It’s not every day that you meet a poet/investor, or someone so firmly rooted in boosting both the Black and Jewish communities, but Aaron Samuels is all of those things and more. The affable 33-year-old is a Forbes Under 30 list member, a Cave Canem Fellow, and author of Yarmulkes & Fitted Caps, a collection of poetry exploring his own Black-Jewish identity. He also just co-founded the first venture capitalist (VC) fund backed by Amazon, Google, and Twitter. “And it’s one of the largest first-time funds founded by two Black people,” Samuels notes with pride.
The wunderkind moved to Providence at age three when his dad accepted a job at Brown University. After graduating from Providence Country Day School, Samuels attended Washington University as an Ervin Scholar, then received an MBA at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business as an Arbuckle Leadership Fellow. He spent his 20s in New York and California – and like many other RI expats – was impelled by the pandemic to return home, where he noticed “the incredible emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
With an impressive CV that includes co-founding and serving as COO at Blavity, a media company created for Black millennials, and AfroTech and BLCK VC wealth-building platforms, Samuels announced a new endeavor in November with business partner Brian Hollins: Collide Capital, a seed-stage venture capital firm. “Over the next decade, we don’t just want Collide Capital to be successful; we want hundreds of venture capital firms to be created and succeed in supporting the next generation of diverse talent,” the duo shared in an open letter.
“When the art scene is so proximate to the business scene, and both are so proximate to the political scene, it creates opportunities for collaborations that would take years to broker in other geographies,” Samuels says, referring to the smallest state. “This is a great example of the intersection of community and ideas that spark creativity and innovation that we want at Collide Capital.”
Reasons for Optimism: “The opportunity we're creating for qualified but under-networked and overlooked partners and portfolio companies gives me optimism for the future we are creating now and in the next year. We [Collide Capital] invest in founders with the lived experiences, courage, and grit to create solutions for the next generation.”
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