The Fearless Fund in partnership with JP Morgan & Chase and Steve Madden hosted a workshop dedicated to small businesses at Clark Atlanta University (CAU) last Wednesday. 

Fearless Fund co-founder Arian Simone explained each day of the week had its purpose. The workshop was just a small part of the foundation’s Venture Capital Week. 

 “On Monday, it was kids. Tuesday was teens, and on Wednesday when we chose a Collegiate audience, it was only right to do CAU because we are an HBCU-led Venture Fund,” Simone said. 

During the workshop, a $10,000 giveaway took place to help a current student with their own business. As well as two $500 Steve Madden gift cards, courtesy of Steve Madden. Less than 24 hours before the workshop commenced, Simone announced a 5 Million Dollar Investment given to them by Ally Bank. 

Arian Simone told the Atlanta Voice, “All of the dollars we receive from institutions get deployed into Women of Color Businesses.”

Simone continued that the Fearless Fund is the first foundation started by women of color for women of color-owned businesses. Simone co-founded the Fearless Fund in 2010 along with Keisha Knight Pulliam and Ayana Parsons.

Leyonna Barba, Managing Director of Technology and Disruptive Commerce with Middle Market Banking at J.P. Morgan Chase spoke about how the fund will support black-owned businesses.

“Black businesses, in particular, have been left to the side,” Barba said. 

During the workshop, Simone hosted a fireside chat with Madden where they advised future business owners on how they could capitalize off of their ideas. 

“You can’t just wing it all the time,” Madden said to students when speaking on the failures he has had throughout his career. 

Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Steve Madden, Gregg Meyer introduced Madden by giving a history of the beginning of his career. “Steve Madden started his company with $1,100,” Meyer told the audience.

Students were in shock and curious about what kept Madden and Simone motivated to get things done when it came to their businesses. 

“I have a lot of grit, but at some point you need help,” Madden explained when reminiscing on the success of his brand. 

The Atlanta Voice had the opportunity to speak with Madden and discuss what made his relationship with Fearless Fund Founder Arian Simone so successful. 

“I used to identify with what she is doing, so she is kind of an amazing girl,” Madden said. He continued to say that he wanted to continue to work with her. Simone told the Voice that the Fearless Fund and Steve Madden have more projects in the works that haven’t been announced yet. 

“Some of the people are on a different set of trajectories, but we will do something. I know we were talking about Slutty Vegan,” Madden said excitedly.

Simone told the Voice that Steve Madden’s Diversity and Inclusion efforts have been “ginormous.” 

“They want to make sure their company is a place to work that is extremely diverse. They want to make sure they are serving their consumers,” Simone explained. 

Simone and Madden have partnered together with the Fearless Fund’s Education Program, which is a series of masterclasses tailored to women of color entrepreneurs. 

“This place is amazing and I guess we need more black universities like this. Where people can be comfortable and learn and not have to worry about that other stuff. I think it is great,” Madden said about his time at CAU.

The Fearless Fund has volunteer opportunities for women of all ages and even more opportunities for women of color that own businesses. 

Jasmine Carter, an alumna of Alabama State University is a volunteer with the Fearless Fund and an owner of Got Yo Back, LLC, a business centered around Hygiene and Food Drives for Black Women in need. 

“It is a smooth experience with the opportunities they have,” Carter said. 

To invest in the Fearless Fund and keep up with the new programs that will be announced soon, visit the Fearless Fund at

(Fearless Fund Co- Founder Arian Simone and Fashion Designer Steve Madden host Fireside Chat at CAU Photo Credit: Alexis Grace/ The Atlanta Voice)

Alexis Grace is a recent graduate of Clark Atlanta University and a current Graduate student at Agnes Scott College. During and after her time at CAU, she has worked and interned for several publications...