OCTOBER NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
OCTOBER NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
We are already 2/3 at capacity!
Don’t miss THE event for the LGBT and business community!
We have some BIG names joining us at the StartOut Awards that you won’t want to miss:
LANCE BASS, LGBT advocate, entertainer, radio DJ, and entrepreneur will be your host through the most exciting night of awards for the LGBT community.
KARA SWISHER, game changing technology and digital trends journlalist, conference producer, and executive editor ofRe/Code joins us as a special presenter.
DAN SAVAGE, author, radio host, media pundit, journalist and co-creator of the It Gets Better Project joins us to interview our Leadership Award winner, George Takei
This year’s celebration includes:
-VIP Tickets give you exclusive access to our private reception with the honorees, VC’s, investors, newsmakers, and the StartOut team
-Full 10 Seat VIP and General Admission Tables are available for your group– a perfect reward for your team and a chance to network with the biggest names in entrepreneurship
-Discounted rooms rates are available at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.
-Need a lift? Have a FREE RIDE to/from the Awards on Uber
Many THANKS to our 2014 StartOut Awards Sponsors
Interested in sponsoring the StartOut Awards?
Music provided by: Cocktails provided by:
And a continued THANK YOU to our annual sponsors:
Looking to hire Part Time Administrative Assistant to join StartOut in San Francisco.
General description of ideal candidate: very smart, very competent, extremely well-organized, tech/internet savvy person who can adapt to working in the unstructured environment that accompanies a very small nonprofit without becoming frustrated or overwhelmed; a good writer; very flexible; enjoys multi-tasking to accommodate a variety of work functions and priorities. This is the perfect experience for someone wanting to learn the ins and outs of a professional nonprofit operation. Job functions:
Washington, DC – Technology and LGBT advocacy came together at a White House meeting on Monday, July 7th, to discuss how innovation can help deliver change and resolve issues in the community.
The StartOut delegation of sixteen, including several members of StartOut’s boards of directors and governors, as well as senior StartOut leadership, major donors, and entrepreneurs were in attendance.
The President’s offices of Public Engagement and Science & Technology Policy, with the leadership of Leanne Pittsford (Lesbians Who Tech) and Taryn Miller-Stevens (Get / Out), hosted nearly 200 entrepreneurs, tech experts, and leaders from the LGBT community at the first White House LGBT Innovation Summit.
“To have the White House hold a summit on LGBT innovation and technology is truly remarkable,” said Thomas McAfee, president of gay social network Distinc.tt and a StartOut member.
Speakers included Meghan Smith, VP GoogleX; Tim Gill, founder of Quark publishing software and a prominent gay rights activist; Geena Rocero, founder of transgender rights group Gender Proud; and Leanne Pittsford, founder of Lesbians Who Tech. Participating groups included LGBT Tech Partnership, Maven, NGLCC, oSTEM, Out for Undergrad, Out in Tech, Out Leadership, Reaching Out MBA, StartOut, and Trans*H4CK.
“Everyone is collecting data for their populations, but in most spaces LGBT questions are absent. And data is required for the advancement of any population,” said one attendee. Collecting and quantifying the much-needed data on the segments of the LGBT communities was among the many topics covered.
During the summit there were multiple networking sessions and opportunities to deliver ‘elevator pitches’ introducing the organizations present, and allowing them to connect with resources and advice from fellow business leaders and innovators.
Many organizations and entrepreneurs present saw the tremendous value in StartOut’s ability to connect LGBT leaders to mentoring, education, and access to capital. Several exciting potential partnerships are already in discussion thanks to the White House LGBT Innovation Summit.
KQED radio in San Francisco highlighted StartOut’s participation in the summit, which you can click to hear below.
We’re excited to announce the 2014 cohort for StartOut’s Lesbian Entrepreneur Mentoring Program – the first-ever program of its kind.
We received over 80 applications from around the country, from which we selected promising entrepreneurs and businesses. We then paired them with seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and senior level executives to provide support and guidance.
