Entrepreneurs Demonstrate their Innovative Ideas at the First White House Demo Day

Today the President hosted the first-ever White House Demo Day, welcoming startup founders from across the country and diverse backgrounds to “demo” their success stories.

Entrepreneurship drives the American economy. We are a nation of inventors, makers, and innovators. Even so, we know that so much of our entrepreneurial talent remains untapped.

Consider this: Just three percent of America’s venture capital-backed startups are led by women. Less than one percent are led by African-Americans. And the state of California received more venture capital funding last year than the rest of the country combined.

We need to do more to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to fully contribute their entrepreneurial talents. Inclusive entrepreneurship is both a matter of fairness and an economic imperative – you don’t win games by leaving more than half the team on the bench, and companies with diverse leadership often outperform those that don’t.

A venture capital firm recently examined a decade’s worth of data from their portfolio of 300 companies and found that startup teams with at least one female founder performed 63 percent better than all-male teams.

And according to a McKinsey study, public companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

To capitalize on this opportunity and grow our innovation economy, the President issued a call to action to advance inclusive entrepreneurship and announced dozens of new actions by the Federal government and the private sector to diversify our entrepreneurial talent pipeline, including:

  • Announcing 116 winners of two Small Business Administration prizes that promise to unleash entrepreneurship in communities across the country – the Growth Accelerator Fund for startup accelerators, incubators, and other entrepreneurial ecosystems; and, the President’s “Startup in a Day” initiative that will empower mayors to cut red tape for local entrepreneurs.
  • Scaling up the National Science Foundation I-Corps program with eight new and expanded Federal agency partnerships, introducing hundreds of entrepreneurial scientist teams across the country to a rigorous process for moving their discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace;
  • Expanding the response to the President’s TechHire initiative with 10 new cities and states working with employers on new ways to recruit and place applicants based on their skills, to create more accelerated tech training opportunities, and to invest in innovative placement programs to connect trained workers with entrepreneurial opportunities and well-paying jobs;
  • Over 40 leading venture capital firms with over $100 billion under management, including Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, and Scale Venture Partners, committing to specific actions that advance opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem;
  • Institutional investors committing over $11 billion to emerging managers, including CalPERS and the New York City Pension Funds;
  • Over 100 engineering deans committing to attract and retain a diverse student body, building the pipeline for the next generation of American engineers and entrepreneurs; and
  • Over a dozen major technology companies announcing new actions to ensure diverse recruitment and hiring, including Amazon, Box, Microsoft, Pinterest, and Xerox, and committing to adopt variations on the “Rooney Rule” to consider diverse candidates for senior executive positions.

Additionally, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith hosted a roundtable focused on diversity and inclusion with some of the technology leaders and entrepreneurs from White House Demo Day. Yesterday, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker also hosted an “Open for Innovation” event where large companies showcased their technology needs to a room full of startups, exploring opportunities for partnership.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters recently introduced legislation that would reauthorize the State Small Business Credit Initiative to support entrepreneurs in regions across the country. And, members of the Congressional Black Caucus are in Silicon Valley this week to emphasize the economic benefits of diversity.

In the months ahead, the White House will continue to engage with stakeholders on new and expanded efforts that will increase the inclusiveness and strength of America’s innovation economy. Working together, we can make sure the United States is the best place on the planet to start and scale a business, no matter where you come from. To get involved, drop us a note at startup@ostp.gov.

Learn more:

Jennifer Erickson is Assistant Director of Innovation for Growth at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Doug Rand is Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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