EonXi – https://www.eonxi.com .EonXi is a venture capital fund and startup studio focused on the web 3.0 ecosystem.
CDM: What were your motivations for founding EonXi?
Sherrard Harrington (Co-Founder and Principal, EonXI): We wanted to create an entity that acts as the connective tissue to bridge the gap that exists between athletes & influencers and emerging markets that we see growing right now, such as blockchain & crypto. Right now, we’re witnessing lots of athletes, influencers, and people who fit that profile, those who didn’t necessarily have the resources or understanding of how to get access to the technology & private equity sectors.
Aaron Wilson (Co-Founder and Principal, EonXI): Our goal is to lower the barriers to entry in these spaces for individuals who were typically kept out of these opportunities. Historically speaking, celebrities, entertainers, and athletes were not always afforded access to competitive deal flow within the technology landscape, specifically within emerging tech. We wanted to make a concerted effort to bridge the opportunity gap and present those opportunities to our pre-existing networks. A combination of strong relationships, a proven track record and subject matter expertise carved out a path for us to make an impact for the underrepresented minority — That’s how EonXI came to fruition.
A lot of people ask us, ‘where do we get the name? It’s so unique.’ “Eon” represents a billion ideas. “X” represents the problem that we’re solving. And “I” represents innovation and inclusiveness via interoperability; interoperability being the underlying technical philosophy behind Web 3.0, which is our primary focus area for both our venture fund and our incubation lab as well.
David Amerson (Co-Founder and Principal, EonXI): I can honestly say, I’m a living testament to what these guys are speaking about right now. I played seven years in the NFL and I’ve known Sherrard since high school. He is practicing today what he has always been preaching. I’ve gotten involved in this space via EonXi, became a venture partner, and I’m personally excited to see a lot of deals happening with this team beside me. He and Aaron have helped me become a day to day team member and get fully involved in the venture capital space.
CDM: eSports is a near Olympic sport at this juncture, but it is still a sport that isn’t accessible by all. How does EonXi look to usher in greater D.E.I. In the industry of eSports?
Aaron Wilson: We actually have partnered with one of our portfolio companies, StateSpace on this front.
StateSpace is a neuroscience data company operating specifically within the realm of eSports and gaming to assist with enhancing performance for individuals who are competitive gamers. We forged a partnership with them in order to build an eSports league. The primary focus that we have for the eSports League is to introduce emerging technology in inner-city communities. One of the biggest disparities that we see, and one of the biggest issues in closing that racial wealth gap, is access to technology. It’s not always access to capital. And one of our goals here is to bridge that gap by introducing eSports and also the underlying STEAM-oriented disciplines that are derived from eSports.
We are introducing animation skill-sets and computer science skill-sets so that we can bring forward the next generation individuals who could get involved in the eSports sector, not just as gamers, but also being able to see defined career paths for themselves beyond physically just playing the game, such as in engineering and animation.
Sherrard Harrington: We are actually living proof of the importance of eSports & emerging technology. We grew up on video games and we also grew up during a time when our parents thought video games were a bad thing for us. That’s still the connotation in inner-city communities. We want to make our work more of an educational offering for parents, so that they can have the comfort of knowing that this is a tool that is helping to accelerate their child’s learning.
CDM: Tell me about the future for EonXi. How does your venture capital organization operate?
Aaron Wilson: The grand vision for EonXi on a macro level is to create opportunities for tenacious individuals who vary in ethnicity and come from all walks of life. There are an array of ways to do this — one way in particular, is through our incubation lab. We are creating an ecosystem of diverse developers, so that they have access to the resources to build the next generation of disruptive concepts within the technology space. That’s one thing that we’re extremely passionate about and our operations are already underway.
