(Photo by Roberto Torres)
How many Uber XLs would you need to transport all the female founders of color who’ve raised over $1 million in venture capital? Just five, with two empty seats.
The fact that women of color end up getting less than 1 percent of total VC dollars was one of many topics of conversation at Introduced by Technical.ly, the all-day conference that put 100 speakers under one roof (and a party tent) at Old City’s Science History Institute.
To say it was a packed day is an understatement.
In all honesty: We, too, are still reeling from all the content. From the future of healthcare and the inequities of the modern entrepreneurship landscape, here are a few big-picture ideas that stuck with us after Philly Tech Week 2018 presented by Comcast wrapped up over the weekend.
1. There’s a business case for upending systemic inequality in venture capital.
As it turns out, venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton — the founder of Backstage Capital, which invests in minority-founded startups — had big news under wraps during her Philly visit: she raised $36 million to fund Black female entrepreneurs $1 million at a time.
“They’re calling it a ‘diversity fund,'” Hamilton tweeted Sunday. “I’m calling it an IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME fund.”
Her message in a panel of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs — like Black Girl Ventures founder Shelly Bell, Franklin Park’s Narayan Chowdhury and Dr. Cat McManus — was loud, unapologetic and clear: Investing in founders from underrepresented groups is the right thing to do, but it’s also a huge economic opportunity.
And while her investment thesis focuses on opportunities and inclusion, a point Hamilton made clear was that her firm is focused on getting results from the 92 companies it has invested in thus far. Like most investors, Hamilton’s day-to-day involves shutting down entrepreneurs if the business case isn’t there.
2. Mayor Kenney’s next stage in his approach to the tech community is not about him.
Jim Kenney is aware of the ceremonial side of his job. And he’s got that part down when it comes to engaging with Philly’s growing tech community: It’s easy to catch Kenney at events like Entrepreneur Expo or Philly Startup Leaders pitch competitions. Ask him what the next move is and he’ll point to StartUp PHL’s second fund, aimed at deploying $3.5 million to local startups.
“StartUp PHL 2 is beginning,” Kenney said in a jam-packed room at Introduced. “And then it’s just about keeping on it: keep expanding our IT department and keep getting people that are extremely competent and can interact with the community at large.”
3. Breaking down academic silos starts with people, not institutions.
For Dr. Bon Ku, the JeffDesign director who asks doctors to think like designers, knowledge silos in healthcare must be broken for innovation to thrive in Philadelphia, where the gravitational pull of institutions like the Penn, CHOP and Jefferson can be mighty.
One way to break past them, Ku said in a panel on the future of healthcare, is to engage collaboration at a personal level, more so than institutionally. The doctor, himself a Penn grad, said suggesting colleagues from other institutions for speaking gigs is one way to tackle that.
4. Immigrants have unique insight into the startup world.
Former City of Philadelphia official Archna Sahay, now with the consulting firm of former Willam Penn Foundation chief Jeremy Nowak, hit the nail on the head with this line about immigrant founders’ advantage when it comes to starting a business:
Quote of the year for me, personally, by @ArchnaSahay:
"Being an immigrant is like being a startup."
— Roberto Torres (@TorresLuzardo) May 3, 2018
For context, here are a dozen Philly-based founders who can attest to that.
5. Forget everything you know about going to the doctor.
On the future of healthcare, things will look very different 10 years from now. Look out for these trends in your future:
Trends for the next decade of healthcare?
? Continuity in patient data
? AI to reduce doctors' workload
— Technical.ly Philly (@TechnicallyPHL) May 3, 2018
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