EP 18: Dr. Shante Williams’ Superpower is Invisibility

by | Jan 19, 2020 | Episodes

Dr. Shante Williams earned her MBA from Queens University of Charlotte and her Ph.D. in biomedical science & neurological surgery from Ohio State University. As a healthcare Venture Capitalist, she has over 13 years of experience in Biotech & Pharmaceutical research, development, and consulting. She’s currently the Chief Operating Officer at Black Pearl Global Investments. And, she recently won aCharlotte Inno on Fire Award. According to the Charlotte INNO website, ”Dr. Shante Williams is a veritable renaissance woman; as a venture capitalist, her fundraising efforts include raising $50 million for both a health care-and social impact-focused fund. Additionally, she advises more than 130 entities across the ecosystem and serves as managing partner of RW Capital Partners.”

In this episode, we discuss:
  • Why she thinks Charlotte needs to change our idea of what entrepreneurship is — as a way to gain greater support for all founders of businesses (not just “high growth” but also “mom and pop” businesses)

  • How and why she studied biomedical science & neurological surgery

  • Why she yells at the TV whenever watching Grey’s Anatomy (Who doesn’t, right?)
  • How the concept of time changed for her while studying neurology

  • Why her company, Black Pearl Global Investments, focuses on dental care, telemedicine, or manufacturing in the health care space and…

  • Why Black Pearl looks for innovations in Asia, Africa, or the Caribbean (and innovations that have to thrive in under-developed systems)

  • How Co-Active Capital promotes social entrepreneurship through entrepreneurship in Charlotte’s “opportunity zones”

  • Why Co-Active Capital is raising money to create “the Boost Pad” – an accelerator-type program and fund that connects “regular people” (who want to start local businesses) to skilled professionals (like marketers, accountants, and pitch coaches, etc.) who will train and help them raise money, execute their business plans, and create jobs in their communities

  • Why her presence, as an African American female, in the venture capital space is statistically significant (See: The Diane Project)

  • What she’s looking for in a start-up Founder

  • “I don’t believe in failure. About seven years ago I heard a statement that has really changed my life and it said “there’s no such thing as failure because every decision ultimately leads you to the same path. So what most people would call failure, I just call a turn or a detour.” 

  • “My great fear is really not knocking it out of the park. So I try to not shy away from saying things like ‘I’m going to change healthcare worldwide.’“

  • “I want to be know as someone who really lived, loved, and touched lives.”

  • “Charlotte really needs how to figure out how to be Charlotte, not Austin-lite or Silicon Valley-lite, or a little New York or a baby Atlanta. We have to figure out our own identify and stop trying to copy, or cherry pick portions of other cities’ identities and impose them upon Charlotte. Because I don’t think it works.”

  • “The fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs and businesses are started by black women.”

  • “For me, success has meant using my body as a black woman to be invisible. Because people don’t necessarily see black women in meetings, they don’t see them as threats, they don’t see them as competition. And I was able to use that invisibility as a superpower. People didn’t didn’t care about speaking freely or candidly in front of me because they didn’t perceive me as a threat… And I use that invisibility as a way to just kick ass.”

  • “I’ve had people ask me, ‘Can you just introduce me to some black people.’ And I have to remind them that I’m not the “Black Whisperer.”

  • “I am what people will tell you is an ‘aggressive personality,’ but they would call it “‘ambition’ and ‘directness’ in someone else.”

  • “If you are a failed Founder, that tells me that you might actually know a bit… and know what not to do this time around.”

  • “As a person of color in the venture capital… sometimes people want my money but they don’t want my opinion. They are not sold separately.

Pitch Advice:
  • “Practice delivering the key points in a way that’s personable and makes people want to interact with you. Emote through your words and connect to the people listening to you.”
  • “The more questions you can get through in a pitch competition short Q&A, the better you end up doing in that competition.”
  • “Yeah, you can use a story in the pitch, but not in the Q&A. Shorter answers make you more effective with judges.”
  • “I hate videos in pitch decks. I’ve never seen someone do it where it was seamless.”
  • What she asks when working with start-up Founders: “Are you coachable?”
Join the Conversation:

Black Pearl Global Investments

Co-Active Capital

Shante’s LinkedIn

Email Us: [email protected]

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