Four Ways to Tip the Inclusive Entrepreneurship Movement

When Jessica O. Matthews, the founder and CEO of Uncharted Play, an energy tech startup, closed a $7 million investments last week she became just the 13th black female founder in history to raise more than $1 million in outside investment. She followed Morgan DeBaun of Blavity, considered to be the Buzzfeed for Millennials of color, and who became the 12th female founder to surpass $1 million raised only days before.

The numbers are stark. The Diana Project out of Babson College was the first to report that less than three percent of venture capital investments made go to companies with a woman CEO. CB Insights reports that fewer than one percent have an African American founder.

So why does this matter anyway? While it’s true there is a fairness issue at work here that should concern us all, it’s also true that the potential to bring new innovations and new economic activity to segments of the population that may need it most is a significant opportunity we should seize. But what will it take to level the playing field for all entrepreneurs—particularly women and entrepreneurs of color—but also those from less obvious places, geographically and economically diverse entrepreneurs from the nation’s heartland to Southern Africa to the West Bank?

recent report by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) offers a compelling framework through which to view and potentially tip the inclusive entrepreneurship movement. ICIC laid out a four-part framework to increase participation of women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color through more inclusive hubs that provide mentoring, training, networking and sometimes capital for entrepreneurs in their network. These hubs are known as incubators or accelerators. When looking at barriers to access and how to create effective on-ramps for diverse entrepreneurs, this framework is promising in both the accelerator space and the broader inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem.


Improving access to social capital through mentoring and networking with others who have found success will be key to accelerating the movement. Many successful accelerators or incubators rely on a competitive application process from applicants that find them. This often means that those living in underserved communities or outside of “power networks” don’t necessarily know about these pathways to opportunity. Adopting a strategy of intentional outreach to women and to people of color could change the ratio and ensure a more diverse pool of applicants. Kathryn Finney knows this firsthand. As the founder and Managing Director of digitalundivided, Kathryn invests in the success of Black and Latina women tech founders by providing them with the network, coaching and funding to build, scale and exit their high growth companies.


The ICIC report rightly points out that biases perpetuate the stereotype of what successful entrepreneurs look like which often impacts access to capital for women and entrepreneurs of color. This is often called “unconscious bias” which simply means that there is a pre-existing idea of what a successful entrepreneur looks like or where they come from. We’ve seen this in our own work with pitch competitions—where there is a more diverse judging panel we see a more diverse selection of winners, and it makes sense as these panels bring a broader perspective to the potential of underserved segments. And a more diverse selection panel can bring the benefit of putting the applicants more at ease and allowing them to be the best they can be when pitching their ideas. This point is one we can all understand—imagine how a young entrepreneur feels with a great idea if he/she is presenting to a panel of judges or an audience comprised entirely of a different gender or race/ethnicity. Of course, many young entrepreneurs have risen to the challenge for years since the data makes clear that most selection panels have been, and still are, comprised of white males, but it is common sense that if we want to grow the population of successful inclusive entrepreneurs, we might want to start by thinking about who is doing the selection.

On this point, Tristan WalkerCEO and co-founder of Walker and Co Brands, a company that designs and develops products and services specifically for people of color, demonstrated the power of building a company from personal experience when his company raised a $24 million Series B round in September 2015. But his experiences with white venture capitalists who doubted there was a market need for the new kind of razor he was creating for black men, taught him that context and perspective really matter when assessing great ideas for the market. In an interview with TIME Magazine, he commented: “I’m like, I get it but I don’t. All you had to do was get on the phone with 10 black men, and nine of them would have said, ‘I’ve had to deal with this my entire life.’ This is why I think folks talk about the need for more partners, the need for more folks in the industry because those folks come with the context.”

Program Design

Philanthropy is also in a unique position to bring significant support to ecosystem builders to ensure that the support services needed for entrepreneurs (both social capital and financial capital) exist. By building up networks and geographic hubs outside of Silicon Valley and across economic, gender and color lines, we can expand the opportunity for all entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to market—ideas like Jehiel Oliver’s Hello Tractor, an award winning ag-tech company focused on improving food and income security in several countries throughout Africa. We should also look to partnerships and programs that aim to reduce common barriers that diverse entrepreneurs face, and scale local pilots into national programs serving women and entrepreneurs of color, who have figured out the “secret sauce” to the kind of program design that builds success for inclusive entrepreneurs.


