Championing Diversity: A Closer Look at Morgan Stanley’s Inclusive Ventures Lab and Its Mission

Building Value In Innovation Ecosystems Conversation Series- OneValley

In the startup landscape, underrepresented founders often face unique challenges in securing funding and support for their startups. However, organizations like Morgan Stanley's Inclusive Ventures Lab are working to level the playing field and empower diverse entrepreneurs to succeed.

In a recent episode of OneValley's Building Value in Innovation Ecosystems series, host Sabah Baxamoosa sat down with LaToya Wilson, the Managing Director of Morgan Stanley's Inclusive Ventures Lab (MSIVL), to discuss the lab's mission and impact as well as the evolving landscape of inclusive entrepreneurship.


Meet LaToya Wilson, the Managing Director of MSIVL

  • LaToya Wilson is the Managing Director of Morgan Stanley's Inclusive Ventures Lab, supporting underrepresented founders. 
  • Her journey from traditional finance to impact investing led her to focus on empowering diverse entrepreneurs. 


Measuring Success in Supporting Underrepresented Founders

  • MSIVL measures success by the amount of additional capital raised by portfolio companies and the hours of support provided. 
  • The lab has helped 92 companies raise over $200 million in additional capital and has provided over 1,600 hours of one-on-one support.
  • 20 women from the program have raised more than $1 million each, a significant achievement given the industry's lack of diversity. 


Tackling Challenges Faced by Diverse Entrepreneurs

  • Underrepresented founders often face challenges due to investors' limited networks and lack of understanding of certain markets.
  • MSIVL helps founders tell their stories effectively and connects them with relevant resources within Morgan Stanley and beyond.
  • The lab provides customized support to each founder, addressing their specific needs and challenges.


About the MSIVL Program and Application Process

  • The competitive application process runs from February to March, with the program starting in September.
  • During the five-month program, founders receive capital, content, connections, and community support to accelerate their growth.
  • The program culminates in a demo day, where founders showcase their progress to a global network of investors.


Practices for Fellow Innovation Ecosystem Builders

  • Ecosystem builders should identify their strengths and expertise to effectively support underrepresented founders.
  • Providing tailored support based on each founder's needs is crucial for their success.
  • Ecosystem builders should focus on filling gaps in the entrepreneurial landscape and connecting founders with the right resources.


Trending at MSIVL: FinTech, Healthcare, and EdTech

  • FinTech, healthcare, women's health, and edtech are emerging as promising areas for underrepresented founders.
  • AI is becoming an enabler for many startups, helping them improve efficiency and solve problems in innovative ways.


Advice for Aspiring Founders 

  • Persistence and commitment to solving a problem are essential for success as an underrepresented founder.
  • Conducting thorough research, building a strong network, and seeking community support can help founders navigate challenges.
  • Prioritizing mental health and learning from other fo


“Lead to Win” by Carla Harris and Final Thoughts

  • "Lead to Win" by Carla Harris, the founder of the Multicultural Client Strategy Group at Morgan Stanley, is an inspirational and motivational book recommended by LaToya Wilson


As the conversation drew to a close, it became clear that LaToya Wilson and the Morgan Stanley Inclusive Ventures Lab are making significant strides in supporting underrepresented founders and fostering a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through a combination of capital, connections, and community, the lab is empowering diverse entrepreneurs to overcome challenges and unlock their full potential.


We'd like to extend our heartfelt thanks to LaToya Wilson for joining us on this episode of Building Value in Innovation Ecosystems and sharing her invaluable insights and experiences. If you found this conversation inspiring and informative, we encourage you to explore more episodes of the series below. 

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