According to the 2017 Kauffman State of Entrepreneurship report, entrepreneurs are 80 percent white and 64.5 percent male — numbers that aren’t reflective of the U.S. population. Minorities own half as many businesses as non-minorities, and those businesses stay smaller. This diversity gap certainly costs us — if minorities started companies at the same rate as non-minorities, the U.S. would add as many as 9.5 million extra jobs to the economy.
To address these issues, a number of new partners have committed to a partnership with The Startup Runway Foundation, a nonprofit organization co-hosted by female-led Atlanta venture capital firm Valor Ventures and professional club The Gathering Spot. Startup Runway aims to connect minority-led tech startups with seed stage investors.
These new partners include The Atlanta Hawks, a team that has made its commitment to diversity and inclusion apparent by adding to its roster the sports world’s first-ever Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and a 20-member diversity Council.
“Our brand promise is to entertain and unite the city,” says Melissa Proctor, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena. “In supporting great organizations like the Startup Runway Foundation, it ensures that we not only help foster the entrepreneurial spirit that is so prevalent in Atlanta, but that we embrace concepts and ideas from people of all walks of life that fully reflect our organization, fans, and neighbors as we strive daily to meet that goal.”
Other partners include tech recruiter Spencer Stuart, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Connetic Ventures, startup payroll service OnPay, and digital marketing agency Write2Market. Partners provide financial contributions towards the Startup Runway Showcase, a $10,000 strings-free prize to the top startup.
“The business of venture capital is funding innovation. Most innovation comes from the edges. Valor is committed to finding high-performance innovators often overlooked by the traditional coastal venture capital ecosystem,” says Lisa Calhoun, Managing Partner of Valor Ventures.