On Tuesday August 4, 2015 President Obama hosted the first-ever White House Demo Day.
The Demo Day was a chance for 90 entrepreneurs from over 30 diverse companies across the country to share their entrepreneurial journey.
Conversations centered around empowering underrepresented entrepreneurs and encouraging venture capital firms and Tech Giants to invest women and minority groups. As it currently stands The White House says about 3 percent of U.S. startups backed by venture capital are led by women, and about 1 percent are headed by African-Americans.
“We’ve got to make sure that everybody is getting a fair shot— the next Steve Jobs might be named Stephanie or Esteban,” Obama said. “We’ve got to unleash the full potential of every American— not leave more than half the team on the bench.”
The event opened the doors for communication, while inspiring diversity in America’s startup culture and economy. It also included strong calls to action to both the public and private sectors.
On the public side of things, the administration has been working with over 40 venture capital firms (including but not limited to A16Z, Intel Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, and Scale Venture Partners) that collectively have more than $100 billion under management, and are committing to new hiring practices that advance opportunities for minorities.
“You actually can make better-informed and more profitable investment decisions with a diverse team,” he said. “This isn’t about social justice alone. This is about social justice and making more money.” said said Ray Leach, chief executive of JumpStart
Tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook also pledged to foster inclusion in the tech space, announcing new plans to boost hiring of women and minorities, as well as additional innovative approaches.
For example; Google announced it will be hosting it’s first ever Women’s Demo Day later this year. The event will feature women-led startups from around the country pitching to a group of judges at the Googleplex. Meanwhile, IBM is committing to expanding its partnership with Girls Who Code to empower the next generation of female software developers.
The United States has always been a melting pot of opportunity, attracting and highlighting diverse talent and entrepreneurial skill-sets. In the 21st century a successful “marriage” between the U.S. government, Startup tech industries , VC firms, and entrepreneurs has the power to bring the American Dream to life in ways previously unprecedented.