When the tech industry talks about tech startups and entrepreneurs, too often the narrative revolves around Bay Area companies such as Instagram, Uber and Twitter. As technology continues to democratize opportunities and innovation, however, many successful tech entrepreneurs are now emerging outside Silicon Valley or the Bay Area. Entrepreneurs are building startups in cities such as Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta and Austin. Each of these cities has an emerging entrepreneurship ecosystem of tech hubs, accelerators, and founders. But all too often, alternative narratives are overlooked in favor of Silicon Valley giants.
Regardless of which location founders call home, there is also a specific type of entrepreneur that dominates storytelling around entrepreneurship: a young, straight, white, male. While 35% of founders are women — and venture-backed women founders earn 12% higher revenues and ethnically-diverse teams outperform other teams by 35% — just 2.7% of venture-backed companies are woman-led. Less than 2% VC-backed founders are Black or Latino. Still we see women, Black, Latinx, LGBTQ, Veterans, those with disabilities and other underrepresented entrepreneurs beating the odds and launching innovative startups across America. These entrepreneurs may not be household names or featured in major tech publications, but they’re the hidden gems thriving in newly flourishing tech communities.
At Change Catalyst, we are working to change this through our 2017 Tech Inclusion Tour. Throughout 2017, Change Catalyst is traveling to 14 cities across America hosting Tech Inclusion conferences and forums, career fairs and startup showcases. As we visit each city, we’re interviewing underrepresented entrepreneurs, sharing their stories via our social media, Medium ( blog.techinclusion.co), and YouTube channels ( youtube.com/changecatalyst). We’re asking entrepreneurs questions such as “What has been the hardest part of their journey?”, “What solutions would you like to see to create a more inclusive tech ecosystem?” and “What makes your city the best location for your startup?”.
Throughout the Tech Inclusion Tour, you will have the opportunity to hear from founders such as Austin, TX based Vi Nguyen.
Vi learned how Austin locals and visitors wanted a different short-term rental experience versus the Airbnb model which lead to co-founding Homads, a marketplace for month to month rentals.
Also you’ll hear from ecosystems leaders such Preston L. James II, a former Dell executive, Co-founder of Div Inc. Div Inc is a pre-accelerator for underrepresented startup founders, fostering the growth and development of ethnically diverse and women-led tech companies in Austin, Tx.
We kicked off the Tech Inclusion Tour in Austin, TX in March. Upcoming cities include:
- Atlanta, GA, August 10th
- Chicago, IL, September 12th
- Detroit, MI, May 11th
- London, England, December 14th
- Miami, FL, December 11th
- Minneapolis, MN, September 14th
- Nashville, TN, August 16th
- New York City, NY, July 10–11th
- Durham, NC, September 21st
- San Francisco, CA, October 24–26–27th
- San Juan, Puerto Rico, December 7th
- Seattle, WA, June 14–15th
- Sydney, Australia, November 30th
As entrepreneurship grows and diversifies in tech hubs outside of Silicon Valley, local economies flourish. By the end of the Tech Inclusion Tour our goal is for everyone to know that neither the stories nor the people are homogeneous, and underrepresented entrepreneurs can thrive in any city!
The Hidden Entrepreneurs Across America: Founder Stories By Change Catalyst