The Audio Must Match the Video: Updating the Techstars Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

By Jason Thompson, VP of Diversity and Inclusion at Techstars

Recently, I purchased a new TV. I decided there was no reason to read the directions. I figured I love technology, and I’m reasonably handy, so: no need for directions. What could go wrong?

I soon realized that every channel was in a foreign language. My first thought was that the cable company inadvertently sold me a lineup of channels for this particular foreign language. I assumed all I needed to do would be to change the channel to a local station. I was wrong! The local channel was also in a foreign language. The characters from a very popular US sitcom were speaking in English, I could tell, but the audio was something else. The audio did not match the video. The sound and the action didn’t match.

A simple principle of watching TV is that the audio matches the video. Much the same principle—that what we say must match what we do—is the basis for Techstars decision to update our Code of Conduct and incorporate the Kapor Founder’s Commitments. We have publicly said we are committed to Diversity & Inclusion, so it makes sense incorporate this into our Code of Conduct, plus adding some clear things we can do to act on our statements. Audio matches video.

The Kapor Founder’s Commitments have 4 pillars: Goals, Invest, Volunteer, and Educate (G.I.V.E.). We commit to hold ourselves to these standards, and we ask that all members of our network do the same. By having these pillars, our audio will match our video. It is one thing to say we are committed to D&I—but it is even more important to show how we are achieving on our stated commitment. G.I.V.E. is a tangible way to measure and implement our D&I commitment. As this project progresses you will be able to see a dashboard on our website that will show how Techstars is achieving on the G.I.V.E. commitments. You will see that we are not perfect; D&I work is a journey. We have places for improvement and projects in progress. We want make sure we are being transparent.

We know D&I is important, but it has to be reflected in our Code of Conduct and it has to mean something tangible. That is why we have included the Kapor Founder’s Commitments. Kapor has been a leader in the D&I space, so there was no reason to reinvent the wheel. We have worked closely with Kapor and we are grateful for their encouragement and shared learnings.

There was another thing that happened when I finally figured out how to change the audio on my TV to English… the video was fine, but somehow the audio was about one second behind the video. I could now understand everything, but the sound didn’t quite sync up with the images. First their mouths moved, and then came the speech. This was hugely distracting, to the point I couldn’t even watch my show.

The timing of the audio must also match the video, because even the slightest delay creates problems that cannot be ignored. This is quite a metaphor for fair pay for equal work. If you review the changes to the Code of Conduct you will see we have also expanded our D&I commitment to include fair compensation for equal work. Companies commit to diversity and inclusion need to make sure what they say is reflected in their actions and includes fair pay.

If you are paid a salary that is even a little behind what your co-workers are getting for equal work, it is unjust. Justice should not be asked to wait. It also creates an environment that breeds resentment because the solution is simple: pay all people a fair wage for their work. That is why we included in the Techstars Code of Conduct that all members of the network commit to ensuring everyone receives fair compensation, including all forms of equity and benefits. Audio must match video.

In addition to asking everyone in our network to sign the Code of Conduct, we are building a drip campaign for all new founders to assist them in meeting the D&I commitment. It will remind them quarterly of their commitment to D&I, and offer suggestions for them to achieve on the principles of G.I.V.E. Many of these suggestions cost little and are designed to assist even the youngest startup achieve on their D&I goals in a manner the is consistent with their size and resources.  

Plugging in a TV seems simple enough, but the details are important. Being handy and loving technology are not enough for setting up a TV—or a productive D&I program. Liking people from diverse backgrounds and assuming that you have no bias is not enough. Building a D&I program requires commitment and focus. The commitment must be reflected in policies and programs. As Techstars continues on our D&I journey, we thank Kapor Capital for their work in the D&I space.  And we ask that you join us on our journey. It is equally importantly that we all commit to working to ensure that the audio matches the video: that what we say matches what we do.








Inclusion & Diversity, Why It Matters To Techstars

Our journey to fill the role of VP of I&D at Techstars has taken a number of years, but some of the most enlightening moments came from interviewing the fantastic dozen or so finalists we lined up for the position.

