The White House Launches First-Ever Demo Day To Encourage Tech Diversity


The White House is launching its first-ever Demo Day on Tuesday, welcoming over 30 startups, major tech companies and venture capital firms, in an attempt to encourage diversity in tech.

Hosted by President Obama, White House Demo Day will showcase the talents of innovators around the country, as they pitch ideas and share their stories with potential funders. The entrepreneurs from across the U.S. will feature women and people of color — two demographics that are underrepresented in entrepreneurship.

Only 3 percent of venture-capital backed startups are headed by women, and only 1 percent by African-Americans.

The president will personally meet with some participants — commenting on their exhibits, which will range from technologies still in the early stage to consumer products that are ready to hit shelves.

White House Demo Day is part of the president's Startup America initiative, which aims to inspire and increase entrepreneurship in the U.S.

As part of White House Demo Day, President Obama will also announce new public- and private-sector commitments that will give Americans more opportunities to pursue their ideas. That includes funding awards to boost entrepreneurship in communities, the Business Smart Toolkit from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the National Association for Government Guaranteed Lenders – which will assist new entrepreneurs in building a credit-ready business – and the expansion of the The Innovation Corps program, which provides entrepreneurship training for scientists and engineers.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will announce its Patent Pro Bono Program, which will provide free legal assistance to inventors who lack the resources to secure patent protection.

Politicians and businesses will also continue to follow through on the president's TechHire initiative – a multisector approach that rapidly trains people for lucrative tech jobs – adding 10 new cities and states to the effort. These areas include San Jose, Calif.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Cincinnati, Ohio, which will all commit to increasing opportunities and promoting diversity in the sector so that more women, minorities and veterans can enter the field.

Forty venture capital firms, including Andreessen Horowitz and Intel Capital, will participate in an industry survey that will track diversity at their firms and at businesses in their portfolio.

Companies like Airbnb, Amazon and Box will all announce new initiatives to promote diversity in their workforce. Facebook will ensure that women and minority-owned businesses will participate in its supply chain through its new Supplier Diversity program. Google will also hold its own Women's Demo Day later in the year.

The events at White House Demo Day are not limited to Washington, D.C. Entrepreneurs can engage in the conversation using the hashtag #WHDemoDay between 1:30 and 4 p.m. ET, or tune into the activities at a local watch party.


Photo: Marc Nozell | Flickr

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