A Q & A with New Community Transformation Fund Director Ollie Howie

After making significant strides by exceeding its initial funding goal of $10 million and securing a managing director, New Community Transformation Fund has been furthering its momentum. From continued fund raising to making investments and building a pipeline, Managing Director, Ollie Howie, shares what’s been taking place and focus areas as the Fund moves forward.

Rapid Growth: When we previously spoke, you were just about to officially start with the Fund and it was preparing to make its first investment. Tell us how things have been going since then. 

Ollie Howie: Things have been going well. We have made our first investment in BAMF Health, [which] is breaking ground with intelligence-based precision medicine through artificial intelligence-enabled molecular imaging and theranostics. We are adding to our pipeline and have over 200 qualified companies to invest in within our scope. We are excited about the path we have ahead of our portfolio companies and we hope to be trusted advisors going forward.

RG: Any challenges you’ve faced? 

OH: Raising venture capital is very hard. Raising a Series A funding round is harder than making it to a professional sports team. However, when compared to all of the other challenges an entrepreneur of color faces, raising capital is just the first step and may be one of the easiest steps along the journey to making a company a worldwide enterprise. We will continue to aid our companies in reaching new milestones post investment to ensure the long-term success of our portfolio.

RG: What changes have you seen within the business climate over the past few months?

OH: The global markets have been more volatile in 2022. This represents a greater opportunity in private markets where valuations do not change daily, but it also makes us become more disciplined around entry valuation and underwriting. We hope to be long-term partners to our portfolio companies and, as such, we have a long-term view. Macroeconomic factors like labor force participation, inflation and global trade have led to new opportunities and new companies emerging to solve new problems.

RG: What unexpected wins have you had?

OH: We were able to secure a new limited partner, 42 North Partners. We thank them and welcome more community support and investment in our Fund so we can all create wealth together. 
We also have added a robust pipeline of over 200 qualified companies to our deal flow funnel and hope to generate returns for our limited partners while also doing good for the community around us.

RG: What is one piece of advice you would give to small business owners right now?

OH: I would advise owners to continue to innovate. Likely the problems you are facing are not unique, so if you can solve them, you can perhaps create something new. I would also say, prepare to have more runway than you [think you need]. Be conservative with cash given the uncertain global markets. 

RG: What do you hope to see in the next three to six months?

OH: Broadly, I hope to see better stability in the global markets and more diversity in venture capital. In our Fund, we hope to continue to make investments — likely two to five more over the next three to six months. We hope our portfolio companies exceed our expectations and help generations to come.

About Leandra Nisbet: Leandra Nisbet, Owner of Stingray Advisory Group LLC and Co-Owner of Brightwork Marine LLC, has over 15 years of experience in leadership, sales & marketing, and graphic design. She helps businesses grow and assists with: strategic planning, marketing concept development/implementation, risk management, and financial organization. She is actively involved in the community, sitting on several Boards and committees, and has been recognized as one of the 40 Under 40 Business Leaders in Grand Rapids.

Contact Leandra Nisbet by email at [email protected]!
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