We’re happy to share our second class of mentors and new entrepreneurs in the 2014 Lesbian Entrepreneur Mentoring Program.
Over the course of this program, we’ve seen some incredible successes. Some of our new entrepreneurs have received funding as a result of the program; others have identified potential partnerships. More importantly, we’ve made steps towards fulfilling StartOut’s commitment to create wealth and opportunity in the LGBT community by supporting entrepreneurs and serving the immediate and long-term needs of growing businesses.
Lynn Casper - Lynn Casper is a media activist and artist who uses various forms of creative media to promote equality. Growing up in North Carolina and realizing at a young age that there weren’t many representations of herself in mainstream media, she started creating her own DIY-style. From learning HTML to build music fansites to “hosting” radio shows from her duel cassette boombox in her bedroom, she kept up with the evolutions of technology to find new ways to create and distribute media.
Since those childhood days, she has organized DIY collectives, music and film festivals, exhibited in art galleries, performed in various bands and much more. A wearer of many hats, Lynn founded, produces and hosts a radio and TV show for Homoground, a media group that raises visibility for LGBTQ musicians and artists.
Serafina Palandech is the President and Co-Founder of Hip Chick Farms. Hip Chick Farms brings healthy great-tasting poultry products to time challenged families seeking convenient real food based on trusted ingredients. As a veteran non-profit executive, project manager, strategic planner, and event organizer, Serafina spent more than fifteen years helping nonprofit organizations access private funding streams through event production and management, donor cultivation, corporate support, and in-kind partnerships.
Just prior to launching Hip Chicks, she founded and ran Tugboat Events, a boutique event production company which produced charity events for organizations in the Bay Area.
Serafina Palandech earned a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Genny LaMorgan - Genny LaMorgan, Owner of GreenWomanStore.com, has worked with international environment and development NGOs. In the course of her international work, she became aware of women’s call for “Market Access.” Green Woman Store is the answer to that call. It is her goal to provide fair trade, sustainable, and woman made products to conscious consumers, while supporting women entrepreneurs at all stages of their business development. Sliding scale fees are the cornerstone of her work with women’s cooperatives and sole proprietorships, with 50% to 80% of all sales being paid directly to the women artisans and manufacturers. Studies show that when the resources are returned to the women, everyone benefits!
Emily Schu - Emily Schu is co-founder and Product Director of Propagate, a literacy and language learning company that seamlessly integrates word learning and adaptive literacy supports directly into what students are already reading online. Propagate is built on key principles from leading literacy and cognitive science studies, and is supported by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Harvard Innovation Lab, and the Education Design Studio at the University of Pennsylvania. Emily holds an Ed.M in Technology and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she studied product design for education.
Rachel Wolan - Rachel Wolan is the founder and CEO of YadaZing, a leading online education platform for English students. YadaZing helps English students become fluent in real, conversational English by adapting real videos, like movie clips and TED Talks, into entertaining grammar and vocabulary lessons. Founded in 2013, YadaZing is already used by 3 of the top 5 domestic English school chains, and is poised to revolutionize English learning, teaching, and assessment both domestically and internationally.
Before founding YadaZing, Rachel worked as a software developer in Edtech (Pearson-owned startup) and in business roles at consumer Internet giants (Facebook and Say Media). She holds a B.S. in Education from Northwestern and an M.B.A. from UC Berkeley.
B. Cole - Cole is the force behind Brioxy, a life design platform for young people of color bringing life hacking, social capital, and membership services to one central place for the country’s fastest growing demographic. A graduate of the London School of Economics, Cole is a BMA Echoing Green Fellow, Coro Fellow, Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, and Spirit of Dolores Huerta Award recipient, she has worked across the US and internationally on issues of leadership development and social capital. She is also the Founder of the Brown Boi Project, the largest leadership development organization for young LGBT people of color in the US.
