Community Spotlight: Nasir Qadree of Zeal Capital Partners

BLCK VC
4 min readDec 21, 2023
Richard Odior, Stefanie Thomas, Nasir Qadree, and Bianca Phillip, all of Zeal Capital Partners

Our December 2023 Community Spotlight features Nasir C. Qadree, BLCK VC DMV Chapter co-lead. Nasir is Founder and Managing Partner of Zeal Capital Partners, a mission driven early-stage venture capital firm investing across the financial technology/inclusion, the future of work & learning, and health equity categories. Notable investments include Esusu, Humanly, Stratyfy, and ViuHealth. Prior to Zeal, Qadree served as Associate Director for AT&T’s $400 million Aspire Social Investment Fund, where he oversaw direct investments in early stage companies. Nasir began his venture career at Village Capital, a global seed stage venture capital firm as Global Head of Education Investments and later leading the firm’s US Economic Opportunity portfolio. He began his career in the public markets, at Goldman Sachs and State Street Corporation. He is a graduate of Class 26 Kauffman Fellows program, and holds a BA from Hampton University, from which he graduated magna cum laude. The Atlanta native currently resides in Washington DC.

Pen Howell: What inspired your journey into VC?

Nasir: I love history, and in the context of the innovation economy, I have always been interested in how, where, and who started our most iconic companies. What was happening and influenced that particular entrepreneur to drop everything and have the conviction to launch and execute their business. I am also fascinated by the importance of understanding the system of venture capital. When we think about the asset class of venture capital, and those who have reaped the benefits, it has frustrated me that people of color and women have historically been left out. Not left out for the sake of being left out, but missing opportunity to create generational wealth. For these reasons and more, my investment career has a laser focus on democratizing access to capital and resources, particularly for founders of color. Since founding Zeal, our goal has been to become an industry leader and the best exemplar on how to source, invest, and scale diverse management teams solving our most pressing societal challenges, all while capturing massive TAM.

PH: What are some of the present challenges that Black Fund Managers face in this moment? Where are the greatest opportunities?

Nasir: I share with my team often and publicly that we are in a renaissance era for aspiring and current black fund managers. Organizations such as BLCK VC’s Black Venture Institute are expanding the pipeline by demystifying what it takes to break into the industry and how to start your own investment firm. For those who have clear, long standing track records, it is an exciting time to be a VC. However, this era comes with challenges and opportunities. I think the biggest challenge is convincing traditional asset allocators (limited partners) that partnering with Black fund managers and their firms is differentiated and great for business. I also believe in the importance of building bridges between black fund managers and chief investment officers at university endowments or asset management firms.

What I find most exciting is that black led investment firms are thriving even while their vintage is early. At Zeal we are proud seed investors in Esusu, one of the few black led technology companies valued at $1 billion. I believe it is vital that asset allocators understand that backing companies like Esusu are repeatable, and they are more unicorn companies maturing that will be celebrated soon.

PH: Tell us about Barclays Black Formation Investments (BBFI) — What does it hope to accomplish?

Nasir: BBFI serves a new $50 million investment pool of capital anchored by Barclays as the sole limited partner and managed by Zeal, with recently hired Stefanie Thomas leading strategy execution as Managing Director. This strategic investment expands our platform and team in backing black-led technology companies at the earliest stages while supporting aspiring fund managers through our $5m Scout Program. For entrepreneurs, our focus is executing our post investment framework that enables each company in the BBFI portfolio to reach their next stage of growth and see a path towards becoming profitable. For our aspiring fund managers, we hope to partner with a diverse group of functional experts who are passionate about building an investment track record and who are values aligned to Zeal’s mission.

PH: How can founders tap in?

Nasir: We encourage all founders to submit their project here. Each submission is viewed like a warm introduction. Each project receives a thorough review.

PH: What’s next for you and for Zeal?

Nasir: We have reached an exciting inflection point in our firm’s life cycle. With the addition of BBFI to the Zeal platform, we are excited to begin partnering with innovative companies at the earliest stages and supporting aspiring fund managers to establish track records. Our scouts will preliminarily focus on individuals with functional expertise, industry alignment to our core strategy, and networks proximate to black founders. At Zeal we will provide participating scouts with the training they need to identify and evaluate investment opportunities. We have an opportunity to shape perspectives on the future of venture capital, and most importantly uplift and amplify narratives that speak to an entrepreneur’s road that is often less traveled.

--

--

BLCK VC

Connecting, Empowering and Advancing Black Venture Investors. We are the change that we seek!