On car rides from board meetings at the offices of produce delivery startup Imperfect Foods back to San Francisco, venture capitalist Nikhil Basu Trivedi and former Stitch Fix executive Mike Smith talked about ways to work together.

It took a few years, but now the duo have teamed up. The result: new VC firm Footwork, a $175 million early-stage fund and one of the few led by two investors of color.

An equal partnership, Footwork plans to invest between $1.5 million and $8 million initial checks to lead or co-lead seed and Series A deals, the partners say, with a focus on consumer companies and “consumerized” enterprise software ones. News of the fund was first reported in December by Axios.

A member of the Forbes Under 30 list in 2015, Basu Trivedi, made partner at Shasta Ventures in 2018 before officially leaving the firm last year. Companies Basu Trivedi worked with over the years include $15 billion-valuation design software maker Canva, debt manager Tally, fitness startup Tonal and people management software maker Lattice, which raised at a $1 billion valuation in March. More recently, Basu Trivedi made waves in the venture ecosystem through his Substack, where he blogged about everything from the rise of “solo capitalists” to food delivery and mental health. (And, naturally, about his new firm, too.)

Smith served as president, COO and interim CFO over the years at Stitch Fix, the subscription clothes company that went public in 2017. A former consultant who moved to California for business school and spent nine years at Walmart in its online division, Smith worked closely with outgoing Stitch Fix founder and CEO Katrina Lake as one of the company’s first five employees.

The duo say that their combination of investing success and operational expertise resonated with limited partners. Several as-yet unnameable university endowments and longtime VC-backing foundations are investors in the debut fund, Basu Trivedi says.

“It’s very rare you have someone like Nikhil, that is early in his venture career and has amazing returns, and someone like me, that sat in a C-level seat at an under ten-person company and helped scale it to a public company,” says Smith.

Basu Trivedi and Smith started their mutual courtship last summer after Basu Trivedi shared a questionnaire for potential partners, covering everything from board seat management to deal attribution and generational transition, with Smith, who shared similar answers. Their next step was to test out investing together, backing half a dozen companies as angel investors, including savings app AtoIRA, customer service software company DigitalBrain and plant-based “chicken” maker Daring.

Back in November, Smith told Recode he planned to use a move into VC to help support a new generation of under-represented founders. Raising money at Stitch Fix, Lake endured abhorrent behavior that included sexual harassment from an investor and a lack of initial support from that investor’s firm at the time, becoming a symbol of the Me Too movement and the need for sweeping changes across the industry. “I didn’t love the ecosystem, what I saw,” Smith says of that period. “I got to see how hard it is.”

Smith, who is Black, and Basu Trivedi, who grew up in England and California with parents of Indian descent, say they plan to make investing in such entrepreneurs a priority, without putting in place a formal quota. “We have a lot of motivation to show that instead of the academic chatter about diversity driving better results, we can show it,” says Smith. “We’re going through a really special moment in the industry right now where it feels like things are starting to change.”

Footwork’s founders also plan to add more equal partners over time, eventually assembling a group of up to six. (What would look a lot, at least superficially, like a next-generation Benchmark.)

On that key answer on their partner questionnaire, Basu Trivedi and Smith were fully aligned. “It’s my last for-profit job,” says Smith. “We want this to live on beyond the two of us,” Basu Trivedi adds.

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