Yesterday is the first ever White House Demo Day, a gathering of more than 90 startup founders who will showcase their innovations in front of President Obama. The White House event is US Government's take on the many “demo days” of the startup world, during which entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to potential funders. There is one difference, though (aside from the attendance of the President)—today’s event takes a particular focus on women and minority founders.
White House hosts first ever Demo Day for entrepreneurs
Yes, pitching your business to VCs sounds intimidating, but just imagine pitching it to the Investor-in-Chief.
“Unlike a typical day where the funders are listening to pitches, it’s about celebrating these entrepreneurs, and talking about their journeys,” said the U.S. CTO of Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Megan Smith. “There’s just extraordinary talent across the country…this is an opportunity to lift up those stories,” she said.
As part of the Demo Day, President Obama made a call to action to both the public and private sector, according to deputy director for technology and innovation at the OSTP, Tom Kalil. “We let a broad group of people know that we were going to be doing this and encouraged people to get in touch with us if they had ideas,” he said on a press call earlier in the day.
This call to action resulted in the announcement of a slew of new women-focused initiatives in the private sector. More than a dozen major companies, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Airbnb, KIND Health Snacks and Indiegogo amongst them, used the event as a springboard to launch new actions to ensure diverse recruitment and hiring of women at all levels. Initiatives listed in the White House fact sheet ranged from committing to the “Rooney rule,” a recruiting practice in which at least one woman and one minority are considered for each position, to more specific ideas and goals that could help the cause.
Google, for example, announced that it will hold its own Women’s Demo Day, which will feature women-led startups from around the US pitching to a group of judges at the Googleplex, with the goal of driving investment and providing Google mentorship and introductions to each entrepreneur. Also, IBM is committing to expanding its relationship with Girls Who Code to introduce the next generation of female software developers to cloud computing innovation.
Outside of the tech sector, Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of KIND Healthy Snacks, is earmarking $3 million to invest in female entrepreneurs. He has already committed to investing in three women leading emerging health-conscious food startups. Apart from financial support, Lubetzky says he will also provide ongoing strategic guidance and direct access to a network of mentors.
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: