Valence, a tech platform and professional network launched last year that connects Black founders, announced its inaugural funding network Thursday. The list includes investors at top firms including Sequoia Capital, Accel and Upfront Ventures.

"For years, Black entrepreneurs have been told that Silicon Valley is a meritocracy, but at the same time most haven't had access to the top networks, the warm introductions, and the mentorship that underpin lasting success in tech. Valence is upending this completely by bringing the top VCs to compete for the best Black entrepreneurs." said Valence co-founder and general partner at Upfront Ventures, Kobie Fuller. "We want to even the playing field with the goal of exponentially growing the number of Black-owned startups that get funded."

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Editor's note: This is the second in our series examining diversity in venture capital. Read the first and third stories in this series and sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates.

Entrepreneurs usually fall over each other for the chance to meet with people like Kobie Fuller, a partner at Upfront Ventures, one of Los Angeles' oldest and most prestigious venture firms, and a former investor at Accel, one of Silicon Valley's most well-known early-stage firms.

But Fuller, who is black, had become used to being overlooked at parties and mistaken for junior-level staff.

"I have been at network events where people don't know who I am, they assumed I was a random moron," he said. "They treat you like you are not in the room or you are some wait staff."

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As a veteran of the Marine Corps who served as an infantry officer in Iraq and Afghanistan in the years after 9/11, Dan Burton saw drone technology, quite literally, take off.

Drones went from needing 55 people to fly, to as few as three pilots, to just one. Meanwhile, soldiers on the ground were thrilled to have a decentralized way to get dedicated eyes from above on missions.

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