The New American Tech Founder

Blog Post
Aug. 8, 2017
Continuing our series of inspiring stories from speakers at #RiseLocal, this week's blog is authored by New America CA Fellow, Wayne Sutton, Co-Founder & CTO at Change Catalyst. 

If I told you there was a group of people ready to solve some of America’s most pressing issues, would you meet them? If you knew there was a group of tech founders who provide higher returns, with companies that generate more profits, would you invest?

This group of tech founders I’m referring to represents more than 51% of the population, has over a trillion dollars in buying power, and is increasingly impacting the world’s economies. Yet, somehow, they are the least funded demographic.

Who am I talking about? I’m talking about women, African Americans, Latinos, and other underrepresented individuals––essentially anyone who is not a white male.

Despite significant contributions to the tech ecosystem, the statistics for funding non-white male founders are abysmal:

  • Women-led companies receive less than 5% of all Venture Capital funding

  • African American and Latinos founders only receive 1% of Venture Capital funding

  • Just 0.2 percent of funding goes to black women founders

  • Tech companies led by mostly white male founders receive over 97% of all Venture Capital funding

But in the next five years those numbers are going to change. The buying power of members of these groups is growing and can’t be ignored. Furthermore, as technology continues to democratize opportunities and innovation, the cost to launch the next Salesforce, Twitter, or Warby Parker has dropped tremendously. The next great startup or innovative idea could come from any city in America.

I know this because I’ve seen it and lived it. I’ve worked with hundreds of underrepresented tech founders and I’ve heard their stories. The good news is that you will soon have an opportunity to hear their stories too.

In 2017, the Change Catalyst team is traveling across America interviewing underrepresented tech founders. America needs to hear their stories, you need to hear their stories, and future entrepreneurs need to hear their stories.

If these stories are not heard, and if we don’t invest in the ideas and companies behind these stories, we could have 1984 all over again. in 1984, the number of women with computer science jobs was at its peak. And then the glorification of the white male CEO in tech came along, and the numbers have been dropping ever since.

What Happened to Women In Computer Science?

What happened In 1984?

  • Apple's Macintosh commercial aired during the Super Bowl in 1984

  • Steve Jobs officially launched the Macintosh PC

  • Michael Dell launched Dell Computer

  • Bill Gates was on the cover of Time Magazine

  • And Mark Zuckerberg was born (he started late but still. . .)

The bottom line is that we need more women and underrepresented role models as tech founders. Change Catalyst is doing its part to make that happen.

Because we believe in driving an inclusive future, Change Catalyst is traveling to 12 cities across America to redefine what it means to be a tech entrepreneur. We’re hosting Tech Inclusion Conferences and Forums to change the tech ecosystem so that it is a more inclusive industry for everyone.

We believe that you can succeed no matter your race, gender, or sexual preference; that if you have a visible or invisible disability you have the same opportunity as everyone else; and that your military experience is just as valued as having gone to an Ivy League school.

We believe in building an inclusive tech industry that creates innovative solutions for everyone,  that will thrive in local communities, and that will fuel the American economy. That’s the tech industry we’re working to create!

Will you join us on this journey?

Check back every other Tuesday for a new story of local innovation, #RiseLocal. Next up, Robin Mencher, Executive Director of Education at KQED.