American ingenuity has always been one of our nation’s greatest resources and key drivers of economic growth. Remarkable homegrown innovations have improved our quality of life, broadened our vision of the world, and helped us realize our full potential. That legacy has been driven by incredible innovators — inventors and entrepreneurs from all walks of life, who have turned once-unthinkable ideas into indispensable products and services.
We’ll be celebrating these innovators at the first-ever White House Demo Day focused on inclusive entrepreneurship, a showcase of America’s entrepreneurial potential hosted by the President here at the White House on August 4. Unlike a private-sector Demo Day, where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to funders, innovators from around the country will join President Obama to “demo” their individual success stories and show why we need to give every American the opportunity to pursue their bold, game-changing ideas.
The foundation of the American dream is a promise — that no matter who you are or where you come from, if you’re willing to work hard, you’ll have the chance to share in the country’s success. That promise makes America exceptional — and it’s why so many inventors and founders have successfully developed world-changing ideas on American soil.
Big ideas can come from anywhere, from a small town on a reservation to a one-room apartment in a big city. But even the most innovative idea will fail if it doesn’t have the right environment to grow. Right now, too many Americans have the grit and creativity of world-class entrepreneurs, but not the resources — whether that’s mentorship, networking, funding, or training — to make their ideas a reality.
Metrics that track participation in the American innovation economy show low participation rates for females and under-represented minorities in the technology sector and the entrepreneurial community. Just three percent of America’s venture-capital-backed startups are led by women — a figure that drops to around one percent for African American and Hispanic entrepreneurs. Only about four percent of U.S.-based venture capital firms have any female investing partners at all. And capital is predominantly available in just a few places, making high-growth business creation a challenge outside of a handful of coastal metro hubs.
We can help change the landscape to be more inclusive and diverse.
President Obama has made it a priority to bridge the gap and grow American entrepreneurship — including in communities underrepresented in the innovation economy. Through Startup in a Day, we’re working with cities and states to simplify the process of getting a new venture off the ground, developing online tools that help entrepreneurs discover and apply — in less than a day — for local, state, and Federal permissions needed to start a business. Through TechHire, we’re engaging with local governments and the private sector to help Americans get the skills they need for a technology-driven workplace. Thanks to the I Corps program, more university researchers and students are learning to commercialize their breakthrough inventions. And with Startup America, we launched a $1 billion impact investment initiative, connected clean energy startups with experienced mentors, supported legislation that is making it easier for startups to raise capital, and much, much more.
White House Demo Day will celebrate the great things that can happen when we support entrepreneurs across the country. We hope you’ll join us and help encourage new innovators, mentors, founders and funders to keep charging and get their ideas off the ground.
Here’s how you can get involved — before and after August 4:
- Tune in: Anyone with an interest in entrepreneurship can watch White House Demo Day live from start to finish at WH.gov/demo-day.
- Host your own Demo Day event: To broaden the conversation about entrepreneurship in your own community, we encourage you to TELL US HERE if you’re interested in hosting a watch party, workshop, or panels on inclusive entrepreneurship. We’ll be posting more information here later about a watch party toolkit — be on the lookout for additional information.
- Join us on Twitter: We’ll be using the hashtag #WHDemoDay to share everything that’s happening at the White House the entire day. We’ll also be encouraging the entrepreneurs at the White House to engage with those tuning in across the country and will have more information about them soon on WH.gov/demo-day. We hope you’ll join the conversation around helping American entrepreneurs of all stripes succeed.
- Stay tuned: We look forward to announcing progress on the President’s call to action on White House Demo Day and we hope you’ll share your stories of entrepreneurship with us at #WHDemoDay now, through August 4th, and beyond!
Thomas Kalil is Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Terah Lyons is a Confidential Assistant in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.