Marlon’s professional career spans higher education, foundations, Fortune 500s, and startups. The driving force behind all of his career choices has been a desire to create positive social impact. In 2018, Marlon was named CEO of Nex Cubed, an investor that creates and accelerates frontier tech companies with an emphasis on digital health and fintech. Nex Cubed empowers entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market, helps rising companies scale, and provides paths to liquidity – the power of three. To date, the Nex Cubed portfolio consists of nearly 80 startups with an aggregate value of $500M and over 50% of the startups are led by female and minority founders. Last year, Nex Cubed launched the first startup accelerator designed to inspire entrepreneurship at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In partnership with corporations such as AT&T, Franklin Templeton and Morgan Stanley, over 350 students from 50+ HBCUs participated in the program.
Prior to joining Nex Cubed, Marlon served as CEO of GSVlabs (renamed One Valley), a global innovation platform that accelerates startups and connects corporations to exponential technologies, business models and ideas. His career includes experience as a Director of Corporate Affairs at HP, where he led HP Company Foundation programs, including Matter to a Million, a company-wide employee engagement program in partnership with Kiva. He received his BA in Political Science and a MA in Sociology from Stanford University, where he competed on the football and track & field teams.
Where do you find investments?
At Nex Cubed, we source our investments from our network of hundreds of investors, entrepreneurs, corporate partners, government organizations and subject matter experts. We evaluate approximately 2,000 startups on an annual basis.
When/at what stage do you look to invest?
We invest at the pre-seed/seed stage, typically the first institutional money in, alongside angels and friends and family.
What types of investments do you make? What sectors or areas of interest?
We will invest via a convertible note, SAFE or priced round, receiving on average 6% equity in the company. We invest in companies leveraging frontier tech (AI/ML, Blockchain, AR/VR, computer vision, etc.) with a focus on Digital Health and FinTech.
Why are you focusing on women and diverse founders?
Over 50% of the startups in our portfolio are led by female or minority founders. We believe a focus on identifying diverse founders is not only good for the world on many levels, but good business, given the vast evidence showing that diverse teams outperform more homogeneous organizations.
How are you “changing the room”?
Last year we launched the first startup accelerator supporting all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). HBCUs are talent rich serving as the institution of origin among nearly 30% of black graduates of science and engineering doctorate programs. Investors often note the lack of deal flow as to why Black founders receive approximately 1% of the venture capital invested in the US. We believe the deal flow is there, and through our HBCU Founders Initiative, intend to shine a spotlight on the amazing students and alums at HBCUs. Given the scope of the opportunity, there are over 100 HBCUs in America, this year we launched a nonprofit and a 30M investment fund dedicated exclusively to supporting HBCU students and alums. Through these efforts, we hope to fill the top of the funnel with hundreds of startups led by Black founders, further dispelling the lack of deal flow myth.