Today we’d like to introduce you to Nassir Criss.
Hi Nassir, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I grew up on the East Coast between New Jersey and Virginia for most of my life. I attended Christopher Newport University where I launched my first business with a fraternity brother. I knew then that entrepreneurship was a passion for me. After helping scale dozens of startups and early-stage businesses, I moved to NYC to join a company called Skopenow. The CEO took me under his wing and taught me how to effectively build a high-growth business. The company raised venture funding and I knew then that I wanted to learn more about VC and how it could be used to level the wealth gap and playing field for underrepresented founders.
I moved to Kansas City in 2020 amidst the pandemic as a Fellow with Venture For America, a national nonprofit that hosts a two-year Fellowship to provide recent college grads with firsthand startup experience and help them become leaders who make meaningful impact with their careers. In my first year in Kansas City, I joined the City’s 3rd District Economic Development team, became an Advisory Board Member for Black Excellence KC, and built several partnerships with entrepreneurship and innovation teams in Kansas City.
Entering my second year of the Fellowship, I became the first employee at Sixty8 Capital — due to my passion for helping close the wealth gap in underserved communities. Sixty8 Capital is a $20 million venture capital firm based in the Midwest dedicated to investing in Black, Brown, Women, LGBTQ, and disabled founders in overlooked geographies across the U.S. We’ve already been able to execute investments and build events in the community like our “Capital Conversations,” where we host founders and investors in one room and have candid conversations about how to build, scale, and fund great business ideas.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The journey has not been easy. 90% of startups fail. Business relationships end. It’s due to a variety of factors but primarily can be pointed to lack of funding, resources, or poor management. I’ve had my fair share of business ideas and partnerships that have collapsed but have also had a few successes. For instance, choosing to walk away from a billion-dollar firm I was a part of here in town wasn’t the easiest decision for me. The name of the game is to keep going – to endure the marathon. Pivoting is a vital skill needed to be an entrepreneur. Each day will present challenges, but your main goal is to be a Chief Problem Solver. That’s what separates great entrepreneurs, investors, and business executives from the rest — it’s their ability to pivot and find new ways to solve problems internally for their teams and externally for all stakeholders involved.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Sixty8 Capital?
Sixty8 Capital is a $20 million Midwest-based venture capital firm dedicated to investing in Black, Brown, Women, LGBTQ+, and disabled founders. We use capital, connections, and community to support scalable and investable tech and tech-enabled companies with a clear road to profitability. Our check sizes range from $250k-$750k into businesses to help with sales and marketing, operations, product development, and more. We are one of the only firms in the U.S. that is Black Female-led, and 100% dedicated in our investment thesis to supporting undercapitalized founders.
The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
Covid-19 has taught us that work can truly be distributed remotely. I believe the new world we’re going into will be dominated by businesses that either have already or will continue to find new ways to build diverse teams across geographies and time zones. While some meetings still need to happen in person with a traditional handshake, most things can be done virtually now. We will see more of that moving into the future. Due to this very reason, we will finally have more visibility on great companies coming out of overlooked ecosystems. Historically, most venture backable companies have come out of Silicon Valley — but there are new hotbeds for technology across the Midwest and Southeast. Notable geographies to look into: Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah…the list goes on.
Lastly, I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to check on loved ones and people in our networks. We get so caught up in work that we forget to prioritize the important things which are the people who continue to love and support us in our entrepreneurial journeys. Covid-19 reminded us to stay disciplined and refocus on the things that matter.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: Sixty8.capital
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sixty8capital
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/sixty8capital