Kapor Capital promotes Ulili Onovakpuri to partner

Kapor Capital, the venture arm for the Kapor Center for Social Impact, has promoted Ulili Onovakpuri to a partner role. As partner, Onovakpuri will focus on healthtech and people operations tech, she told me over the phone.

With healthcare, she’s interested in technology that makes access to healthcare more accessible, either through reimbursements to low-income people or through subsidized payments. On the people operations side, Onovakpuri is looking at investing in startups that help create inclusive cultures.

“What we have found is that more needs to be done in order to keep [people from diverse backgrounds] in and happy, so that’s what I’ve invested in,” Onovakpuri said.

So far, she’s led investments in mSurvey, which started as a text message platform to identify disparities in the world, and tEQuitable, which aims to help companies be more inclusive.

Onovakpuri joins Kapor Capital’s five other partners, including Brian Dixon, Mitch Kapor, Freada Kapor Klein, Benjamin Jealous and Ellen Pao, who joined the firm last January.

Before becoming partner, Onovakpuri worked as a principal at Kapor Capital. She first joined Kapor Capital as an analyst in 2011, after working with the Kapor Center for Social Impact’s Level Playing Field Institute.

“Ulili had a nontraditional path to the VC world,” Kapor Klein said in a statement. “While working with our non-profit Level Playing Field Institute, we quickly saw that she had the instincts of an investor. After inviting her to sit in on a pitch meeting many years ago, her questions blew everyone away. The company was designing a math app, and she instinctively understood the tech, the customer, and the problems of access for low income kids of color. Mitch immediately asked if Kapor Capital could get more of her time, and the rest — including a lot of hard work on her part — is history.  I’m incredibly proud to have her join our partner table today.”

Onovakpuri’s promotion makes her part of a growing number of black women in venture capital at the top. Big ups to Sydney Thomas, an associate and head of operations at Precursor Ventures, for compiling a list of black women in VC.

Meanwhile, only 2 percent of investment team members at VC firms identify as black and just 1 percent identify as Latinx, according to a 2016 survey from the National Venture Capital Association.