One of those moments came in a discussion of the importance of inclusion in any D&I initiative. It was like a lightbulb went off for me. Inclusion was a word that felt true to what I wanted for Techstars and our portfolio.

I grew up in Montreal, Canada, a society where inclusion was celebrated. We learned in high school that Canada was a cultural mosaic – a country made up of many cultures – and the differences between the cultures were to be celebrated.

We would go to the various neighborhoods in Montreal, the Greek neighborhood, the Chinese neighborhood, the Jewish neighborhood, and more. Not just to eat at the restaurants (although we did that too), but to experience the life and culture of as many different people as possible.

That was life in Canada, we accepted everyone. We had a gay prime minister and it wasn’t even a news story. I can’t imagine that in the United States. One of my favorite stories involves of one of my oldest friends, Louis (hi, Louis!). He was the first of my friends to meet a girl and settle down. It has been one of the great love affairs of all time, and 30 year later, when their kids moved out of the house, was when they decided that maybe they should celebrate by getting married. It never mattered there, but it sure would here.

So that inspired me to change the title of the role we were looking to fill here at Techstars from Diversity & Inclusion to Inclusion & Diversity. It’s not my original idea – it’s been done before. But I thought it might cause us to pause a bit and ask why. It would give me the chance to tell my story on why the word “inclusion” resonated with me.

Diversity is important, but will be a wasted effort if you don’t allow people to bring their whole self to work, whatever that might be. Creating an inclusive work environment will bring more diversity to your organization.

Welcome Jason Thompson to Techstars

To continue with our initiative, we are excited to announce that Techstars has hired Jason Thompson as our new VP of I&D. Jason has had a long career in Diversity and Inclusion, most recently with the US Olympic Committee.

Jason has developed award winning D&I programs for sports organizations, healthcare and higher education. In 2016, the D&I Scorecard Jason developed to measure diversity for the National Governing Bodies within the US Olympic Movement was recognized as the number one innovation at the 13th Annual International Innovation in Diversity Award by the Profiles in Diversity Journal.

We made public our commitment to diversity as part of our attendance at the White House demo day event three years ago, but we started on our initiatives well before that.

Techstars has both implemented and learned a lot over this time period. We have tried many things, some have worked and some haven’t, at least not yet. But what has remained unchanged is our commitment to creating an inclusive and diverse environment, and to serve as a role model to others.

Jason, we’re happy to have you on this journey with us.








Techstars Boston: Help Us Get More Diverse Founders Applying

Challenging the bro-grammer stereotype

The first day of Techstars Boston, I was impressed by all the thoughtful, kind, and honest people I met. There was little in the group that resembled the stereotype of a mansplaining bro-grammer. Except for the fact that people said the word “awesome” a lot and nearly everyone was a straight, white man.

There was just a small handful of women and even fewer people of color. One female-led startup. Two founders of color.

But within that first day, both Clement Cazalot, the managing director, and Aaron O’Hearn the director of Techstars Boston, stood up in front of the entire class and told us that this lack of diversity was their fault. They called this their personal failure to recruit more women and people with diverse backgrounds.

They didn’t make excuses or get defensive. They acknowledged it and took responsibility. The program tracked hundreds and hundreds of companies from applications and referrals from the network: only 18 percent of teams had a female founder n and just 48 percent self-identified as non-white (although only a fraction of the applicants shared this information, and empirical data would suggest a very different ratio where non-white applicants are a minority).

Since that day a few weeks ago, by opening the conversation about the very visible diversity gap, Aaron and Clement have already taken the first step towards changing it. This conversation is just the start.

What can we do to change this?

In short, I can see at least three huge obstacles.

  1. Fighting the bad reputation of an entire industry

On that first day, Aaron and Clement also set the tone for three months of a startup accelerator focused on personal development and propelling these startup ideas forward. They laid out the core values of giving first, acting with integrity, and treating each other with respect. They didn’t skip over a single bullet of the Techstars’ Code of Conduct, putting serious weight behind their statements that they would not tolerate any harassment or violence.

It all sounds like common sense, but they are fighting against the reputation of the entire tech/startup ecosystem that is rightly and publicly criticized for having a gender-discrimination problem, an even worse racial disparity, and a track record of sexual harassment.

