Minority Entrepreneurship

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According to Entrepreneur magazine, minorities own about 15 percent of all U.S. businesses. Of those 15 percent, nearly half are in the services industry. Last week Google announced it’s donating $775,000 to increase the percent of minority-owned businesses, specifically in the technology industry, through Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) programs. Where is the money going and who can benefit?


Google is donating the money to a San Francisco-based nonprofit called CODE2040, who is facilitating the EIRs. The nonprofit focuses on cultivating entrepreneurs in the technology field among underrepresented minorities, with a special focus on African-Americans and Hispanics. The name comes from estimates that indicate by 2040 minorities will make up the majority of America. CODE2040’s goal is to make sure by that year minorities are adequately represented as entrepreneurs, especially in the technology industry. CODE2040 Residency Director Jason Towns says the nonprofit’s aim is “to support the development of diverse entrepreneurial ecosystems nationwide.”

Helping Around the Country

While based in San Francisco, CODE2040 helps cities around the country establish programs centered around minorities in entrepreneurship. One program is at Chicago’s 1871, an entrepreneurial hub for digital startups in the city. One minority entrepreneur will be selected to get one year at 1871, $40,000 in seed capital, a training trip to the Googleplex in Silicon Valley, networking opportunities and mentoring with Google and CODE2040 representatives, and many other resources. Google’s funds are also establishing similar programs at the American Underground in Durham, North Carolina and the Capital Factory in Austin, Texas.

Entrepreneurs can apply through CODE2040. Applicants must be African-American or Hispanic and live in the city hosting the EIR. They must be the founder of an early stage technology company and have a specific desire to reshape the racial and ethnic dynamic of the technology sector.

travisluther.com is dedicated to providing resources to entrepreneurs through information and collaboration. Contact us to find out more about entrepreneurship programs.

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Silicon Valley holds a perception of inclusion and progressiveness. Even a recent Intel commercial featured an Indian man as the company’s own rock star – and other tech companies have done the same. But the release of recent data shows stark contrasts between these images and the reality of visible minorities in Silicon Valley.

The truth is that most high-tech entrepreneurs are not white Mark Zuckerbergs who get it all figured out in Harvard dorm rooms. Most tech entrepreneurs cut their teeth while working in successful (and sometimes unsuccessful) technology companies within the industry. Only after getting some real world wisdom and experience do most entrepreneurs leave the ranks of the employed to start their own companies.

HITC Tech reports figures from Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn that reveal that their work force is more than sixty percent male—a 10% overshot of the general population (not terrible compared to other industries). But when it comes to race, African-American and Hispanic workers often accounted for less than ten percent of their total worker population. Throughout the general U.S. population, African-Americans and Hispanics make up almost 30%. What’s even more telling is that this ten percent minority is paid less on average than the reset of the workforce.

So who is to blame for Silicon Valley’s lopsided distribution of minorities? The explanations include the usual suspects – starting with education, where often-referenced statistics point to a lack of exposure to math and science for minorities and women, thus excluding them from technology jobs. One problem with this explanation, however, is that many of the jobs in Silicon Valley are in sales, marketing, and public relations, where the race gap is most easy to see.

Mindfulness (simply acknowledging these disparities) is one important step for tech companies who are hoping to close the gap. So is finding opportunities to reach minority communities and invite them to apply for permanent positions and internships that could give them the exposure they might need to move into tech companies and eventually form their own enterprises. Platform is an organization trying to do just that. This past October, Platform partnered with Morehouse College and the Level Playing Field Institute to pull together an academy to immerse minority students in math and science. The initiative is known as the 10,000 Innovators Fund. It’s aim is to boost the number of minorities in science and engineering programs.

Once more minorities are involved in the engineering heart of Silicon Valley, opportunities for everyone, inside and outside of these businesses, can benefit from a new diversity of ideas and perspectives.

Power Moves NOLA, a seed company based in New Orleans, is focused on creating opportunities for minorities in Entrepreneurship. The opportunities are designed to allow entrepreneurs to take home a salary and focus on building their business. Power Moves NOLA offers several areas of interest to budding minority entrepreneurs.

Rising Stars Bootcamp

Done in partnership with a leading startup accelerator, TechStars, the Bootcamp is a two day training event for early-stage minority entrepreneurs. Twenty-five companies were invited to the last event. The grand prize was $50,000, with a second place prize of $25,000 and five individuals invited to Power Moves NOLA’s mentorship program.

Power Pitch

Power Pitch Events are multiple one day events throughout the year with opportunities for minority entrepreneurs to pitch their company to investors. Companies wishing to participate in these events need to be minority-lead, investment-ready and invited to apply.

There were three events over the last year. The biggest pitch event was sponsored by Chevron, with a $5000 additional prize. The two other events were sponsored by Liberty Bank and Entergy.

Companies involved in Power Moves NOLA can come from any industry. In attendance at last year’s events were beauty companies, college guidance companies, exercise and social marketing apps and more.

Upcoming Year

Minorities interested in finding out more about Power Moves NOLA can get information at the upcoming NOEW 2015 in March. NOEW 2015 is the event for New Orleans entrepreneurs and others who desire to interact with the 30 plus investment organizations, including Power Moves NOLA, at the event.