Garry Johnson, III is the Founder of Bison Venture Partners, a new company that he founded with his fellow MBA candidates at Howard University. They are raising startup funds through a Community Round. This is an opportunity for friends, family, and community members to become *investors* in their startup!
Research by Morgan Stanley tells us that “Investors report capitalizing multicultural and women-owned businesses at 80% less than businesses overall.” This has been deemed a “blind spot” in which “Multicultural and women-owned businesses could account for $6.8 trillion in gross receipts if they matched their percentage of the labor force and business revenues were equal to traditional firms. This would represent nearly 3X the current output, with a missed opportunity of $4.4 Trillion.” (See: The Trillion-Dollar Blind Spot by Morgan Stanley)
As a team of award-winning entrepreneurs & investors, they see this as a huge opportunity to capitalize where others have failed to see value. Their framework involves putting our talents to use by creating, scaling, and investing in a future that benefits everyone.
Garry is an entrepreneur who gets it from his mother who started a property clean-out business as well as being a real estate agent. On the weekends, she rented a U-Haul truck and packed up Garry and his two younger siblings into that truck. They would drive around Philly and clean out houses and literally scrub them from floor to ceiling, and it was a lot of hard work, but it wasn’t entrepreneurship for his mom. She did it as a way to provide for her family, and she never called herself an entrepreneur. She never called herself a small business owner, she was just doing what she had to do and it wasn’t until Garry entered college where he actually started realizing that she was an entrepreneur, she created value. This is where Garry got his entrepreneurship spirit and he started his first business while still in college.
He started studying entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware even though he was an Exercise Science Major. His career path was supposed to lead him to become a physical therapist but when he got to school, he realized it wasn’t his passion.
Garry started taking advantage of business opportunities and Pitch Competitions resources, ones that focused on building his entrepreneurial mindset more than focusing on becoming a physical therapist. So he ended up picking up a minor in Entrepreneurial Studies and participated in pitch competitions both on and off campus.
“YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE GREAT TO GET STARTED
BUT YOU HAVE TO GET STARTED TO BE GREAT”
Garry stated that he wasn’t great when he started, but kept showing up and kept getting better over time, which opened up a lot of doors and opportunities for him. He became passionate about it and he saw it as an opportunity to use the platforms to empower other people.
One of Garry’s first entrepreneurial endeavors was to host a pitch competition during MLK day holiday, it was called the I Have a Dream Pitch Competition. It was for young men of color ages 8 to 18, a competition very similar to Shark Tank but all the judges were black men from the community who had become entrepreneurs or investors. The goal was to create a platform for young men to see other men who looked like them coming from where he came from, seeing others succeed. There was a cash prize of a thousand dollars and it was a beautiful experience.
So that’s sort of how he started developing his prowess, building and supporting entrepreneurs and creating those platforms, doing those types of things, opening up an opportunity for Garry to get a scholarship to get his Masters in Entrepreneurship from the University of Delaware.
After graduation, Garry launched a nonprofit called First Founders which was basically an accelerator program with a mission to build a more equitable and inclusive ecosystem, where everyone, regardless of what you look like, how you identify, get access to high-quality resources to build their startup.
Started in 2019, they help early-stage entrepreneurs launch successful startups through our accelerator programs, community support, and access to resources. Their support is free, and they take no equity (we create it). During the pandemic, First Founders launched a partnership with Google, which is probably the biggest partner to date however, they have also partnered with Microsoft, IBM, and Procter and Gamble.
Doing that work inspired Garry to go back to school, to get his MBA at the illustrious Howard University, and along with his classmates formed a company called Bison Venture Partners, which is a for-profit company but the mission is very much similar to the nonprofit.
Bison Venture Partners has more of a focus on helping multicultural entrepreneurs get investment ready. They are investing in companies and are also connecting entrepreneurs with Venture Capitalists and Angel groups so that they can lock in more significant financing to grow their businesses.
Bison Venture Partners is a vehicle to create a change that we want to see, by leveraging the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a law passed during President Obama’s administration that allows everyday people and small business owners to raise capital from Angel Investors who are not individually wealthy.
Please click to listen to the entire podcast interview to learn more about how you can invest with just a $100 and “join the herd” as well as to purchase VC-ish merchandise including pre-ordering his new book The Ghetto VC! https://wefunder.com/bisonvp