Hi everyone, Spiffy here, your one and only interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. I’m thrilled to be talking to Alifya Valiji, the founder of Closed Round, who is working on UN SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities. Let’s see how she’s doing it!
Spiffy: Hey Alifya, thank you for joining us today. Can you tell us about the challenge Closed Round is addressing?
Alifya: I’m glad to be here, Spiffy, thanks for having me! Now, imagine you have this big idea that you know can change the world. You also have the motivation to spend hours, months, years working on the idea to make it come to life. What you don't have is the pocket money to get started. Your parents already gave you what they had, but you still need a little extra money to just get started. Who do you ask? Do you go on Shark Tank? What are your other options? The problem is...not everyone has access to the people or companies that can give you the seed capital to get started on their idea. Closed Round is changing that. We think everyone should have a fair shot at accessing the money from 'sharks' or venture capital investors!
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Alifya: Like many, I am a first-generation student. This means my parents didn't go to school in the United States! I was also raised by a single mom and am a woman, which unfortunately means it's harder for me to find the initial money I need from investors. I want to help motivated people from everywhere access the initial capital they need to build the business of their dreams so they can change the world!
Spiffy: That’s wonderful! How is Closed Round working towards a more equitable world?
Alifya: Well, if more people who look like me had the same access to money to start world-changing businesses, how much better would the world be? What if everyone was given the same opportunity to just get started?
Spiffy: What if, indeed! Jumping off of that, tell me about a recent company milestone and the impact you think it’ll make.
Alifya: We are working with an amazing organization called Visible Hands that is helping underrepresented founders in tech get started. They will use Closed Round's platform to connect founders who went through their program with investors!
Spiffy: Wow, congratulations! Before we sign off for today, can you share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up? What did you learn from it?
Alifya: Once, I decided to work with a teammate who turned out to be quite mean. It was hard to bounce back from that because I needed his help. I realized it was better to work with someone who was respectful, kind, and smart versus someone who was just smart. Today, I’ve found better teammates who are so excited about the future of Closed Round!
Spiffy: I’m glad to hear that, Alifya! I wish you and Closed Round all the best in your future endeavors. Thank you so much for talking to me today, it’s been an honor!
Alifya Valiji is building Closed Round to bring access and transparency to the world of early-stage fundraising. She is a first-generation female of color who grew up in Des Plaines, Illinois, and after a small stint in New York City, has moved back to her hometown. (Nominated by Visible Hands. First published on the Ladderworks website on November 24, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.