This bad reputation has a major impact on many potential founders, who might have an amazing idea for a new startup. How many women want to be in a group of dudes mansplaining tech? How many people of color want to feel like the token black friend? Or worse, discriminated against when the investors come around later?

Those fears are real.

Fighting this reputation only starts with words and conversations. Statements that set Techstars as a safe place for not just all kinds of business ideas, but all kind of people. Aaron, Clement, and all the others here who go out of their way to make sure that every person here is treated with respect.

Then those words must be backed up with action.

  1. If you’re actually biased towards actions

It’s not enough to say you care about diversity. You have to follow your words with real actions. This is the supposed mindset of every entrepreneur: see a problem, search out solutions, and take action.

In taking action, Techstars publishes data on diversity and established a foundation exclusively for giving grants to organizations with programs focused on improving diversity in entrepreneurship. Locally, the Techstars Boston is searching for more actionable steps.

“We’re being explicit and looking for solutions,” Clement says. “There is no ‘silver bullet’ and we have to have a long-term approach.”

Clement wants to improve diversity in the application pipeline and make the program known for attracting a diverse mix of potential founders. Last fall, he and Aaron put the word out to people they knew in the community, made the rounds to venture capitalists, and held office hours to recruiting potential founders. Those actions weren’t enough.

In a similar vein, the managing director of Techstars Seattle, Chris Devore, wrote a blog post last year after the program had only one female-led startup that accepted a slot in the program. Chris wrote he was frustrated that he failed to recruit diverse startups and asked for ideas from the Seattle community. Following Chris’ request for help, the diversity in the Seattle program has improved – with the press calling it one of Seattle’s most diverse classes yet.

Some Techstars programs, including in Boston, have had a more equal gender mix (or completely equal) among their startup founders. It takes planning and intentional effort, the long-term approach to get the word out before 2019 applications even open in the summer.

  1. Change starts with all of us

We need all of Boston engaging in this conversation and looking for solutions. More diversity in early stage startups is the fastest way to challenge the reputation that afflicts this industry. To make steps toward better, safer, more respectful workplaces for everyone.

This takes getting the new Techstars founders, the alumni, the mentors, and community partners all involved. For all of us in the Boston community too — in tech, education, finance, marketing, whatever — we can help change this.

Demo Day is at the end of April. Tell your friends, family, or students to come, meet the Techstar team, and the founders. Applications open for the 2019 program in the summer and stay open until the fall.

Help us recruit, encourage, and support all those founders who don’t look like the bro-grammer stereotype.








Changing the Ratio: Startup Weekend Women is Coming to Denver, Colorado!

Denver, Boulder & Fort Collins rank within the top ten cities for female entrepreneurship, and yet there is still a struggle to get female founders funded and successfully launching their businesses. Not to mention that entrepreneurship in general can be a lonely and intimidating career choice. So how do we make a difference here and change these statistics? Education, support, resources and working in teams, rather than alone, is where we start!

Startup Weekend Women Denver on February 9th – 11th will ignite some serious change in this arena by bringing women from all backgrounds together for 54 hours…to learn, be mentored and build businesses together. Who should attend? Any women that has a business idea, needs help creating a startup, or those that want to help, support and empower women in this endeavor by working with them for three days in a collaborative team environment. This event is open to anyone in the community, not just women!

The hardest part of starting up is starting out! This 54-hour event at The Commons on Champa in Downtown Denver is designed to create working startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks. Teams will hear talks by industry leaders and receive valuable feedback from local mentors and entrepreneurs. Whether you are looking for feedback on a idea, a co-founder, specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute, Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup or being part of one.

Plus there’s an added bonus for this special event! This event in Denver is actually part of a larger Global Startup Weekend Women initiative where 23 cities worldwide will hold the same event on the same weekend with the same goal in mind. The winner from Startup Weekend Women Denver…will go to Paris! (And no, we are not talking about Paris, Arkansas) The Sunday night pitch winner from each city (including Denver) will win an all-expense paid trip to Paris to participate in the final global event in March.