Teresa Tuan - Teresa Tuan is a physician, award-winning filmmaker, musician, and digital health entrepreneur in the San Francisco Bay Area. She started college at 12, went to medical school at 16, and became a board-certified, practicing pediatrician at age 23. Her passion for innovating a better healthcare system inspired her to launch DoctoRec, a digital media company that delivers short and highly engaging online health education videos in both the clinical setting and on a patient’s computer, tablet or phone. She believes that by giving patients an accessible, physician-vetted tool to understand their health better, they’ll have more meaningful relationships with their doctors and enjoy the health they deserve.
Louise Sloan - Louise Sloan is founder of Singlewith.com, a content, social networking and dating site for single moms and dads. She’s part of this large, under-served market herself: “Knock Yourself Up,” Louise’s 2007 book on becoming a single mom by choice, garnered international media attention. As an editor-in-chief, Louise has produced magazines for clients like Target, Nordstrom, GlaxoSmithKline and Dr. Phil. She’s written and edited for numerous mass-market publications including Glamour, Out, Ms., Health.com and Ladies’ Home Journal. Of the national awards she’s won, she’s perhaps proudest of the one from the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association for her 1994 Glamour article, “Do Ask, Do Tell: Lesbians Come Out at Work,” and of the GLAAD award nomination for a 2010 Ladies’ Home Journal feature on gay teens and bullying.
Kate Atkinson - Kate Atkinson is co-founder and Head of Product, at datasnap.io a measurement and reporting platform that delivers insight into proximity triggered engagement. datasnap’s core focus is on the emerging iBeacon space, but will draw upon other location signal as well as contextual data so that marketers, developers and business users can make sense of how people interact with real, brick and mortar spaces and why. Prior to starting datasnap Kate was VP of product and design at Metaresolver before it was acquired by Millennial Media where she headed up reporting and UX.
Darla Hollander Darla Hollander is CEO, Co-founder, and Power Engineer at Everywhere Energy. She founded the company on the idea that energy you exert yourself can be used to power your devices. Everywhere Energy has developed an external battery pack that is charged by walking and the company sees this as the first step to designing products that gather energy from many other aspects of life. For the past 7 years, Darla has gained a plethora of experience in the field of power, engineering many sections of the power grid. Her background includes wind and natural gas-sourced power generation, substations, power distribution, and power electronics. Darla is currently in her sixth year of school at the University of Texas and will earn a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in May 2015. After graduation, she plans to continue to fulfill a passionate life growing Everywhere Energy full time.
Dedra Chamberlin - Dedra Chamberlin is CEO and Co-founder of Cirrus Identity, a cloud-hosted digital identity company that enables quick and easy access to university services through the use of social identities (Google, Twitter, Facebook). Dedra has led digital identity strategy at leading universities, including UC Berkeley and UCSF, and chaired the workgroup which sets identity strategy for the University of California system. She has participated in numerous nation-wide identity strategy workgroups and speaks regularly at higher ed IT conferences. Dedra knows the pain points of identity in higher ed because she’s lived them, and as leader of Cirrus Identity, she is bringing innovative, easy-to-integrate solutions to educational institutions around the globe.
Sandra Elliott Sandra Elliott is the Director of Consumer Technology and Service Development with Meridian Health. Her role is to develop new technology based services and business ventures targeting population segments such as the boomer and aging populations. While aggressively employing new approaches to understanding the health and wellness needs of consumers, technological applications are aggressively evaluated as a new method to meet those needs. As a result, Meridian Health is creating innovative connections with individuals in the market. She has been instrumental in defining opportunities to work with innovative companies and begin to understand how home or person-based technology can be integrated into a health delivery system. Her most recent role as the Executive Director of a new startup company, iMPak Health, is a good example of how she and the team at Meridian Health are translating new understanding into new business opportunities. Sandra is a national speaker and published many articles in developing opportunities for growing business in publications such as Trustee Magazine, Journal of Healthcare Financial Management, FutureAge, Hospitals and Health Networks, and the Health Strategist.
Bonny Lai Bon is CTO & Co-Founder of Roost, a trusted marketplace for people to list and rent storage or parking space in their homes. Bon started a career in product management and is a driving force behind Roost’s product vision and technical strategy. When not behind a computer, Bon enjoys the outdoors with her Klee Kai.
