Demo Day seeks to change the face of the tech entrepreneur for a more inclusive and diverse future
Washington, D.C. – Entrepreneurship and, specifically, high growth entrepreneurship in the technology sector and beyond, has seen tremendous growth in the last decade. A percentage of this growth has come from women-owned businesses – highlighting the economic potential of women-led firms. While growth has been unprecedented, women continue to lack access to the crucial assets they need to launch and scale their businesses. Research suggests that part of the imbalance in the number of woman founders that head high growth firms is access to capital, in particular, venture capital and angel investment. Additionally, only 4% of VC managers are women.
On Tuesday, the White House hosted its first ever Demo Day with a focus on inclusive entrepreneurship in an effort to close the investment gap and provide more Americans the opportunity and access they need to pursue their business dreams. In a release on Tuesday, the White House said: “To maintain our lead as the best place on the planet to start and scale a great company, we must ensure that vibrant startup ecosystems emerge in every corner of America, and that all Americans, including those underrepresented in entrepreneurship like women and people of color, are both encouraged and able to fully contribute their entrepreneurial talents.”
The President announced many new public and private-sector commitments. Some highlights, specific to women, are noted below:
- Google will be hosting its first ever Demo Day for women entrepreneurs.
- The CEO of KIND Healthy snacks is earmarking $3Million to invest in women entrepreneurs, along with providing strategic support and guidance.
- The Small Business Administration will expand InnovateHER, a regional competition to identify innovations that support women.
- Additionally, over a dozen major technology companies announced new actions to ensure diverse recruitment and hiring, including Amazon, Box, Microsoft, Xerox, and others committed to adopt a variation of the “Rooney Rule.” The “Rooney Rule” is a football reference referring a requirement in the NFL to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations jobs.
- Over 40 leading venture capital firms, valued at over $100 billion under management, including Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, and Scale Venture Partners, made commitments to advance opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
- One hundred and sixteen winners of two Small Business Administration prizes were announced, that promise to unleash entrepreneurship in communities across the country: the Growth Accelerator Fund for startup accelerators, incubators, and other entrepreneurial ecosystems (26 of the 100 finalists are run by women).
- IBM committed to inverst in women in technology by working with Girls Who Code to prepare the next generation of women software developers to cloud computing innovation.
- Council Member Astia committed to increasing equity fundraising opportunities to women-led companies.
Additionally, the White House Demo Day featured over 30 startup teams – 14 of which had women in the founding team. The President met with some of the entrepreneurs that ranged from early stage/ideation to consumer products.
In his remarks, the President said, “[W]e’ve got to make sure that we’re taking full advantage of this moment by tapping all the talent America has to offer, no matter who they are or where they set up shop. And obviously there are chronic challenges for any entrepreneur. Capital is tough to come by, but it’s even tougher if you’re not in one of a handful of cities that have a well-developed venture capital presence,” and continued, “We’ve got to make sure that everybody is getting a fair shot -– the next Steve Jobs might be named Stephanie or Esteban. They might never set foot in Silicon Valley. We’ve got to unleash the full potential of every American –- not leave more than half the team on the bench.”
“We are so thrilled to see the White House and President Obama’s commitment to women entrepreneurs. The Council’s mission is to support women entrepreneurs with great ideas, and their businesses that are starting, growing, and scaling. We know this – when you invest in women, you see returns. We hope to see more White House Demo Days in the future and are excited to see policy that sustains this momentum, as we know these companies will continue to create more jobs and sustain the economy,” said Amanda Brown, Executive Director of the National Women’s Business Council.