We know the power of women-led businesses and the talent women in leadership, marketing, tech, operations, sales and finance bring to the entire team. That’s why we want you to be a part of this weekend and join some of the most talented and entrepreneurial-minded women across our community!

Grab your tickets while they last and we’ll see you there!

And a special thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible and for supporting the future of our startup community: Full Contact, ZayoTechnical Integrity, Qwinix, The Commons on Champa, Meyer Law, PitchLab, Women Who Startup, Choozle, All Terrain Yoga, Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch








The Techstars Startup Week Code of Conduct

This post originally appeared on startupweek.co.

If you’re around me long enough, you’ll most likely hear me talk about the importance of radical inclusion at a Techstars Startup Week™. Making sure everyone, regardless of background, feels welcome and included is at the heart of this community building effort.

As organizers of Techstars Startup Week, this sense of welcoming is just as important as the educational content that’s delivered – maybe even more so. Creating a space where people feel safe and have a seat at the table where their voice is heard is a huge step towards creating a healthy and sustainable startup ecosystem.

One of the tools that we use to create this safe environment is our Techstars Startup Week Code of Conduct. These are the parameters by which all participants in Techstars Startup Week agree to abide by. Whether you’re a panelist, speaker, volunteer or attendee, by participating in the event you agree that you’ll take part in creating an environment that’s free from harassment.

In order for our Code of Conduct to work, it’s your responsibility to enforce it. It’s one thing to have people agree to follow it, but it’s an entirely other thing if an incident arises but no one is willing to take action.

Failing to take action can have a long-term, negative impact on how your community grows.

There have been many examples throughout the years where organizers of other events failed to act when something was reported, resulting in a dark cloud hanging over their event, and sometimes causing damage to the community afterwards.

I know that enforcing the Code of Conduct can be difficult. When a report of inappropriate behavior comes to our attention, it can feel like a punch to the gut. But it’s in those moments where we have to step up and protect the integrity of our work. If we’re truly committed to bringing our community together, fostering deep and long-lasting connections between entrepreneurs, then you owe it to them to act when something comes to your attention.

I encourage you to read through the Techstars Startup Week Code of Conduct and share it with everyone participating in your Techstars Startup Week. If an incident should arise during your event, having this code to point to will help tremendously, especially if the person accused feels they did nothing wrong.

In situations where you feel stuck or need some guidance, feel free to reach out to me directly at matt.helt@techstars.com or through our online reporting tool, saysomething.techstars.com. We’re here to help you and make sure your attendees feel any situation is handled appropriately.

I also encourage you as a Techstars Community Leader to sign a pledge to abide by our Techstars Code of Conduct if you haven’t done so already. It’s a great way to let our community know you’re committed to upholding the ethics we all stand for.  








To learn more about Startup Week, visit us or get in touch!

Seven Female CEOs Join the 2017 Techstars London Accelerator

Following a tour across Europe that covered 21 countries and after meeting with hundreds of amazing entrepreneurs, we have narrowed the field to 11 companies that are joining us for the Techstars London Accelerator class of 2017.

The sixth Techstars London program kicks off this week, and we are proud to have seven of the 11 companies led by female CEOs.

We are looking forward to three months of intense and productive times (mixed in with a little fun!), capped off by Demo Day on October 11th.

The sectors our companies work in are broad – from project management, natural vitamin rich shots and fashion, to clinical trials, mobile app marketing and banking.

Techstars is the Worldwide Network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and strong partners and mentors help make this happen. We’re grateful for their support, their time and their guidance. We couldn’t do it without them.

Here are the Techstars London Accelerator 2017 companies:

Coconut: Coconut is the bank account for freelancers and self-employed people that tells you how much tax to save, sorts out your expenses and helps you get paid on time.

FindMeCure: FindMeCure is the platform that helps people all around the world to find, understand and join treatments that are still not publicly available.

Hurree: Hurree is designed for marketers & developers trying to make their app a success.

Lifebit: Lifebit is enabling breakthroughs in Science, R&D & Medicine, by connecting & delivering the operating systems of genomics that power computers, clusters & clouds to effectively analyze big biodata.

