imagesKathyrn Finney is a force of nature.  Through her platform Digital Undivided she just released #Project Diane a research project around the state of black women in tech.  They looked at over 88 startups founded by black women and put together some interesting results.

Black women are extremely entrepreneurial, they raise less money than their counterparts and they are extremely well educated.  There are 11 women who raised more than $1m in that group and I am honored to be an early investor in three of those 11 companies.  The importance of supporting these black entrepreneurs is exactly like the importance of supporting women entrepreneurs.  If there isn’t diversity in tech companies which includes black, latino and female leaders then there are no role models for the next generation coming up the pike.

The solution is to invest in these founders and create programs that helps them grow into successful companies.  The other solution is for the investors to realize that demographics are changing and not only are there business opportunities to support but it is important to support their companies to change the ratios.  I have invested in some that have failed but I realized the size of the market the founder was trying to address and it was a market that she understood better than anyone else.

Upfront had a powerful panel on diversity at their event in LA.  The link is to the panel.  It is long but worth the entire watch.  Magic Johnson said “You have to look like America looks, because right now the tech sector doesn’t look like America.”  That sums it up.

The fact that we are watching panels like this, reading reports like #ProjectDiane and having this conversation is why I do believe that we will see more diversity in the tech industry and the start-up industry as a whole as we move forward.  Personally I am betting on the smarts of these founders who are not only building solid companies they are becoming role models for the next generation of young black (and latino) Americans and that is empowering.

Check out discussions about #ProjectDiane:

Medium: https://medium.com/the-digitalundivided
INC: http://www.inc.com/tess-townsend/black-women-founders-struggle-fundraising.html
Ebony: http://www.ebony.com/life/the-upload-projectdiane-report-reveals-low-black-tech-stat#axzz3zmwxCqxJ
Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10995948

Comments (Archived):

  1. Laura Yecies

    Somehow I’m not surprised by how entrepreneurial black women are! Thanks for sharing this – it is such an important topic.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Agree…so not surprising.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      This is one generalization that I do not resent. :)Because it rings with truth.Comes from a similar place as the adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

  2. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Been seeing this linked and mentioned all over the place, yay! So many good things happening, so much work yet to do 🙂

    1. Gotham Gal

      so much work to still do.

  3. Yinka!

    Great post. Beatriz Acevedo’s observation in the Upfront video about companies needing minorities more than the latter needs them says it all. Minorities don’t need charity but companies need minorities’ insights to help expand their perspectives, tap into cultural drivers and deliver better results. Especially today, with changing demographics where minorities not only over-index in certain product categories, they also constitute significant percentages of early and key user segments.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Her comments were spot on

      1. Donna Brewington White

        As someone raised in Mexico, Beatriz reminded me of some of the black Africans and Jamaicans (etc.) I meet in this country. They are minorities in this country but don’t have a minority mentality because in their native land they were the majority. Their sense of identify was formed devoid of any sense of racial inferiority. This phenomenon fascinates me.

  4. Donna Brewington White

    Just downloaded my copy. Eager to read. Thanks for sharing!