Ross Baird: Increase the flow of capital to rural entrepreneurs

Editor’s note: As banks have consolidated and closed small-town branches, only 18% of new businesses get a bank loan. Less than 1% of businesses, mostly tech companies in big cities, ever raise venture capital. “That leaves 81% of businesses stuck with no formal access to capital,” Village Capital’s Ross Baird told the U.S. House of

BlackRock just did one thing that changed the game for anyone who invests

My firm, Village Capital, always tells entrepreneurs to build a product that’s a painkiller, not a vitamin. Vitamins are products people theoretically want, and make you feel better. People don’t need them, though. Painkillers are things that are necessary — not just nice to have. Put it this way, when was the last time you bought a vitamin

After Charlottesville, does impact investing even matter?

I had a conversation with a leader in impact investing this week about Charlottesville (UVA is my alma mater). The investor asked me, “In the wake of everything that’s happening, does impact investing even matter?” The investor’s question got me thinking. I re-read Antony Bugg-Levine’s ImpactAlpha post from February: Does impact investing matter in the age

How Jeff Bezos Can Make the Biggest Immediate Philanthropic Impact — And Keep the Pitchforks at Bay

Over the last 24 hours, Jeff Bezos has made news for two big things. And they’re related. Yesterday, the Amazon founder, not a publicly known philanthropist, took to Twitter to say: “I’m thinking I want much of my philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now — short term — at the intersection of urgent need and

Why the Ford Foundation’s $1 billion announcement is a bigger deal than you think

I once talked to a successful businesswoman and philanthropist — let’s call her Jane — who had set up her own foundation to give money to educational causes. I was trying to convince Jane to invest in an education technology startup that had been improving student outcomes in low-income schools, and rapidly growing. Jane looked perplexed. She said, “Ross,

Village Capital: Closing the Entrepreneurial Gender Gap

To truly change the world, entrepreneurship has to include everyone. Technology pioneer Freada Kapor Klein recently told me: “We can’t close gaps to access and opportunity without having our entrepreneurs come from the communities we are trying to serve. Lived experience is essential in creating successful businesses.” Unfortunately, today, we’re leaving nearly half the entrepreneurs

Disrupting Venture Capital With Real-World Impact and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Backers of startups worldwide are looking for the next “disruptive trend” that can overturn industries. Ironically, the venture capital industry has begun to resemble markets that investors themselves are looking to disrupt. Speculation about the “next dot-com bubble” abounds weekly; entrepreneurship champion the Kauffman Foundation reflected upon two decades of investing venture capital by saying,