Máire Walsh - Máire P. Walsh is a Partner and VP, Sales & Marketing at Next Steps Marketing, a company that specializes in building and monetizing audiences for media and tech companies. In this role, she helps guide content strategy, develops audience and monetization models, and oversees marketing efforts across multiple platforms (desktop, mobile, and tablet) for clients and their partners.
Prior to Next Steps, Máire went from managing circulation for Curve magazine to leading a team that helped build retail sales and partnerships for over 70 national magazines at the Independent Press Association. She has been featured in Folio, Audience Marketing, Media Shepherd, The Irish Times, and Yahoo Finance and is a regular speaker at media industry conferences.
Máire is the former two-term President of Exceptional Women in Publishing (EWIP), a national organization dedicated to mentoring, educating and supporting women in media. Each year, EWIP hosts an annual Women’s Leadership Conference that brings together leading women executives in media and tech to share insights and best practices on new content and business models in publishing. Máire is a native of Ireland, loves squash and soccer, and has an MBS from National University of Ireland, Galway.
Steph Smith - “Looking back on my career path, I really am amazed and very fortunate. I was able to connect and teach History and Civics to high school students struggling with behavioral and emotional obstacles. The Anthropologist in me was fascinated by how my students learned best and identified with various historical icons. Joan of Arc, Sitting Bull, Sandra Day O’Connor to name a few. Teaching taught me a lot about myself and my potential.
After a few years of teaching I decided to explore the massive nonprofit sector of Washington, DC. Still very much interested in education, I started working with a large trade association with the focus on education and development. From there I helped one of the nation’s largest capacity building organizations with marketing and membership campaigns. It was there at the Center for Nonprofit Advancement that I was given two golden nuggets of advice by my boss, an openly gay woman and the longest standing Executive Director at the organization. First, “work smarter not harder” and second, “remember that what makes each of us different is what makes each of us valuable.”
When I relocated to Austin in 2009 and started working with the State Bar of Texas this advice was just as helpful. I was tasked with educating folks of all walks of life, backgrounds, and socio-economic levels on the importance of having access to the legal system. From there I went to Project Transitions and was afforded the opportunity of creating more visibility for the organization and more awareness for HIV/AIDS.
Now with L Style G Style, I feel like Goldielocks and the Three Bears because finally things are just right. I look forward to helping Alisa and Lynn make more connections for L Style G Style and for our community…and beyond. I am also looking forward to getting to know our readers and our supporters.”
Eilish McCaffrey - Eilish McCaffrey is an accomplished startup CEO/cofounder and active mentor to International and U.S incubators with an expertise in all Software and Infrastructure technologies. She has over 30 years in business development, sales/marketing, commercial product development; and venture/incubation. She has raised well over $50M in the course of being senior management in startups, consultants to early stage startups and as a Venture Partner. Her focus today is doing what she enjoys, which is leveraging her experience in helping other early stage companies with whatever might be their next growth objectives.
Eilish is also active as a non profit board member and currently sits on the board of http://www.ahomewithin.org that helps children. She began her non profit work over 15 years ago as advisor and mentor to ASTIA companies, an international women lead business incubator. She supports other non profits that focus on areas such as healthcare, women/children, education and her local community.
Eilish holds a Masters of Science Degree, Summa Cum Laude, Software Engineering, and a Bachelors of Science, Mathematics\Computer Science and Chemistry, from Manhattan College of NYC also Summa Cum Laude.
On a more personal side, Eilish is certified, through the American College of Sports Medicine, and provides coaching to colleagues and friends on wellness and nutrition. She enjoys integrating the technology of emerging Healthcare models of application, delivery and support with her wellness focus where possible.
Anne Moellering - Anne Moellering of WaveWorks Coaching is an Executive Leadership & Career Coach with a 20-year background in the business world of Silicon Valley. Having begun her career as a management consultant for Bain and Company, Anne moved into consumer marketing after receiving an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Within the marketing world, her posts ranged from being the Director of marketing for video game giant Sega and Account Director for Electronic Arts to being VP of Marketing for Planet Out & Gay.com and Chief Marketing Officer for TaskRabbit.