One of the key things that we’re also adamant about is redefining what ‘Diversity’ really means. A lot of people relegate diversity to simply meaning individuals who are people of color, minorities, Black, LatinX, Asian, etc. However, we see true diversity as a gateway for anyone who is getting involved in a competitive industry where people of their likeness lack representation. Furthermore, embracing true diversity assists us with shaping a more progressive narrative that will impact the world on a social level and remove the divisive nature of labels. This will consequently affect how we work together as people. We want to build a robust ecosystem of diverse developers from all backgrounds, not just individuals who are people of color and that’s something we’re extremely bullish on. Narrowing the resource gap for all will lend itself to bridging both social & socioeconomic gaps as a society.
On the incubation side, that’s specifically what the vision looks like for us, in building that diverse developer ecosystem, one that will create wonderful products out of our proprietary engine.
Sherrard Harrington: Alongside our incubation lab, we also have our venture fund entity. We want to invest in the next, I’ll say 1,000 to 5,000 entrepreneurs around the whole diversity landscape to work on their amazing ideas, to foster their talent and allow them to see their amazing ideas come to fruition. The venture capital component allows for that kind of access; it’s a way for us to get in early on a lot of these opportunities and get in early with a lot of these would-be founders. There is a mentorship component that is missing at the moment and we want to drive entrepreneurial growth & development of these individuals as operators of the future and connect them to resources.
The venture capital arm is more of an external community asset, where we build networks. Hyper-growth companies are coming to us with opportunities & ideas, so we just have to be smart venture capitalists and invest in the best ones.
CDM: Where do you look to expand in the future? Where do you see EonXI in five years?
Sherrard Harrington: Specifically with the communities that we mentioned — influencers, athletes, celebrities, even this new tech community. That’s where we are looking to expand. A lot of these individuals are going to be heavily involved in venture deals. We’re already seeing this with influencers. Once David received his NFL contract, I believe in 2014, he immediately started investing into these types of opportunities. The problem is that there are a lot of sharks who target influencers & athletes, with anything but pure intentions. Often, these sharks don’t come from the same background and they really don’t know how to connect with them or how to understand and tell their story.
I would say that’s a component of our competitive advantage.
A lot of these influencers and athletes, they look at us as the resource to help them become better educated in venture capital, technology and the private equity landscape as a whole. Furthermore, we have roots in and come from the same communities as some of these key influencers so there is a certain organic connection that cannot be established with someone who may not have the same kind of life experience.
In the next five years, we’re definitely going to have a fund of fund vehicle where we’re investing in influencers, empowering them to be venture capitalists. They’ve already acted as angel investors with their own capital, but now let’s start channeling them into investments outside of their careers, as the next step in their journey to becoming moguls.
As I mentioned about us investing in over the next thousand entrepreneurs in this space, we’re going to be strategically positioned as lead investors in a lot of these deals and taking board seats.
Aaron Wilson: We have this notion, this theory if you will, about trickle down capital. Now, what that means is there’s a major disparity with regard to how capital is allocated toward diverse fund managers. This consequently would impact how capital is being allocated toward founders of rapidly growing organizations and also their staff and the workforce. Our goal is to ensure that there’s more equal and equitable allocation of capital from the top down — from the LPs to the GPs, to the founders, to the employees.
Over the course of the next five years, we want to be able to empower the masses and create opportunities for our society at scale. The fastest way to accomplish this grand goal that we have is by providing access to capital, which lends itself to access to resources. The aforementioned are all a part of a playing field leveling mechanism that is not being placed on the forefront by a lot of our peers.
That’s going to start first with more representation at the LP level. So, we would love to have conversations over the course of the next, even 6 to 12 months, with any investors who are adamant about making a concerted effort toward finding new ways to address societal problems that are specific to a demographic of people or specific to underrepresented people within the private equity and technology landscape, because that’s going to be the way that we truly make an impact quickly. We want to impact people across the board, not just the marginalized group and not just the majority.
There are culturally-specific nuances associated with culturally-specific problem solving. New products & solutions cannot be developed if diverse innovators and operators are not given access to resources so that they may come up with creative solutions to remedy issues that plague their respective communities.