Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Angel Investor and Ureeka Co-Founder Melissa Bradley Shares Advice for Underrepresented Entrepreneurs
Melissa Bradley’s career has centered on entrepreneurship, investing, and leadership. She is founder and general partner of 1863 Ventures and co-founder of Ureeka, an online platform for entrepreneurs that is providing Comcast RISE recipients – small businesses owned by people of color – with the networks and expertise needed to grow their businesses. Together with partners like Ureeka, Comcast is committed to investing in diverse small businesses that play a critical role in driving our economy.
In honor of National Entrepreneurs’ Day, we asked Melissa to share her top three tips for underrepresented entrepreneurs, what she looks for when considering companies to invest in, and her thoughts on the role entrepreneurs play in growing jobs and building wealth. Below are some highlights of the conversation.
What are your top three tips for underrepresented entrepreneurs?
Melissa Bradley: “As we move into 2022, and I think we're still all adjusting to what this new normal is, my tips are grounded in where I know there are the greatest gaps, either because they have been intentionally excluded from traditional systems that foster entrepreneurship or because we know that too often these entrepreneurs lack access to capital.”
Learn more about Melissa’s advice for underrepresented entrepreneurs and why they are essential to our economy and collective success:
In addition to your role at Ureeka, you are also an angel investor. What do you consider when choosing companies to invest in?
Melissa Bradley: “I look for three things. One, I spend a lot of time with the entrepreneur. I know people say ‘team, team, team’, but I'm not looking for a pedigree. I'm not looking for years and years of accolades. I'm looking for passion. I'm looking for commitment. I'm looking for a willingness to learn because these are uncharted waters. And I'm looking for a desire to be the best that they possibly can. You know, we're all going to make mistakes and they're going to learn. I want to know that the entrepreneur is willing to learn with me and learn with others to be able to advance the investment.”
“The second thing is, I do want to understand the market. There's a lot of things I don't know. I like to be able to rely on the entrepreneur and their community to really understand what is the market opportunity here.”
“[Lastly] And what you probably hear a lot is making sure there's product market fit. But in that, making sure that the entrepreneur understands that things are going to have to change, there is going to be some pivots and they're comfortable with change.”
Looking at who they are as a person, looking at the market they're in and understanding their willingness to grow and commitment to scale are three things that are pretty important to me as an angel investor.
Why are businesses run by underrepresented entrepreneurs so important to the overall economy?
Melissa Bradley: “They are the economic driver of this country. We know that if you were to total up all the women-based businesses here in the United States, they would have the fifth largest GDP in the world, which is ahead of France, the United Kingdom, and Italy.”
“And if you were to use African-American entrepreneurs as a proxy for other entrepreneurs of color, we know that they contribute 10 percent of the GDP year-over-year and are starting businesses six times beyond the national average. We also know Latinx businesses are the fastest growing in this country.”
I think it's important that we begin to support, to validate and to invest in underrepresented founders, because it's not just good for them and for their communities. It's actually pretty darn good for our country.
Partnerships with organizations like Ureeka and programs like Comcast RISE are part of Project UP, our comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of Unlimited Possibilities. Backed by a $1 billion commitment to reach 50 million people, Project UP encompasses the programs and community partnerships across Comcast, NBCUniversal, and Sky that connect people to the Internet, advance economic mobility, and open doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, storytellers, and creators. Learn more about Project UP here.