By Korey Wilson
When it comes to leveling the playing field and raising capital for startup companies, Kendrick Nguyen is among the first at the plate.
The venture capital arena is a traditionally white-male dominated space but, Nguyen is breaking down those barriers to make room for more diverse potential.
“I believe that good ideas exist everywhere. There’s no community, country, or gender that has a lack of ideas,” he says. “Yet very few people have access to capital. It leaves out a lot of good ideas that, if given the chance, would become large, impactful companies and create millions of jobs.”
Nguyen is Co-Founder and CEO of Republic, an online platform that connects innovative, mission-driven startups with investors around the globe.
Launched in July 2016, Republic has raised over $5 million for 33 startups. Companies can raise up to $1.07M and have raised anything between $80 and $1.07M on the platform.
Traditionally, investing in private companies was inaccessible to 97 percent of the US population. A recent law change (Title III of the JOBS Act) is making angel investing more accessible to all. Republic has jumped on this opportunity and built a platform that allows anyone to invest in companies on their platform.
“The model was previously available to only millionaires or accredited investors,” says Nguyen.
“The law changed in 2016 to enable unaccredited, everyday people to invest in startups and private companies for the first time. That’s when I decided to launch Republic.”
Nguyen, a corporate attorney, was no stranger to venture capital. He previously served as general counsel of AngelList, an online fundraising platform that has raised over $350 million for companies like Uber and StyleSeat.
Beyond passing its diligence process, companies using Republic must meet three main criteria: The companies must be (1) tech-enabled, (2) mission-driven, and (3) diverse.
“When we say mission-driven, it doesn’t have to be a company that saves children. It simply means the founding team has to have a purpose to do well beyond their bottom line,” says Nguyen.
“We strongly believe in the value of diverse perspectives among our team. Diversity helps build a better, stronger, and more resilient company.”
More than half of Republic’s companies are led by women.
One such startup is Jetpack, a service that delivers emergency supplies to college students at several campuses around the country.
Coding Autism recently began its crowdfunding campaign on Republic. The organization helps people with autism find STEM-related careers.
This year, Nguyen expected to exceed the number of companies it served to date.
Nguyen currently leads a team of nearly 20 employees. He says the most important qualities for a good leader are decision-making, empathy, and positivity.
“Within five years, I hope Republic attracts a significant percentage of the U.S. population from all demographics and income backgrounds. I want to show people that investing is a way of making a difference and being a more engaged citizen of the world,” he says.
“If you care about social issues, inclusion or other issues, then you have to use the money that you have. I hope that Republic becomes the go-to place for people to vote with their money.”