a few things for people and I hope I've, you know, sort of explained my reasoning behind some of my thoughts, because particularly around the way it makes people feel you know, you got load of, you know, load of people, particularly white people telling you that you should feel like a victim because the stats say that you are and they keep banging on about that and doing special, you know, giving out special courses. And they're only available to people because of their colour and having certain funds that are only available to people because of their colour and then causing tensions amongst their peers, because the white peers are like, well, why am I being left out and saying things like, he's only, he's only got it because he's black. Aaron Henriques (48:32): Those things don't feel good. It doesn't make me feel good. And I know they're well intentioned, but it doesn't make me feel good at all. Complete opposite. So I hope that some of these firms out there will think about that because the people making these decisions from, you know, from the VC firms, I've looked at where they're promoting this to them. No they're banging on about this stuff all the time. And yet they don't have one black partner in there to speak out because if I was in their firm, I might be speaking out right now, and telling them, what do you think you're doing? You know, that's what I'd be saying. Okay. Aaron Henriques (49:08): And I'd give them a rationale for it as well. So whether or not you liked today I'd still like to hear from you because I actually do think it's an important topic and you know what I I'm sure in the next couple of months I'll be able to come on here. You know, telling you, well, I am one of those so-called black or ethnic minority people. And I've managed to get my funding that I wanted from a VC firm. It's probably going to be one made up of all white founders. And then if that gives some of you, sorry white partners I meant. If that gives some of you out there who are thinking that you're a victim and that you can't get anywhere and you can't start your business, you can't get VC funding. If that gives you the confidence to then go and try it yourself, then great. Aaron Henriques (50:04): You know, I'm all up for that. But the main thing is whatever it is that you've got, wherever it is, you, you want to do, go and do it. Now, the next thing you're going to go and do is go on your Twitter type in @AaronHenray that's AaronHenray. Hit follow and send me a message. If you'd like pictures of planes and stuff like that. Follow me on Instagram. It's also @AaronHenray. I like to keep things simple guys. Okay. So I'm off now. Have a great day, whatever you're doing and until next time Take care.


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