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This Entrepreneur Just Became One of the Few Black Women in the U.S. to Raise More Than $1 Million From VCs. First She Had to Turn Down $500,000

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Imagine this: You've been fundraising fruitlessly for almost a year, and suddenly you win $500,000 in a startup competition. What do you do?

If you're Muhga Eltigani, you turn it down.

Eltigani is the 28-year-old founder and CEO of NaturAll Club, a Philadelphia-based subscription service for natural hair-care products. The prize, which she won last November, came courtesy of 43North, a Buffalo, New York-based organization trying to attract promising entrepreneurs to that city. Acceptance of the money was conditioned on a move north.

But Philadelphia is where Eltigani launched her company, in 2015. And it is in Philly where she wants to stay. "My customers were not in Buffalo, and that was tugging on me," she says. "But I felt backed into a corner."

"That's when I met Rich."

Rich is Richelieu Dennis, the Liberian-born entrepreneur who in 2017 sold his company, Sundial Brands, to Unilever for a reported $1.6 billion. While agonizing over Buffalo, Eltigani got an email from the New Voices Fund, Dennis's $100 million fund targeting entrepreneurial women of color. Within a few weeks of their first meeting in New York, Eltigani and Dennis closed on a $1 million investment. In April, Eltigani returned from a winter spent at YCombinator with grander visions for R&D, technology, and customer involvement with the product. Dennis put in another $4 million.

With that investment, Eltigani--one of Inc.'s 30 Under 30 winners from 2018--joined the dismayingly sparse ranks of black women entrepreneurs who have raised more than $1 million in venture funding. (The........

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