Live2Leave: Live2Leave is a travel app where you can record your favorite spots and get recommendations from people you know.

Nell: Nell are 100 percent natural vitamin rich shots designed to fill the nutritional gap for busy people.

ObjectBox: ObjectBox is the fastest mobile database on the market.

Planable: Planable is the fastest way for marketing teams to work together on social media content.

Polydone: Polydone brings Agile project management & resources management to the Enterprise.

Stylindex: Stylindex is a visual database of talent and production resources creating commercial content for the fashion industry.

Toneboard: Toneboard is a voice audio analytics company that is helping companies understand the needs of their customers and predict their behaviour.








Diversity in Entrepreneurship: Coalition for Queens

We recently sat down with David Yang of Coalition for Queens, one of the eight Techstars Foundation Grantees, to learn more about the organization and how it’s helping diversity in entrepreneurship.

Coalition for Queens increases economic opportunity through technology and transforms the world’s most diverse community into a leading hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

What sparked the idea for C4Q?

C4Q was launched in 2011 by Jukay Hsu and David Yang with the mission to create economic opportunity through technology.

Returning to his hometown of New York City after completing his service as a U.S. Army Infantry Officer, Jukay observed a critical information and skills gap in his community and was inspired to start an organization that closed the divide between tech and the greater population.

The idea for C4Q is deeply rooted in his military experiences working with individuals who did not have college education but embodied the grit, resilience and passion that characterizes exceptional entrepreneurs and technologists.

C4Q’s very first project was built upon Mayor Bloomberg’s Applied Science initiative, which aimed to create a new tech focused university to help drive economic activity and position New York City as a central hub for innovation.

With a background in design and a deep interest in education, David joined Jukay in the pursuit to connect underserved and underrepresented populations with the opportunities created by technology

C4Q began as two Queens natives hoping to bring opportunity to more New Yorkers and create a tech community that was reflective of the great diversity of the city.

What problem are you solving?

The innovation economy is transforming the workforce.

On the one hand, technology has generated new industries, companies, jobs and wealth at a rapid rate. At the same time, tech–with significant advances in fields like automation and robotics–has made other industries and jobs obsolete. Whereas manufacturing once provided opportunity and stability, the growth of the tech sector has seemingly created a sense of economic anxiety.

Many individuals across the United States do not have access to the skills needed to participate in the innovation economy. For the 70 percent of Americans who do not have college degrees in particular, the limited opportunities to gain employment and move out of poverty remain a significant challenge.

To solve this problem, C4Q empowers adults living in poverty and without college education with the skills needed to gain jobs in the innovation economy. We aim to create a more diverse and inclusive tech community in New York City, and in particular we serve New Yorkers who do not have college education.

By training and enabling talent from underserved and underrepresented communities, we are ensuring inclusive and integrated growth.

What is the biggest misperception around the issue you are trying to solve?

Our work takes place in Queens and New York City, but it is rooted in what the location represents: a place for opportunity and growth. We believe that people from all backgrounds should have the opportunity to learn to code, gain jobs in tech and create the companies of the future.

At C4Q, the conception of diversity extends beyond gender and ethnicity. It is critical to provide opportunity for individuals from low-income backgrounds, ensuring that we serve those who would otherwise not have access to the emerging opportunities in tech.

Enabling diversity means creating socio-economic change and impact.

Tell us how your organization is helping your target audience?

Our flagship program, Access Code, trains adults from low-income backgrounds to become software engineers. Through an intensive 10-month curriculum built by industry experts, our students gain technical skills, industry knowledge and access to networks.

The program is transformative–graduates have gone from making $18,000 to over $85,000 a year and are working as programmers at some of the best startups and companies such as Kickstarter, Pinterest, OKCupid, CapitalOne and more.

How has the Techstars’ network helped your business so far?

Techstars entrepreneurs and startups represent the best emerging talent and companies. We are proud that C4Q Access Code graduates are now working at Techstars companies, shipping code and contributing to products that will reach millions of users.

Whether early stage companies currently in the accelerator to alumni from the wide network, Techstars serves as an aspirational role model for our organization and our students. As part of the Techstars Foundation, we’re excited to work together to build more talent pipelines and help bring diverse engineers into the tech community.

