Stephane Nasser: Helping Emerging Entrepreneurs Finance Their Journeys
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Stephane Nasser, the co-founder of OpenVC. Let’s see what he is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Stephane! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your organization?
Stephane: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! At OpenVC, we help entrepreneurs access investors. Entrepreneurs innovate and take risks to improve the world we live in. However, finding investors to finance the beginning of their journey is still incredibly difficult. At OpenVC, we provide free tools and connections that allow any entrepreneur to connect with potential investors worldwide.
Spiffy: What motivated you to tackle this challenge?
Stephane: What I find most exciting about OpenVC is the scale of the impact we make. We help thousands of entrepreneurs every year, which in time turns into 10,000 or 100,000s of people positively impacted. We are a small lever that helps unlock a lot of positive impact for the ecosystem and society at large, and that's really cool!
Spiffy: Awesome! How would you say your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Stephane: One of the big challenges today is the geography of funding. Silicon Valley is flush with capital to fund yet another cat photo app, while Africa and Latin America have to build critical infrastructure with far less funding. At OpenVC, we make it super easy for US or EU investors to connect with entrepreneurs from emerging markets and potentially invest. This is called cross-border investing, and it's a critical driver of growth for those areas.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make on your community?
Stephane: Until recently, OpenVC was only open to VC firms—that is, only to big, professional investment firms. In November 2022, we released a new version that also allows angel investors to join OpenVC. Angel investors are individuals who invest less money but at a very early stage. They take the most risk and fuel the most ambitious projects even at the idea stage. This will allow even more projects to find funding on OpenVC in 2023!
Spiffy: Tell me about an inspiring startup that your organization has helped to advance its impact.
Stephane: In 2022, we helped nearly 5,000 startups connect with investors. One of my favorite stories is this duo of female founders based out in Pakistan. They built a marketplace for marriage vendors (of flowers, music, catering, etc.). Marriage is a large and fast-growing industry in Pakistan. The team got their platform up and running with significant usage and transactions, building all of it themselves. They just needed some guidance and connections to raise funding. OpenVC provided just that!
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Stephane—it’s been an honor!
Stephane Nasser is a self-described functional nerd and is co-founder of OpenVC. He is passionate about tech entrepreneurship and venture capital. Currently, he is nomading somewhere in China. (First published on the Ladderworks website on February 16, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.