Supporting Diversity at White House Demo Day in D.C.

Originally published via CrunchBase 8/6/2015

This week, I visited Washington D.C. to support diversity in the entrepreneurial community.

We recognize the importance of diversity in the startup ecosystem. In March, CrunchBase began a comprehensive study of women startup founders by expanding our dataset to include gender for the periods of 2009–2014. Our first two reports on female founders led to a collaboration between CrunchBase and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) spearheaded by Kate Mitchell, Partner & Co-founder at Scale Venture Partners who recently published Diversity in Venture Capital — A National Conversation.

In Washington D.C., we met with the NVCA to discuss initiatives that foster greater opportunity for women and underrepresented minorities in the startup ecosystem. In collaboration with NVCA and Dow Jones, the 2015 Venture Census survey is the first step in our partnership to help measure diversity.

With Kate Mitchell, Scale VP & Jessica Straus, NVCA

We also had the honor of attending the first-ever White House Demo Day, hosted by President Barack Obama. There were over 40 entrepreneurs invited from across the U.S. to hold exhibits at the White House, where they joined President Obama to pitch their ideas — including an exhibit from TechCrunch Disrupt finalist PartPic.

President Obama at White House Demo Day 2015

The White House State Floor was transformed into an exhibition space where entrepreneurs demonstrated their products to guests and members of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Attendees included Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, leaders in business, philanthropy and nonprofit sector — including:

  • Kate Mitchell, Partner & Co-founder at Scale Venture Partners
  • Megan Smith, CTO, White House Office of Science & Technology Policy
  • Steve Case, Chairman and CEO, Revolution
  • Daymond John, Founder, President and CEO, FUBU
  • Kay Koplovitz, Founder, USA Network
  • Bobby Franklin, President and CEO, National Venture Capital Association
  • Evan Sharp, Co-Founder, Pinterest

President Obama’s speech focused on the importance of entrepreneurship in the U.S., referencing women and underrepresented minorities.

“Right now, one study shows that fewer than 3 percent of venture capital-backed companies have a woman as their CEO…and fewer than 1 percent have an African American founder. Yet we’ve seen again and again that companies with diverse leadership often outperform those that don’t.”

A growing number of companies like Pinterest and Intel have recognized this and are taking a larger initiative, including over 40 leading venture capital firms who have pledged to do more to track and hire women, underrepresented minorities and veterans, Obama cited.

We’ve got to make sure that everybody is getting a fair shot — the next Steve Jobs might be named Stephanie or Esteban,” he said.

The event was not limited to just those attending the White House — entrepreneurs, universities, and more were encouraged to host their own Demo Day events and tune-in to a live stream.