July 5, 2018 – Justin McLeod, Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager (Original Article)
“It’s a really easy thing to talk about, increasing diversity in the workplace. You can say the words but the real question is, what are you actually going to do about it?”
To put actions behind those words of diversity and inclusion, we put a stake in the ground by hiring a Diversity Ambassador, coordinating inclusive tech events, and launching our first ever Pre-Accelerator program that specifically focused on Founders who were women and people of color.
“It Takes A Village” means an entire community with different skill sets, backgrounds, and cultures is needed to produce the most productive and innovative companies.
The vision for the It Takes A Village Pre-Accelerator program was to create a community of early-stage, diverse Founders to give them direct access to a community, education, mentorship, and capital to get to the next level.
Throughout the course of this 6-month program, these 11 Founders were exposed to an interactive educational curriculum, various investors, and a vast amount of resources to help them grow and scale their startups.
Some Diversity and Inclusion initiatives can be very misleading, seen as a PR stunt, or just trying to meet a specific quota. However, the best way to avoid this fluff is to simply show the numbers because the numbers don’t lie.
During 6 months, our 11 Pre-Accelerator Startups:
- Raised $200k in funding
- Landed 4 Pilots w/ Enterprise companies
- Brought in $85k in revenue
- Two were offered entrance to Accelerators
This last week, they graduated with a packed house, demos, and lots of celebration.
Our group of strong, impressive Founders created an inclusive environment where everyone felt comfortable to be themselves and were able to share the good, bad, and ugly experiences of building a startup. They had a community with people that looked like them and understood the same social and economic prejudices. Outside of their successful numbers, this was perhaps the most important part of our program.
Here’s what our Founders had to say:
“Having people that understand your struggle both from a cultural standpoint and tech entrepreneur standpoint, having those people you can bounce ideas off of and build relationships with – That has been the thing that I enjoyed the most.” – Robert Hatcher, Soundcollide
“From the different accelerator programs I’ve been in or have had exposure too… this one has been the most unique, the most focused. They’ve actually been hands on and it’s genuine.” – Ify Ifebi, VendorSpace
Watch more of their experience HERE.
Why is this program important?
To really make an impact regarding diversity and inclusion in technology, we need to have more successful startups (e.g. IPOs, Acquisitions, etc.) that are led by women and people of color.
Those successful entrepreneurs will act as a positive representation for the next generation of young women and people of color leaders to make technology an attractive option when choosing a career path.
We believe our It Takes a Village Pre-Accelerator is a small step forward in building that long term change and success.
Applications are now open for our second cohort starting in mid-August! If you or someone you know has an awesome startup with Founders who are women or people of color, we want to get to know you.
Spread the word. Take the leap. APPLY.