As a coach, Anne specializes in Executive leadership development, team effectiveness and career transition coaching. Her clients range from rising stars with rapidly expanding scopes of responsibility to executive team members, start-up founders and CEOs. Anne works with individuals and teams across a wide range of organizations including eBay, Facebook, Google, Evernote, Intel, Nerd Wallet, Bain & Company, McKinsey & Company, Stryker, Genentech, Sift Science and Prospect Sierra School. In addition, Anne is a talented and energizing speaker and workshop leader.
Anne graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College with a degree in Economics and then earned her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She holds certifications from both the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and Team Coaching International.
Anne is based in San Francisco and, when not coaching, can often be found happily surfing somewhere off the coast of Northern California.
Donna Bonifield Donna is a visionary technology entrepreneur and 20+year software industry veteran. In 1994 Donna co-founded GENUUS, a social software studio to bring A.I. to life. Her role as Chief Visionary Officer (CVO) is to provide leadership in all aspects of company operations, including production, business development, strategy, and executive management. Prior to GENUUS Donna joined Broderbund’s Living Books division in 1990 when it was less than 5 people; she spent four year
s there in production roles culminating in Technical Creative Director. From her Disney background she created the Living Books production methodology that led to a $15 million Random House / Broderbund Software joint venture.
Anne Dorman - Anne has served as Consulting CFO to venture backed companies since 1986. Early in her career, Anne founded three successful companies before joining Arthur & Young (predecessor to Ernst & Young) and was a member of the founding team for the firm’s Entrepreneurial Services Group. In addition to advising high growth companies, Anne runs a small business tax and consulting practice.
Heather Hiles Heather Hiles is the founder and CEO of Pathbrite, the world’s leading Portfolio Learning Platform. Launched in 2012, the company currently supports more than 500 schools, colleges, universities, and organizations in the United States. Headquartered in San Francisco, with an increasingly global footprint, Pathbrite’s portfolio platform is poised to reshape learning, teaching and assessment across the globe.
Kim Frank Consummate advisor to entrepreneurs, startups and technology companies ranging in size from the garage to Fortune 100. Kim has built businesses from the ground up and through a mix of internal innovation, mergers & acquisitions, strategic alliances and fundraising. With her broad executive and technology expertise, Kim has identified and negotiated more than 60 acquisitions and alliances ranging from $2M to $5B.
Kathy Hutton - Kathy’s diverse background includes roles in operations, strategy, sales, and client services. She knows how to get things done and build trusted relationships. Her start-up experience ranges from launching San Francisco’s award winning Residential Recycling program to building a tech business – twice. One was acquired by Cardinal Health, the other is rapidly expanding in the hot Internet of Things market. Kathy also led an environmental non-profit as Executive Director, successfully restructuring the organization and securing a $9M service contract. Today, she is focused on helping women grow their businesses and recently joined DoubleShot Creative, a boutique marketing agency, as VP of Strategy. She’s also helping a friend abandon her corporate gig as a Financial Planner to hang out her own shingle. Kathy has a B.S. in Business from Ithaca College and lives in Sausalito. She works hard so she can play hard and twice left it all behind to sail across the Pacific, summit Kilimanjaro, trek Tibet, snorkel in the Maldives and Seychelles, and catch waves in Bali and Australia. Her next start-up will most likely involve adventure travel.
Carol Nast - Carol Nast is the founder and President of Enterprise Catalyst Group, Inc, a consultancy serving the medical products and life science industries. Previously Carol was Chief Operating Officer of NuGen technologies, Vice President of Manufacturing for Inhale Therapeutics and has held other executive level positions at Syntex, BioRad and Pfizer. Carol has broad experience with biologics, drug delivery, medical diagnostics and devices and has extensive and diverse insight into developing and commercializing new medical products and technologies. Throughout her career, Carol has worked with large global multinational companies and venture backed early stage companies with emerging technologies.