What is your vision for the future?

C4Q is currently focused on training the best software engineers and technology leaders from low-income and diverse backgrounds.

As we grow, we hope to increase our impact by serving more deserving audiences and understanding the levers by which we can improve our outcomes. We believe that the 70 percent of Americans who do not have college degrees can have equal access to good jobs and opportunity.

Our long-term vision includes expanding beyond teaching programming skills to enabling our community to become entrepreneurs and create companies of the future.

We aim to empower more individuals like Moawia Eldeeb, a graduate from our very first cohort who went from growing up in Queensbridge Public Housing to raising over $2 million to launch his startup after finishing our program.

Inspiring more and more entrepreneurs from diverse and underserved populations will create a more prosperous society.

The Techstars Foundation provides a way for Techstars alumni, partners, mentors, and others to Give First by supporting the foundation and helping create stronger entrepreneur communities worldwide.








Techstars Foundation Announces Second Round of Grantees

The Techstars Foundation is pleased to announce our second round of grantees who are committed to improving the landscape of diversity in tech.

We received hundreds of grant requests. The creative initiatives and thought leadership related to diversity in technology entrepreneurship is truly awesome. The work that these organizations are doing on this important issue is creating real change and building stronger communities around the world. We thank you all for the work you do.

The mission of the Techstars Foundation is to provide grants and resources to organizations making a scalable impact in diversity in tech entrepreneurship. This group of grantees encompasses a wide spectrum of underserved entrepreneurs, including female and minority entrepreneurs from underserved backgrounds, students of color and immigrant founders.

The organizations receiving financial grants and further assistance from the Techstars Foundation are:

c4q

Coalition for Queens (C4Q) increases economic opportunity through technology and transforms the world’s most diverse community into a leading hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. We believe that people from every community — across gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds — should have the opportunity to learn to code, gain jobs in tech, and create the companies of the future.

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The Global EIR Coalition expands economic opportunities through partnering international entrepreneurs, universities, and cities to promote job creation, grow local economies, and build their businesses throughout the United States.

sd-logo-1080x1080

Student Dream trains collegiate students of color to start companies. Driven by a vision to create wealth in communities of color, Student Dream runs semester long programs and a membership platform that connects aspiring Black, Hispanic, and Native American student entrepreneurs to training, mentorship, and industry opportunities needed to succeed.

An instructor from Coalition for Queens teaching a class
An instructor from Coalition for Queens teaching a class

 

Student Dream participants during an entrepreneurship event
Student Dream participants during an entrepreneurship event

 

A Global EIR working with University of Colorado student during a session of the Global Entrepreneurs in Residence Program.
A Global EIR working with a University of Colorado student during a session
 

Along with the financial  support, Techstars will leverage our broad global network of mentors, alumni and investors to provide additional support to these organizations. If you would like to learn more about these organizations or get involved, please contact: foundation@techstars.com.

Thank you again to our generous donors who have made these grants possible. We continue to encourage 100 percent participation from our network to help support this cause. Every dollar counts.  

If Techstars accelerators, staff, mentors or startup programs such as Startup Weekend and Startup Digest have helped you in some small way, please consider a donation of any amount to help improve diversity in tech entrepreneurship.

We look forward to making a difference in diversity in technology entrepreneurship together, through the above partnerships and with your support.








Diversity at Techstars Companies: 2016 Update

Last year Techstars announced our diversity commitment as part of White House Demo Day. As a follow up to that commitment, we are now reporting on our progress and publishing our diversity data annually. During 2016, we’ve tracked participation in our accelerator programs and have made measurable progress to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities within our applicant pool, mentors, and staff.

Here is a recap of what we are doing to improve inclusive entrepreneurship:

  • We created the Techstars Foundation to improve diversity in tech entrepreneurship worldwide, through grants to mission-driven organizations such as Defy Ventures, Astia, Change Catalyst, Gaza Sky Geeks, and Patriot Boot Camp.
  • We partnered with Chase for Business to survey ~700 startup founders about diversity and inclusion at their startup. The output includes a research report highlighting the data from that survey as well as a website which provides actionable resources startup founders can take to improve diversity at their startup.
  • We’ve trained staff on unconscious bias, are working to offer this training to our portfolio companies, and we’ve implemented processes to ensure that every selection committee includes at least two women.

