The Underground Guide to NYC Tech: LGBTQ Founder Edition
Every founder deserves the community they want to help them thrive.
Building a startup is hard.
Having a community of peers that push us forward- that have our backs when we need it most- can make all the difference.
And we all deserve that community.
Throughout June, we reached out to members and supporters of the LGBTQ tech community in New York, and gathered research on where founders can build relationships, find resources, and garner support.
As we close out Pride Month, we share with our findings here. We hope that this serves as a resource for founders who are new to the tech industry- or New York City startup ecosystem- to build roots faster.
Below you will find NYC’s:
- Most active LGBTQ Tech communities.
- Organizations and institutions providing support to LGBTQ-led startups.
- The most helpful funds and fundraising platforms that are comprised of- or highly inclusive of- members of LGBTQ community.
- Investors, founders, and community leaders in NYC tech that are deeply supportive of the LGBTQ community.
- And a significant offer of support…
This list is not comprehensive, but rather a continuously updated document. There are people, communities, and organizations that we have not included, and we are grateful for additions we can include. We will update this guide with your contributions — let us know in the comments at the end.
A point of clarification: While some individuals mentioned here are members of the LGBTQ community, inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean such. A number of individuals listed are included simply because they are consistently strong supporters of LGBTQ founders.
The Most Active Communities
The best way to get connected in an ecosystem is to participate in its most active communities. Here are the top ones most frequently mentioned.
Out In Tech is a well-resourced community of 11,000 members in the U.S. across 4 cities, seeking to connect the LGBTQ community and tech. It hosts an annual conference in the fall with hundreds of attendees in New York and an all-star list of speakers, as well as regular events and get togethers in the city throughout the year.
StartOut is an entrepreneur-focused community with a prominent online presence, with 15,000 members across 6 cities. They have a private online community, an angel investor network, and membership directory, but one has to go through a pay-wall first to gain access. Members of the community at large spoke highly of their events, which they hold generally twice a month.
Lesbians Who Tech holds an annual conference in New York for over 2,000 attendees, and previous attendees speak highly of their speaker and workshop curation.
LGBTQ In Technology is a private Slack group for LGBTQ people in technology to chat and support each other. Safe, positive, confidential.
Gaingels Syndicate is an investment community for LGBTQ founders and executives, composed of 150+ members, largely focused in NYC and LA. Members include venture capitalists, exited entrepreneurs, angel investors from a dozen venture capital funds and over a dozen Fortune 500 companies. They have invested more than $6 million in 17 companies and seven VC funds.
For those students beginning their entrepreneurial journey:
- Out For Undergrad holds a tech conference in the fall.
- Reaching Out MBA puts on an annual conference, and occasional events in NYC.
Support Organizations That Can Scale Your Revenue
The right partnerships can make a difference for your traction.
The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has the kind of corporate partners you’d find going through a top-tier accelerator. You might be able to grow revenue significantly if you join their LGBTQ supplier program.
Startup52 is a diversity-focused acceleration program in New York, best suited for earlier stage startups that would benefit from its 12-week programming and mentoring.
Where To Look First To Fundraise
Some investors stand above the rest when it comes to engaging with founders early on and supporting their success.
Republic is an open investment platform for companies, with a focus on diverse founders, including members of the LGBTQ community. Companies can raise money from a wide-number of investors. Kendrick Nguyen and Chuck Pettid frequently put on events to meet new founders. They’ve just partnered with Sony Entertainment Television for a new show called Meet The Drapers, and millions of viewers can sponsor companies that appear on the show via their platform.
Want to pitch the show? Applications are due July 10th.
Arlan Hamilton founded Backstage Capital, which so far has invested over 2 million dollars in underrepresented founders, including LGBTQ founders and entrepreneurs in NYC. Her portfolio company founders speak highly of her hard work on behalf of entrepreneurs, answering phone calls 24 hours a day, and hustling to get them meetings and introductions.
Charlie O'Donnell is the sole Partner at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, which manages $23 Million across two funds. He goes out of his way to be available to founders — he’ll take cold calls, and accept meetings with founders at the earliest stages. Half of his portfolio companies have female, non-white, or LGBTQ founders to boot.
As we mentioned in the community section, Gaingels, headed by Managing Partners David beatty and Paul Grossinger, has an additional special investment vehicle set aside for 20 earlier stage companies that are looking for not only money, but expertise and support as well.
Our Growing List of NYC Stakeholders Who Support the LGBTQ Tech Community
One of the best ways to build relationships with investors, founders, and other stakeholders is to begin conversing with them on Twitter. To help you get started, here is a list of founders, investors, community leaders, and other NYC stakeholders who are thoughtful, engaging, and support the LGBTQ community, as well as all the names that we have mentioned above. We’ve also put them all into a Twitter list that you can find here:
- Arthur Woods (Imperative)
- Matt Tumbleson (Teckst)
- Nathan Richardson (TradeIt)
- James Felton Keith (Data, FinTech, InsurTech, AdTech)
- Husani Oakley (FinTech) @husanioakley
- Sean Torrington (AdTech)
- Terry Torrington (AdTech)
Investors and Community Leaders
- Kendrick Nguyen
- Chuck Pettid
- Backstage Capital
- Arlan Hamilton
- Brooklyn Bridge Ventures
- Charlie O’Donnell
- Paul Grossinger
- Steven Tristan Young (VP of Growth at GrubHub)
- Daniel Klaus (President of Airtime, Founder of K2 Media Labs)
- Elliot Tomaeno (Founder of Astrsk PR)
- Jessi Hempel (Wired Magazine)
- Reaching Out MBA
- Out For Undergrad
- Lesbians Who Tech
- National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Building Strong Entrepreneur Communities in New York City
We hope you found out about someone or something in New York City’s ecosystem from this guide. If you did, please share it with something you think will benefit from it. We build our community by supporting one another.
Speaking of which, we want to support your growth. If you think we can be helpful in any way, please feel free to reach out on Twitter (https://twitter.com/mikemaccombie) or at https://underground.community/
We enjoy making connections stronger in the community, and working with entrepreneurs to help them achieve the success they deserve.
Many thanks to Abi Pereira, Tazmun Nahar, Beverly George, Paul Grossinger, Victor Eng, Mal Harrison, Nathan Richardson, Prasant Sudhakaran, Jim Leahy, Tawana Rogers, Sasha Aurand, Ben Gellman, Nick Chen, Matthew Amsden, Nicole Shimer, Mike Smith, Matt Tumbleson, and Martin Hui for contributing their knowledge and support to the creation of this guide.