For many years, talented and ground-breaking LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs have fought for equality in employment and business development. They have shared not only their technical expertise and business acumen, but their personal stories and journeys. They’ve offered the next generation of entrepreneurs an example of what true equality and excellence in business can look like.
In recognition of their continued efforts, we’re excited to share five inspiring LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and the SaaS companies they’re building this Pride month. They’re bringing solutions to the market that make the world a safer, fairer, and more diverse place.
Cyber security isn’t just for large and enterprise companies. For easily-targeted SMBs with revenue under $100m, the need for protection from hackers, phishing, and ransomware is considerable. Even smaller companies need full-scale protection. For example, the average cost of recovery from a ransomware attack is over $1.8m, with over half such attacks being beyond the internal IT capabilities of the company, according to Sophos.
That’s the mission of Zeguro, the 2016 startup co-founded by Sid Gavirneni and Dan Smith with a goal to make sensitive data more secure for entities such as law firms, medical professionals, retailers, and other companies that store and use customer and financial data.
The platform offers more than just monitoring. It informs clients on best practices, and has created an insurance product tailored to the needs of SMBs. The platform also meets regulatory needs for a variety of industries and applications such as SOC and HIPAA.
Zeguro has caught the attention of both early-stage accelerators and institutional investors for its unique market position and holistic approach to risk monitoring and mitigation. In 2018, the company received $5m in investment from Mosaik Partners, joined by Healthy Ventures, Munich Re / HSB Ventures, QBE Ventures, Social Capital, Plug and Play, and Sparkland Capital.
As the saying goes, “If you have a brain, you have bias.”
The shortcuts our brains take in making decisions and segmenting information may be benign, but it’s not always harmless. This can be especially true in hiring, where unconscious bias may disadvantage candidates and keep companies from finding the best talent.
In hiring as a whole and tech in particular, unconscious bias has been cited as leading to less-diverse teams. This trend can become a hiring issue, as many younger workers cite corporate diversity as a compelling reason to join a company.
This led founder Stephanie Lampkin to create Blendoor, a social impact analytics company focused on diversity hiring. The Blendoor platform anonymizes applicant details that might trigger unconscious biases in hiring managers, showing them only details relevant to the process.
The result is a hiring process that relies solely upon the skills, qualifications, and experiences of the individual. Not only does it result in better hiring outcomes—it has the desirable effect of creating more diverse teams overall.
Building a diverse workforce and team culture is an intentional process. It requires insight into your contributors, cultivation of leadership, and visibility into the gaps. All of these goals require mentorship and on-going support. This is the mission of Werkin, a tech-enabled, algorithmic platform that “focuses on mentorship as a driver of inclusivity.”
Founder Hayley Sudbury began work on this support-focused approach after spending the first part of her career in finance. She recognized gaps in the availability of mentorship that looked like her: a gay woman in the upper ranks of the corporate world.
Sudbury understood that a truly inclusive workplace required inclusivity at all levels of an organization, so in providing companies with the tools and a plan to get there, she was creating the world she wanted to see for fellow women and LGBTQ+ professionals. This led her to leave corporate life behind in order to focus on solid solutions.
Rather than just create a personal network for underserved professionals, Sudbury saw how tech could improve the mentorship process.
It made diversity efforts scalable by making progress and outcomes measurable. It also allowed companies more visibility into their diversity efforts, so they could move beyond initiatives to actually improve their diversity profile and offerings.
4. Join It
Memberships and interest-based organizations fuel creativity and connection. Whether it’s the charity softball league, a church-based membership, or a community preservation society, people find and define themselves within these groups.
Managing the dues, schedules, and communications of membership groups can be confusing, time-intensive, and expensive. Mitch Colleran, a former developer and Project Owner for Eventbrite, found a way to change that.
Through conversations with leaders during his time at the event coordination platform, Mitch came to understand that the available solutions didn’t match the needs of small organizations and nonprofits. He saw a space where he could improve things.
Colleran built Join It to serve the leaders of paid membership communities and non-profits with a cloud-based, integrated tool. The platform gives them the full functionality they need, without the extras they don’t. He bootstrapped the platform development in order to help these important spaces focus on the value they offered, rather than the logistics of keeping the club running.
So far, the company has helped over 1,000 small orgs harness the power of the cloud to keep their communities running smoothly.
5. Backstage Capital
“More than $1.5 trillion was invested by VC firms globally from 2010 to 2019, but less than 1% of funding deals go to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs” according to Entrepreneur.
Knowing that the odds are against underserved and LGBTQ+ founders, self-starter VC Arlan Hamilton built Backstage Capital with the purpose of serving women, minority, and LGBTQ+ founders to build diversity in entrepreneurship.
Hamilton herself knows the labor and uncertainty that go into building a business. The founder was “homeless and sleeping on an airport floor” when she first set out to become the “Robin Hood of Venture Capital.”
The fund now has over $5m in assets under management, with a recent announcement of a $36m seed fund built exclusively to serve black women entrepreneurs. The fund’s portfolio boasts 170 investments in promising enterprises, including fellow list member Blendoor.
Source: Fast Company