A Word of Encouragement, Renewed Commitment, and Invitation from Resilient Ventures

By: Tom Droege, Co-Founder of Resilient Ventures and President of Droege Computing Services, Inc.

Forward by Pat Gouhin, CEO: In this new blog, we have a responsibility so share the thought leadership, advice, counsel, and impactful communications that are taking place throughout the angel investment community during these trying times. I was fortunate enough to receive a message from one of the respected leaders in my local community, Tom Droege of Resilient Ventures. Our worlds have been turned upside down and this often results in an inward focus but Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity must remain an integral part of our forward looking strategy as a community.  Tom has made this point beautifully in his message.  With Tom's permission I offer you the following thoughts that I hope you will consider as you figure out how you can play a part in making the world a better place. 

Dear Angel Syndicate,

The severity of Covid-19 and its impact on our daily lives is indeed tremendous.  At Resilient Ventures, we are heeding the extraordinary precautions from our government and public leaders. We are glad to be a part of the Angel Syndicate and want share our perspective as we prepare to gather next week.

As many leaders have said, in times of crisis, we discover both our frailty and the strength of our character.  Covid-19 is changing the landscape of how we live, play and work on so mainly levels. Our central concern at Resilient remains the matter of massive economic racial inequity and closing the wealth gap across the color line.

There will be no "getting back to normal" after Covid-19.  There will be a new normal of a drastically change society. Universities going deeper and further into distance learning is such an example. A good ripple effect is the potential to solve the question of declining birth rates and class sizes, more affordable higher education, and substantial reduction in student debt.  Just as we struggle to imagine the total impact and imminent loss of life, we struggle to consider the potential life giving innovations and solutions that will be brought to bear.

Yet, who will lose out? There will be big winners -- a couple of them may be Resilient portfolio companies.  But from history, we can safely predict that African-American companies will be hurt the greatest and obstructed the most from the positive opportunities.  From the GI Bill we learned two lessons.   The federal wealth building programs did not benefit African-Americans including the Federal Housing Administration, Social Security, the GI Bill, etc.  In the case of the GI Bill, Second, few African-Americans received free education, and while the U.S. was educating an unprecedented number of college students, the universities were constructing the brick and mortar buildings. What companies benefited from all that work?  Not African-American construction companies, that I can tell you. There is a triple impact to African-Americans. They are excluded from the direct opportunities, they are not able to participate in the collateral opportunities, and without a financial cushion that has been built for others, when things get tough they are the first to lose their homes, businesses, and farms.

When we launched Resilient Ventures, we were intentional in joining the movement for economic equity and countering systemic racism.  We predict that in general, as in the past, African-American companies are not going to be funded to be a part of the great tech advances of our time.

We were thinking then about Green, Hydroponics, Artificial Intelligence, etc.  But now we have this unexpected shift.

We join all of America in responding wisely and with resilience to new challenges in uncertain times.  We are blessed to have enough capital in the U.S. to fight and come back strong.  We have made solid decisions in our first year.  We imagine ourselves running to the frontlines, picking up supplies along the way. We welcome anyone who wants to join us.

About Tom Droege: Tom is the co-founder of Resilient Ventures, a $10 million committed capital Investment fund. Resilient Ventures' vision is to disrupt the disparities in access and opportunity for African-American entrepreneurs by investing in their businesses. By bringing access to capital, networks, and expertise to companies that are ready, resilient, and experienced, our aim is to close the wealth gap and accelerate black owned and founded businesses. We will foster economic business growth by entering the entrepreneurial ecosystem in resilient pursuit of integrated relationships and beloved community.  Tom Droege is president of Droege Computing Services, Inc. a software development and IT services firm founded in 1985. He holds a BS in Engineering Physics, University of Illinois. Highlights of his enterprise and marketplace systems include Auction Management, Inventory and Purchasing Systems, Patient Care Systems, and Toxicology. He has written for PC Magazine, Popular Computing, Data Based Advisor and Midnight Engineering. He created the 1991-1997 Developers Competition, the largest software competition worldwide. He was a founding board member of NC Tech. He is the creator of StampAuctionNetwork.com, the top stamp auction site in the world. He is an auction systems expert in the wine and stamp field.