Daniel Acheampong is the Co-Founder and General Partner at Visible Hands. Visible Hands is a startup accelerator and venture capital firm that works to support diverse founders. In this post, we'll delve into Daniel's background, investments and the value that he and his team provide founders with at Visible Hands.
Startup Boston (SB): Before we jump in, could you briefly discuss your area of educational study and early career trajectory after school?
Daniel Acheampong (DA): I studied at Brandeis University and later obtained my Masters in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School and my MBA from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. After Brandeis, I worked at Goldman Sachs, learning about the market and working with disciplined, intelligent colleagues. I then joined Summit Partners, a growth equity firm in Boston, before co-founding Visible Hands VC.
SB: Your journey was inspired by people taking a chance on you and your sisters. Can you tell us more about this and how it influenced your decision to start Visible Hands?
DA: Growing up, I was fortunate to have people who believed in my potential. As I observed the startup funding landscape, I couldn't help but notice the significant disparities faced by women and people of color. With three sisters, I felt a strong responsibility to address this issue and level the playing field. Furthermore, research shows that diverse teams outperform non-diverse ones, presenting a significant investment opportunity. This inspired me and my partners to create Visible Hands.
SB: So early days were an interesting storyline. Can you touch on some of the skills and interests that translate to venture investing?
DA: My experiences at Goldman Sachs and Summit Partners exposed me to the finance world and helped me understand the importance of discipline, high standards, and working with smart individuals. These skills and interests translated well into venture investing, where I could leverage my background to identify promising startups and help them grow.
SB: How does the cohort model used by Visible Hands help founders navigate their experience with less traditional pitfalls?
DA: The cohort model, which I first experienced at Brandeis through the Posse Foundation, fosters a strong support network among founders. By bringing together diverse talent, Visible Hands helps founders learn from each other, share experiences, and navigate the entrepreneurial journey more effectively. This approach mitigates some of the traditional pitfalls faced by underrepresented founders.
SB: Are there any investments you made recently that you’re really excited about, and why?
DA: One recent investment I'm excited about is Parfait, a company founded by four black women who use AI-back technology to help people buy customized wigs. Despite their impressive backgrounds, they faced a lot of bias in their fundraising journey. Visible Hands was one of the early institutional investors to support them. They’ve gone on to build an incredible company and raise millions of dollars to scale the business.
SB: What is your firm’s team structure and how does this set you up for success?
DA: Visible Hands is a venture capital firm uniquely positioned to invest in exceptional overlooked founders. We source 100% of our portfolio investments through our accelerator programs. This focus enables us to source promising startups, support founders through the accelerator, and make strategic investments to help companies scale effectively.
SB: How do you support founders / add value to the companies that you invest in?
DA: We put people first, considering founders not only as entrepreneurs but also as individuals with unique lives outside of their businesses. Our accelerator and fellowship programs provide 10-14 weeks of guidance on essential aspects of company building, and we follow this with tailored support based on each founder's needs and goals.
SB: Are there ways that you support funds and add value beyond investment?
DA: We leverage our extensive network and knowledge of the industry to connect founders with valuable resources and opportunities, such as pilot programs, potential customers, and strategic partnerships. This support goes beyond financial investment, helping companies grow and thrive in a competitive market.
SB: What excites you - what do you look for in portfolio investments?
DA: I'm excited by companies that address the funding disparities faced by women and people of color. We look for innovative startups with strong founding teams that have identified compelling problems and developed effective solutions. Our goal is to support these companies and help them scale successfully.
SB: What is the best way to get in touch with your firm?
DA: The best way to connect with us is through our website at visiblehands.vc or social channels. We encourage founders and those interested in our accelerator program to reach out and explore the opportunities we offer to support and grow transformative startups.
In conclusion, Daniel Acheampong's journey has been shaped by people who believed in him, and his passion for addressing funding disparities faced by underrepresented founders. Through Visible Hands, he and his team are working tirelessly to provide the necessary support, guidance and resources to help these founders succeed and make a lasting impact on the world of entrepreneurship.
About the Author - Gabon Williams is a software security engineer who has worked as a venture capitalist, startup CTO, and a web3 developer. He is committed to empowering individuals and imparting compassionate leadership skills through mentorship. He also volunteers to promote technology and financial literacy to underprivileged students. Gabon shares his expertise on a range of topics through his blog, where he focuses on empowering others to achieve their full potential.