Google says more than 1,000 of its employees are slated to participate,Apple recently sent a memo encouraging all of its employees to partake in the event, and Facebook told CNBC that it expects over 800 employees to attend.
Former congressman Barney Frank, one of the parade’s guests of honor, told CNBC that tech companies are smart to support the gay pride parade in today’s competitive business environment. Frank said, “If you get a reputation for not being supportive of fair treatment, it is a handicap in your recruitment.”
Jonathan Lovitz, the director of communications for StartOut, a non-profit supporting aspiring LGBT entrepreneurs, said participating in the parade is great “for retaining and finding the best talent; for finding the best partnerships domestically and globally; and also encouraging the people within their organizations to step up and become the first generation of openly gay CEOs in the tech industry.”
“We know that our community is capable of producing openly gay actors, politicians and athletes, but now is the time for tech to continue creating opportunities for openly LGBT business leaders,” he said.
The LGBT community and tech have had a long-standing relationship in advancing their success.
“Look at what social media has done specially to help us advance our causes, so I think there’s no surprise here that major organizations like Facebook and Twitter and Google, have been such allies of the community,” he said.
Last year’s parade, the largest in North America and the second largest in the world, attracted more than 1.5 million people and another 400,000 viewers through a webcast. At least 15 Silicon Valley tech companies are expected to participate.
Carla McKay spent much of her career in the corporate world working in sales and client management, when she decided to transform her passion for wine into a business.
She was taking a class about wines at the Culinary Institute of America — where students sometimes sampled 50 wines in a day — when McKay was struck with an idea for an app that could organize details about many wines in a way that was easy to navigate and share with friends. However, McKay had never started a business and didn’t know where to start.
“I had this concept in mind, but wasn’t even aware what it would take to make it a company,” said McKay who is now the CEO and founder of Crushed, a social mobile app based in San Francisco. Her business raised $450,000 in seed money, scored a partnership with Yelp and has seven employees. “It was just an idea in my head when I heard that StartOut was about to start a lesbian mentorship program and I thought this could be a great way to get my company started.”
StartOut is a national nonprofit organization that aims to strengthen the lesbian gay bisexual transgender business community, provide resources to entrepreneurs and raise their visibility. Founded in 2009, StartOut now has chapters in Austin, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Denver.
StartOut and similar groups signal how the needs of the gay community are evolving. For much of the last 50 years, many groups were focused on health issues, politics and social activism. As laws, regulations and public opinion have shifted toward more equality, there isgreater demand for gay groups that offer ways to boost economic development and nurture aspiring entrepreneurs. StartOut been successful doing this and has moved quickly to provide more services to more business people.
In 2012, StartOut launched a program within its organization called the Lesbian Entrepreneur Mentoring Program.
Marie Trexler, who heads program, has played matchmaker to 21 pairs of mentors and mentees and is vetting 100 mentee applicants for the incoming class.
“When we asked lesbians what they wanted from StartOut it was loud and clear: mentorship,” said Trexler who has been on the StartOut board for four years. “I just started the mentorship program with my personal rolodex and any time I met another business woman that impressed me, I asked if she would be interested in being a mentor and most said yes.”
McKay’s mentor, Esther Orioli, started her own management consulting business, Essi Systems, 31 years ago. She knows the value of a program like this because she couldn’t find anything like it when she started out.
“When I decided to start my company, I was a member of business and women’s groups that proved to be rather useless,” said Orioli. “And I think that women mentoring women and lesbians mentoring one another is so valuable because there are certain challenges, struggles and concerns that can be addressed when other matches could not handle that as easily.”
McKay said that her business would not have the seed money, partnerships (including one with Yelp) and its seven employees it has today without guidance from the program and Orioli. But that doesn’t mean that all 21 matches produced 21 new business. Trexler and Oriloi point out that not all mentor relationship provide the same level of success.
