Jan 26, 2023
Base10’s Ade Ajao: A data-driven approach to funding more diverse founders
On today’s episode of McKinsey on Startups, we talk to Adeyemi Ajao, the cofounder and Managing Partner at Base 10 Partners. The San Francisco-based VC firm focuses on startups bringing automation technology to a variety of sectors in what it calls the Real Economy, including logistics, retail, healthcare, finance, and food. Its investments have included Nubank, Instacart, Figma, and Rappi. While Ade and his co-founder TJ Nahigian take a particular, data-driven approach to choosing their investments, that is far from the most distinctive thing about Ade or Base10. Last year, with the closing of a new $460 million fund, Base10 became the first Black-led venture firm to hit the milestone of having more than $1 billion in assets under management. Ade is half-Nigerian and he grew up in Southern Spain, where he co-founded and eventually sold a company called Tuenti, a social networking site often called the “Spanish Facebook”. He relocated to the West Coast to get his MBA and Stanford, and before co-founding Base10 in 2018, he co-founded and sold another startup, Identified, and was an active investor, helping to launch such successes as Cabify and JobandTalent. Base10 is not formally a diversity-focused investor, but a large share of its investments do happen to be with minority founders, and Ade and the firm spend a lot of time thinking and working to grow the pipeline and increase opportunities in tech for Black and other underrepresented populations. Its Advancement Initiative is a $250 million growth-stage fund that donates 50 percent of returns to HBCUs to fund scholarships for minority students, with several HBCUs also acting as LPs.
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