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Ridin’ to success: Rapper Chamillionaire is investing in startups founded by women and people of color

Chamillionaire took the music industry by storm with his hit song Ridin’, winning the 2006 Grammy award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. But as an entrepreneur, investing in tech innovation is just as important to him as making hit music.

As an angel investor Chamillionaire has teamed up with fellow rapper E-40 and portfolio company Republic to invest $25,000 into a startup founded and managed by a woman or person of color.

“I’ve been in this tech industry for a while and I’ve been seeing a lot of people out here trying to raise capital and a lot of time it just doesn’t go to people of color or women,” Chamillionaire told Yahoo Finance’s On The Move, adding that there’s a “lack of options for people of color.”

He took to Instagram last week to make the announcement, noting that he and a judge from Republic would go through the entries and respond to submissions. Those interested in entering the contest must download the Convoz app and follow the stated rules. A winner will be chosen on June 21. Chamillionaire held a similar contest in February for Black History Month, offering $10,000 to a startup with a black leader. He says these contests also aim to help minority and female-lead startups ease into venture capitalism.

Research from the Center for American Entrepreneurship found that 16% of the money invested into U.S. venture-backed startups went to companies with at least one female founder. Only 2.5% of the money went to startups founded by all women. For startups founded by people of color, less than 23% were venture-backed.

“Now that I’m here, I see that there is a certain type of founder that gets, you know, funding from these companies,” said Chamillionaire. “And I understand that people tend to spend money on things that they’re comfortable with.”

“When you see a young African American that walks in that has a hat on backwards like me, then sometimes it’s a little tough to bet on founders for something like that for someone that just doesn’t have experience with people like that. So I think we have to create more diversity in the industry.”

Chamillionaire, a recording artist and chief executive officer of Chamillitary Entertainment, speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010. The conference runs until Sept. 29. Photographer: Noah Berger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chamillionaire, who is an early investor in ride-hailing app Lyft (LYFT), said getting to know the founder is an important consideration when he decides which companies to invest in.

“There are a lot of people that have great ideas that want to create disruptive companies that change the world but everybody doesn’t have the skills to be able to do that.” said Chamillionaire. “So, ultimately when I’m looking at somebody, I’m looking them in the eyes and asking them questions and I have to believe that they’re able to take this company from A to Z.”

Marabia Smith is a producer for Yahoo Finance On the Move.

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