Our specific diversity commitment last year was to:

Double the number of women in our accelerator program applicant pool and across our mentor network over four years. Track participation in our programs by underrepresented minorities and double that from the baseline over the same time period.

This year will serve as our baseline and we will update these numbers annually. Here’s how we’re doing so far:

2016

2017

2018

2019

Ethnically diverse founders

25%

TBD

TBD

TBD

Female founders/participants

19%

TBD

TBD

TBD

Female mentors

18%

TBD

TBD

TBD

  • Twenty five percent of our US-based founders are ethnically diverse (non-white).
  • Nineteen percent of our founders and program participants are female.
  • For many of our US-based accelerator programs (including Sprint, Retail, Healthcare, IoT and Connection) nearly 20 percent of the companies who applied had at least one female founder.
  • Eighteen percent of our mentors are female and 18 percent are ethnically diverse.
  • For our global Startup Programs, we’ve increased our gender diversity to 33 percent female attendees.
While we are glad to see our efforts are beginning to pay off, we’ve still got a very long way to go. We want to thank those of you who have helped with these efforts over the last year, and who will continue with us on this journey.
Startup Founders: to learn more about how to improve diversity and inclusion at your company, please visit our microsite for specific resources that will help you become a diversity leader.







Diversity in Entrepreneurship: Astia

We recently sat down with Yuka Nagashima and Sharon Vosmek of Astia, one of the five Techstars Foundation Grantees, to learn more about the organization and how it’s helping diversity in entrepreneurship.

Astia transforms the way businesses are funded by providing capital, connections and expertise that fuel the growth of women-led ventures.

What problem are you solving?

Astia continues to deliver on its mission to propel women’s full participation as entrepreneurs and leaders in high-growth businesses, fueling innovation and driving economic growth. We are transforming the way businesses are funded, providing capital, connections and guidance that fuel the growth of highly innovative, high-growth, women-led ventures around the globe.

With the launch of Astia Angels in 2013 under our White House Commitment, we are now investors in 40 companies that include women in positions of executive influence and leadership. In total, we have invested more than $12.5M of our own capital, representing more than $124M in syndication into 56 investments.

The Astia Angels portfolio is diverse in nearly every measure: team composition, sector, stage, technology, market, size and geography. And as an investment group, our impact on the market is notable: still today less than 3% of venture capital is invested in women-led companies.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-3-00-48-pm

Our investment activity in just the prior twelve-month period is on pace with some of the most active investment groups and represents more than $5.5M in direct investment (almost half of our three-year total).

Our investment velocity is increasing. In the same 12 month period, Astia has made >356 Astia Advisor connections, >100 investor connections to >143 women-led companies and maintained >5000 Astia Advisor volunteers around the globe.

What sparked the vision and foundation behind Astia?

Originally named the Women’s Technology Cluster, Astia was founded as part of the Three Guineas Fund in 1999, by Cate Muther, former CMO of Cisco Systems, and was spun off in 2003 as an independent non-profit. When Muther looked around, she wondered, “Where are all my female peers?” so she started WTC.

We changed our name to Astia to communicate a broader focus in diversity beyond just women. (The word Astia is derived from the Greek word, Aster, meaning star.)

We were not seeing sufficient interest from the larger community to invest, despite research demonstrating financial value of women-led companies, so we took matters into our own hands by starting Astia Angels (only investing in companies led by gender-inclusive teams).

sharon1

What is the biggest misperception around the issue you are trying to solve?

Female and male entrepreneurs are different. It’s not that women are forming different types of companies than men, but instead it’s the funding level that determines the kind of companies they end up becoming: the difference lies in the investor’s lens, and not the entrepreneurs.

How has the Techstars Foundation helped your cause/business?

What we hope to achieve from this relationship is a true partnership. Techstars investing in us was a validation of our mission and approach, alongside other mainstream investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Prolog Ventures and Illuminate Ventures.