“Not every business plan works out and sometime hearing that from someone who has been down that road is more valuable than help with a business plan,” said Orioli, who previously was a board member for the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center for many years. “But having someone that you can help access resources with and stumble without judgment is the helping hand a lot of women really need to get out of the date.”
Currently the StartOut mentorship program is lesbian-focused and San Francisco-centric due to resources. Trexler says she has connected some mentees in New York, Austin, Washington D.C., Atlanta and Boston and hopes to eventually offer full programs in these cities.
“Once we have our online platform up and running, we can make this a reality,” said Trexler. “The point is not that gays don’t need mentoring, but rather that lesbian entrepreneurs place a higher value on it. We responded to the needs of one of our LGBT constituencies.”
by: Krystal Peak, Social engagement manager-San Francisco Business Times
Mark your calendars for the Third Annual StartOut Awards, to highlight and celebrate exceptional and innovative entrepreneurs in the LGBT Community!
On Thursday, September 11th, 2014, StartOut will once again honor entrepreneurs and business leaders for their accomplishments and personal commitments to both the entrepreneurial and LGBT communities.
This years evening’s festivities will include a cocktail reception, awards ceremony and dinner, and an exclusive keynote interview with the recipient of the 2014 Leadership Award. Each award will recognize exceptional entrepreneurs for their vision, leadership and achievement in entrepreneurship, and for providing inspiration to the LGBT community.
Award categories include:
Leadership Award, recognizing someone who has demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit in leading the community forward
Advocate Award, recognizing a champion for LGBT business leadership
Disruptor Award, recognizing an innovator who is revolutionizing an industry
Next Generation Award, recognizing a young entrepreneur of great accomplishment
Location TBA in San Francisco, CA
Grant Zallis was a little surprised when his friend, James Bain, asked him to launch a Chicago chapter of StartOut, a group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender entrepreneurs.
“I just assumed it already existed,” said Mr. Zallis, vice president for operations atInContext Solutions, a Chicago-based software maker.
Despite having a large LGBT community, Chicago didn’t have a chapter of StartOut, which launched in New York and San Francisco in 2009. Mr. Bain, a Chicagoan who heads up sales at Baltimore-based online-parking locator Parking Panda, is a member of StartOut’s national board. The group has chapters in Boston, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.
Mr. Zallis got to work with Timo Kim of Chicago’s Pritzker Group and tech-sales executive Mary Shea, helping launch the Chicago chapter earlier this year, along with financial-tech executive Joel Bosch and MBA student Natasha Shore.
“Chicago was a natural,” Mr. Zallis said. “It’s got a fast-growing tech and entrepreneurial center. The LGBT community is established: It doesn’t churn the way it does in other cities.”
The group hosted its first event at Chicago-based Groupon Inc. in February, and it’s holding another gathering on May 15 at InContext.
“We’re planning to do events every six weeks,” Mr. Zallis said.
Follow John on Twitter at @JohnPletz.
By Nellie Bowles
At last night’s StartOut gay entrepreneurs demo event, queer tech founders competed for venture capital attention in a warehouse in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood.
Entrepreneurs from 10 startups pitched to VCs including Dave McClure from 500 Startups and Andy Wheeler from Google Ventures. No one was granted money that night, but organizer Chris Sinton said the exposure to venture capitalists and other founders — nearly 200 showed up to watch — would help get the ball rolling for the companies.
StartOut and other minority affinity groups have grown this year, as more tech entrepreneurs, frustrated with the venture capital old boys’ networks, are looking to cultivate their own.
Michael Witbrock, who sits on the board of StartOut, watched from the back of the room. The next step in gay activism, he argued, will be through helping the gay community in Silicon Valley become richer and more powerful.
“There are things money can do that nothing else can,” said Witbrock, the vice president of research at artificial-intelligence company Cycorp. “This is a means for us as a community to empower ourselves financially. It’s about building people who have the resources to defend the community, who have the resources to buy those who would discriminate.”
So advancing gay rights is about money now?
“We don’t just need a place at the table,” Witbrock said. “Sometimes you need to buy the table.”