Sharing is part of our company foundation, like the “opening the door for others” and “telling stories around the campfire” core values that makes Founders Live such a powerful and vibrant community.
Over the past year I’ve been logging lots of travel miles, (Over 23,000 at the current month of September) meeting innovators and learning a lot about what it takes to turn aspiration into reality. The stories people share with me are as different as the people sharing them, but they all have a common thread: they could never have done it alone, and none of these people look exactly the same or come from the same background.
The many nights on the road and that theme pushed me into a lot of reflection, mostly because I know a lot of that is true for me too. My path is abundant with people who have gone out of their way to do something great for me without expecting anything in return (thank you, thank you!) but the thing that keeps surfacing for me though is how much privilege influences one’s opportunities with the outside world. Being of lighter skin and from a modest middle America upbringing, I now acknowledge this has influenced my path more than I cared to pay attention to previously. But it pains me to see others just as capable and talented not receive the same treatment or acknowledgement from the world at large – and specifically our own industry – due to the color of their skin, their gender or other obvious differentiation. In fact, it pisses me off. Read this to more fully understand where my heart sits on this subject. I did not pen the article but 100% agree with what it says.
Without access to social networks, social and financial capital, and facing bias in investment decisions, women and underrepresented people of color encounter significant obstacles to launching tech startup ventures, gaining venture capital investment, or becoming tech investors. Just think of how many more great entrepreneurs, concepts, ideas and companies would be in the world if this wasn’t the case.
- Nearly 98% of venture-backed technology startup founders are White or Asian, and 83% are male.
- Of the gatekeepers to capital investments, 97% are white or Asian,
- 1% of venture capital dollars went to African American and Latino founders in 2016
- 2% of venture capital dollars goes to women founded companies
Source: The Leaky Tech Pipeline (2018) – Kapor Center for Social Impact
The disadvantage of these people comes at a cost to all of us. Overall, researchers estimate that if high-ability children from disadvantaged groups would benefit from the same circumstances as the best-off groups, there would be four times as many inventors in the US as there are today.
And the cited research suggests that it is not just income and access to education globally that matter. More importantly, poor living conditions globally are compounded by the fact that most children in most places are exposed to very few role models in research and innovation.
With that in mind, I believe Founders Live (all of us associated, here in the US and the many other countries we have a leadership position) has a unique opportunity to share our vision, creativity and commitment with the broader community to help make change and be a part of the solution. We can lift the places where we live and work as we grow our businesses. Together we can transform communities as we transform industries and marketplaces.
Today we’re excited to announce we’re launching our own initiative to give back in hopes to creating a more diverse and inclusive community of entrepreneurs.
And very soon we’ll be calling on the entire Founders Live community to join us by taking the Founders Live impact pledge, which states those founders will embark on their own social impact program. Check out our new social impact resource page (coming soon) to learn more about what Founders Live is doing and what you can do to join the cause!
The two initial components of the Founders Live Social Impact Mission include:
- Our learnings, education and efforts in creating a more diverse and inclusive community of entrepreneurs worldwide
- Encouraging others to take the Founders Live Impact pledge (Coming Soon in Q4)
The Founders Live Social Impact Mission – We aim to help create a more diverse and inclusive community and ecosystem for entrepreneurs
- Founders Live is a community united around sharing. We share our knowledge, insight, and enthusiasm to lift each other, no matter what we look like or where we happen to reside.
- Founders Live believes that a diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial community is a not only a driver of innovation, it’s the way the world should operate.
- That’s why we’re now working to connect those that are underrepresented in the start-up sector, with knowledge, networks and mentors so they can bring their ideas to reality. We want to do more to get women, people of color, people who identify with underrepresented communities, and those from all economic backgrounds building companies and experiencing success.
- We’ll start to work more closely with and learn about incubators, accelerators, funders and mentors who focus on diversity and connect aspiring entrepreneurs with the resources they need.
- We’ll also be reaching out to our own members to find mentors and advisors who can help support entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds.
- Armed with these learnings, we’ll aim to build out programs and experiences which will help to achieve our goals above.
- Lastly, this wouldn’t be Founders Live with inspiring others to act, so we’re also (very soon) calling on all of you to commit to giving back to the community and take the Founders Live Social Impact Pledge. We’re not asking you to take on a big initiative or one similar to ours, but to take the first step if you haven’t already in determining your social impact. And to make it easy we’re providing you with how-to’s and tools to make social impact a part of your business. We’re here to let you know it’s possible to make a difference in the community.
We acknowledge all this will take time to fully take shape but we are committed to incorporating them into our day to day activities as a company. We hope it impacts you too and moves you to act in your own positive way.
Thank you again for being a part of this amazing global community, we are very lucky to call you a member and founder friend. Today we are asking you to think about what you’d like to see improved and positively impacted, and at some point make a commitment to deliver on that promise.