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Introducing Spoke: The True Ventures Scout Program

By Phil Black, February 3, 2021

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One of our unofficial mottos at our firm has long been to “work with who you know, but always know more people.” This rings true within our community of founders, many of whom we’ve funded multiple times as they create new companies. It also reflects our intent to keep expanding our network and funding entrepreneurs who have vibrant, wildly important ideas but fewer resources to get them off the ground. 

We want to live and work in a world where all founders get equal access to capital and opportunity. And we want to enable a more diverse group of people – spanning all races and gender identities – to raise venture capital and build world-changing companies. 

Introducing Spoke: The True Ventures Scout Program 

To help create this new, equitable future, we’re thrilled to launch Spoke, a program designed to empower a cohort of individuals from the True community to evaluate and make venture capital investments with guidance from our team here at True. We will be doing this with the shared goal of widening our community to include people from all backgrounds and experiences.

You may not know this, but we named True Ventures after the idea of “truing” a wheel – that is, when you bring a wheel into alignment for an optimal ride. With venture capital investing, we aim to do the same by aligning our intentions with those of our limited partners and True portfolio founders who have the stamina and desire to build “something from nothing” even when roadblocks arise.

Our first Spoke program investors are an ambitious trio from our community of entrepreneurs and business leaders: Upsie Founder Clarence Bethea, former bLife Co-founder Paul Campbell, and strongDM Co-founder Liz Zalman. They are eager to help new founders, curious to learn “the other side” of entrepreneurship, and passionate about changing the face of the venture ecosystem. 

Together, we’ll seek out a more representative group of entrepreneurs and creative visionaries who are building businesses not with only the finish line in mind, but also the drive to create lasting, impactful companies. 

Clarence, Paul and Liz - Spoke Program Investors

True Ventures Spoke Program Investors: Clarence Bethea, Paul Campbell, and Liz Zalman.

Beyond Spoke, we’ve rolled out two other initiatives that will help us reach our goal of equitable representation not only among True Founders, but across our entire portfolio. These include an update to our term sheet that communicates our commitment to building an inclusive, diverse community and a request that founders prioritize diversity and a shared sense of belonging among their teams from the earliest stage of company formation. 

So we can measure our progress, we’re launching an annual survey that asks portfolio founders to submit demographic metrics across three layers of their organizations: co-founders, C-suite leadership, and their greater teams. We will share the results with our founder community to shine a light on where our work must continue and also so we can celebrate progress together. 

We know these initiatives are just the starting point of our work in creating a more balanced ecosystem. But we feel very positive about the abilities within our team and community, especially with Clarence, Paul, and Liz who have shown us who they are as leaders and what the future of our industry can and should look more like. 

Welcome, Spoke investors! We’re honored to start this journey with you and continue building momentum together in our industry.