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Hakeem Temidayo Seriki, aka Chamillionaire, may be known for his success in the music industry, but did you know the “Ridin’ Dirty” artist has investments in 60 different companies? At AfroTech 2022, the hip-hop entrepreneur turned serial investor explained how he went from buying expensive jewelry obsessively to making deals with startups in the tech industry — a rational decision that would grow his money beyond the music industry. 

The Grammy Award-winning artist packed the ballroom to the standing room only and dropped gems for every AfroTech attendee to take home about the investment industry. He’s not your typical rapper and is changing the game on how music artists are spending their royalties. 

How Chamillionaire Became a Serial Investor

“While I was in the music business, I saw all these companies capitalizing on the industry – remember Napster.” Chamillionaire (Cham) suggested to record executives that investing in technology was the future of the music industry, but his suggestions were met with skepticism. 

During the early 2000s, the overly confident music corporations lost billions as a result of piracy. 

“So, I was like. Wait a second. I don’t understand how these people are building companies that are killing our industry, and we don’t care.” Curious and without movement from the labels, Chamillionaire started attending tech conferences. Notably, streaming services – for example, Apple, Spotify, tech giants – have long been credited with killing music piracy.  

Having discovered the world of investment at his first conference, Cham still attends tech events today. 

His early investment in Maker’s Studio would prove fruitful years later. Walt Disney Company agreed to purchase Maker Studios, Inc. for $675 million. Cham’s investment in the startup was $1.5 million. His return on investment (ROI) was reported to have exceeded $20 million.

Lifting All Boats in the Black Startup Ecosystem 

If there’s one thing Chamillionaire understands about the Venture Capital Space, it’s the need to invest in more Black startups. 

According to the McKinsey Institute, less than 2 percent of the 400 US unicorn startups had Black founders in the last 10 years despite Black Americans representing 13% of the population. For context, a unicorn is a company with a valuation of over $1 billion in the startup world. 

For Cham, busting the stigma that Black founders can’t become unicorns is the goal.

“There are a lot of people out there that are good capitalists. Billions and billions of dollars go to a lot of people [Startups] and less than 2% of that goes to us [Black founders],” Chamillionaire said before stressing the fact further. “Less than 2% of the total capital, venture capital goes to us [Black founders].”

Cham’s theory is that 98% of venture capitalists not investing in Black founders because they don’t see the value in investing in Black startups; another word for this is systemic racism.

“That has to change,” Cham stressed.

While on the AfroTech panel hosted by Silicon Valley Bank, Chamillionaire shared that he wasn’t waiting on the 98% of venture capital firms to invest in Black founders. But he did offer a solution that he’s now relentlessly pursuing — recruiting other Black millionaires and music artists to invest in Black start-ups through his private invite-only investment company called Access 12, which according to Chamillionaire includes celebrities Megan Thee Stallion and Kelly Rowland among other celebs. Their latest investment was into Parfait, a Black women owned company. Serena William’s venture was another partner in the Parfait investment.

To learn more about AfroTech and its conferences, visit here.

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