SAN FRANCISCO – In the early days of Zume Pizza, visitors to Julia Collins’ robotic food prep company in Silicon Valley would greet her at the door and say, “Can you grab me a water? I’m here to meet with the founder.” When pitching her business to investment partners at venture capital firms, Collins was nearly always the only woman and always the only black person in the room.
Then, late last year, a hairline crack surfaced in the invisible yet seemingly impenetrable barrier that limits black women’s access to the tech world. A $375 million investment gave Zume Pizza a valuation of $2.25 billion.
It wasn’t just the company she co-founded that reached unicorn status. Collins did, too, as the first black woman whose tech company is valued at $1 billion or more by investors. Now that she’s working on a new startup in regenerative agriculture, investors are calling