Increasing diversity in the startup ecosystem by providing the education, tools, and community founders need to create investor-ready pitch material and a platform to help investors easily find those founders.
Hello First name / there!
We launched our MVP in February and have now worked with hundreds of founders, investors, and ecosystem partners. A sampling of our founder community is depicted above and it represents the surge of entrepreneurship in new majority founders. Many have gone on to raise their rounds and/or have been accepted to prestigious accelerators like Y Combinator, Techstars, MassChallenge, XRC Labs, Visible Hands and more. Don't tell me there's a pipeline problem. These are real founders with investable businesses.
There are a few questions I'm often asked related to diversity, so here's a newsletter FAQ edition:
Q: How do you define underrepresented? A: I don't. It's not for me to say how a founder identifies as underrepresented in the startup/fundraising landscape. Funding has been allocated to such a homogenous group that the majority of emerging founders and angel investors may identify as underrepresented in some way.
Q: Is there anyone you won't work with? A: You don't have to identify as underrepresented to work with us. I would never turn a founder away if they can benefit from our program or community. True diversity means equal representation for everyone without the exclusion of any profile.
Q: Shouldn't you be a non-profit? A: This one gets me worked up. Just because we are passionate about increasing diversity in entrepreneurship doesn't mean we're a charity. We are delivering tangible value to our founders, who are an undervalued asset class, and we're opening that asset class up to investors so they can find opportunities they otherwise wouldn't know about that may provide financial gain. Social entrepreneurship can be a faster, broader, and more powerful force for good.
I'll end on a point about authenticity. Last month I wrote about the $50M funding round for Canvas, which aims to make it easier for companies to hire diverse talent but does not have diverse founders itself. The backlash, uproar, and negative press actually led the CEO to step down. Stakeholders are increasingly looking for leadership that has first-hand experience with their journeys and needs, and this indeed is a “moat.”
Read on for upcoming events, replays of past ones, and don't miss our featured founder at the end! Not listed below are all of the pitch workshops we're running for incubators, accelerators, and university entrepreneurship programs where we cover pitch deck basics as well as presentation elements related to confidence and bias. Let's chat if you run a program and are interested in providing this content to your members.
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for helping us. I appreciate you.
Allison Byers, Founder & CEO
Updates & Events
Click on an update to learn more.
In Your Words
Each newsletter features the perspective of one of our members.
This month’s featured founder is Jeanne Hardy, founder & CEO of both Creative Business Inc. (CBI) and Levvy and regular contributor to industry publications like Forbes, Accounting Today and Small Biz Daily. Talk about an overachiever! CBI is a business services and financial advisory firm custom tailored to support the needs of entrepreneurs and business leaders in creative industries. She launched the business in 2005 after realizing the growing need for financial literacy in the art world.
Jeanne has repeatedly seen the struggles financial teams go through to keep everyone on the same page and keep up with increasingly fast-paced demands. Levvy is a first-of-its-kind digital workplace designed to keep remote CFO teams and clients on the same page, allowing business owners to grow by leaps and bounds. In a very short time she already has significant customer traction, and with her incredible founder-market fit, it's no wonder!
"After 15 years of running my first company I started to build Levvy. I never realized I had started down a path that would prove to be both exciting and terrifying at the same time. It's an evolutionary process. Your knowledge, confidence and leadership skills are challenged at every turn. The most fantastic surprise is all of the amazing people I’m meeting along the way. There have been so many conversations that have opened a new door and gotten me unstuck. We are far from the finish line with Levvy, really just beginning. But when I look back I can't believe how far we’ve come.
In my previous business I was solving problems that I understood and mostly anticipated. Now I’m facing challenges that I hadn't anticipated and am not always prepared to solve. The monumental amount of learning and twists and turns is formidable. It may sound exhausting but it's actually the most energizing adventure I've ever been on. I encourage any business owner with some miles behind them to take a chance on themselves and launch that new business idea. It's so worth the journey. "