Kathyrn 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:
Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/