Overcoming Challenges While Starting a Business
Tara Robinson is a fashion entrepreneur who has already defied the odds as a woman who has raised Venture Capital funding for her company (see my post on The Basics of Venture Capital here). Venture capital investment in all-female founding teams hit $3.3 billion in 2019, and while that sounds like a lot of money, it represents only 2.8% of capital invested across the entire U.S. startup ecosystem last year. It is extremely challenging to raise capital for women, and even more so for Black women. I was introduced to Tara through her start-up accelerator which is providing the structure for her to help scale her company, TracksRacks, with speed and support for success. Her business, TracksRacks, has streamlined the fashion sample industry, and here she’s sharing an inside look at her journey to success.
I asked Tara to share her perspective on raising venture capital – a perspective that is hard to find because it is something so few have had the chance to experience. “As a black woman founder raising funds from VC’s it’s a daunting, intimidating, and elusive task. You are not only worrying about the quality of your product, the scalability of what you’ve built and the KPI’s you’ve reached. You are thinking of what the reaction will be when you appear in the room. How will you be perceived? How can you make sure they focus on your product rather than any prejudice they may have about your capabilities. You think about the network and the intros you don’t have access to. I have seen the impact having that network makes by having white allies and thought of how much further I could have been if I had this help from the beginning of my journey. You question your ability to even raise funds because so few people who look like you have been able to do it. The founder journey isn’t easy for anyone but as a POC you often think of how many great ideas and companies never even got a chance because of lack of access to resources many people take for granted.”
Today I’m sharing an extended interview with the dynamic entrepreneur, and I hope my friends in the industry will consider connecting with Tara to learn about opportunities to work together.
You worked in the fashion industry before launching your own venture. Could you tell me about the moment you were inspired to create TracksRacks?
I had a typical terrible fashion internship for a popular fashion stylist when I got the idea for TracksRacks. During my internship, I got firsthand experience on how chaotic the sample trafficking process was, and I was confident it could be much easier and efficient if there was a digital solution dedicated to streamlining the process.
When I presented the idea to my class everyone started talking about their experiences at other fashion companies and how much this solution was needed in the industry.