Co-Founder and President of LA Black Investors Club
Women Founders Network strives to increase diversity in the marketplace and improve business opportunities for women across the board.
This month we are proud to place the spotlight on one of our Advisory Board members, accomplished investment attorney Shanita Nicholas, Co-Founder and President of LA Black Investors Club. The LA Black Investor’s Club is on a mission to inform, exchange, and foster the development of entrepreneurial ventures through serving as a conduit to venture creation, capitalization, and capacity building for diverse communities.
Can you tell us a bit about your life and career journey?
S: I was born in Crailsheim, Germany and grew up in the typical "army brat" fashion, moving to several cities and attending four high schools before moving to New York City for college. I studied chemical engineering at Columbia University with an emphasis on immunology.
I shifted focus after graduating and started my professional career as an IT consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, where I helped create enterprise automation systems for government agencies. I returned to Columbia University to receive my JD/MBA with a focus on Private Equity and Entrepreneurship, and had the great opportunity to be part of the founding team of the Columbia Entrepreneurship Program.
I started my legal career as an attorney at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York City working in Derivatives and Mergers & Acquisitions for large private equity firms. I moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and started working as an associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where I focused on Mergers & Acquisitions with middle market private equity firms.
I shifted my legal focus to Startup and Venture Capital Law in 2017 at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles LLP, while building out my own entrepreneurial ventures. I co-founded both the LA Black Investors Club, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on connecting business resources to my communities in South LA and Inglewood, as well as Sip & Sonder, a coffee house and entrepreneurial hub in Downtown Inglewood, CA.
Do you consider yourself foremost an entrepreneur, mentor and/or investor?
S: I consider myself foremost an entrepreneur, which has served me to be a better mentor and investment adviser to my clients.
How and why did you get involved with WFN?
S: I initially became aware of WFN in my time at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles LLP. After attending several events and programs, it was clear to me that the organization was doing real work for women-led companies impacting the startup ecosystem across Los Angeles. I had the opportunity to join the board and extend the amazing resources of the organization to my own network of communities.
What do you love most about WFN and its overall message?
S: WFN holds space for women entrepreneurs to thrive. Through access to incredible women investors and purposeful programming, WFN provides tangible resources and a purposeful network of leaders.
What is the biggest career hurdle you’ve experienced so far?
S: The biggest hurdle in my career thus far has been progressing forward in my purpose even if others are unable to understand my vision. This has shown itself in knowing when to move on from opportunities and when to face the unknown.
What has been your most important career breakthrough or turning point?
S: The most important turning point in my career has been becoming an entrepreneur in my own right. Through this incredible experience, I am able to provide insights and compassion to the work I continue to perform in the startup ecosystem.
Do you think anyone can be an entrepreneur? Why/why not?
S: I do believe anyone can be an entrepreneur if given a fair chance to access necessary resources. There are obstacles that women, people of color and women of color face that have the potential to make it nearly impossible to move forward, and I am excited at the opportunities that WFN and other organizations like the LA Black Investors Club are providing to minimize the impact of these biases.
In your current role, what advice can you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?
S: In my current role, I would tell aspiring women entrepreneurs to think with the end in mind. This allows for clear manifestation and intention at the beginning of the journey.
If you could do anything, what would it be?
S: If I could do anything, I would travel the world writing about coffee and entrepreneurship in a new coffee shop each day!
Co-Founder and President of LA Black Investors Club
The Co-Founder and President of LA Black Investors Club, Shanita Nicholas most recently worked as an attorney at Stubbs, Alderton & Markiles, LLP, where she primarily focused on corporate transactions, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions matters and other general corporate and business matters.
Prior to joining the firm, Shanita worked at international law firms within mergers and acquisitions for middle market private equity clients and within derivatives and mergers and acquisitions for large private equity clients. Prior to her legal career, Shanita worked as an IT consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, where she acted as a liaison between government clients and technical specialists.
Shanita received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University and her JD and MBA from Columbia University Schools of Law and Business, where she served as Operations Editor of the Columbia Business and Law Review. She is admitted to practice law in the State of New York and the State of California.
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