“The macho, exclusive, hyper-competitive culture of some high-tech accelerators is the image marketed and shared by media, creating perhaps the biggest deterrent to women and minority entrepreneurs,” says Janis Bowdler in TechCrunch. We absolutely must challenge the stereotypes and change the narrative on how our culture represents entrepreneurs across sectors. There are many remarkable stories of successful women and people of color who have built successful businesses, and we somehow need to build these stories more broadly into the narrative of the American entrepreneurship story. CEOs like Tristan Walker (mentioned above), or Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey, a pair of power moms who co-founded Revolution Foods*—a company on a mission to ignite a healthy food revolution for all children, whose business has now delivered more than 200 million healthy meals to our nation’s schoolchildren. Or Shazi Visram of Happy Family, a healthy baby food company acquired by Danone. With the acquisition, Shazi’s earliest investors realized a 30x return. Lifting up founders of diverse backgrounds will be key to ensuring that any individual with a great idea can see him or herself as the next great entrepreneur.

We need all individuals with breakthrough business ideas to have a seat at the table so that we can move more swiftly in tackling intractable global challenges, transforming communities, creating jobs, spurring economic growth and closing the opportunity gap. Maybe this framework is what’s needed to get all ecosystem builders—from accelerators, investors and incubators to founders and champions—to get much more intentional about leveling the playing field for all entrepreneurs in all places in order to create stronger communities. The U.S. has become the leader of the global economy because of great companies built by great entrepreneurs, but we’ve done it with half of the team left on the sidelines. We have an amazing opportunity to seize by getting everyone in the game.

*Disclosure: Steve Case is an investor in Revolution Growth II LP and Revolution Growth III LP, each of which is an investor in Revolution Foods. He is also on the Revolution Foods Board of Directors.


VIDEO: Inclusive Entrepreneurship at MCON 2016

 This post was written by Calvin Millien, Case Foundation intern.

At MCON 2016 this past June, one of the themes attendees explored was around inclusive entrepreneurship—lifting up all entrepreneurs, particularly women and people of color, in all places in order to create stronger communities, close the opportunity gap and scale creative solutions to persistent problems.

To delve into this subject, Derrick Feldmann, Founder of Achieve and MCON, hosted two special panelists: Karla Monterroso of Code2040, an organization that provides $40,000 to seven entrepreneurs of color determined to turn their ideas into reality; and Brian Ferguson of Start Line, an online platform designed to equip returning, formerly incarcerated citizens with the tools necessary to become active and entrepreneurial contributors to our society. Together, they discuss the entrepreneurial landscape and realities for Black and LatinX communities specifically. Hear their insights into how together, we can support inclusive entrepreneurship.

To see more from these great speakers, check out their exclusive Facebook Live interview with the Case Foundation’s own Jade Floyd.

Video: Georgetown Cupcake Founders At MCON 2016

This post was written by Calvin Millien, Case Foundation intern.

Each year, MCON, the Millennial Engagement Conference, through its array of dynamic speakers, has highlighted the many ways Millennials are making the world a better place. Whether they’re enlightening the audience on environmental conditions, discussing how to leverage arts for social good or inspiring others through their entrepreneurial endeavors, MCON speakers masterfully propel audiences to move from interest to action.

This year’s MCON was no exception thanks to speakers like “The Cupcake Sisters,” Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne. These shining examples of entrepreneurship, have scaled Georgetown Cupcake into a nationwide success. To provide a bit more insight on this growth, DC’s most famous bakers shared how passion, connection and impact have made this possible. Check it out here:

And if you just can’t get enough of these incredible entrepreneurial sisters, check out our behind the scenes Facebook Live interview with them.

50 Inclusive Entrepreneurship Champions You Should Be Following on Twitter

Earlier this week our CEO Jean Case shared the Case Foundation’s journey from understanding our work through the lens of our three pillars, or our main areas of interest, to distilling the core of what we do—catalyze movements around social innovation, tipping the scales from good intention to action.

As movement catalyzers, we are not creating a new program or issue area at the Foundation, but rather, are joining in and accelerating a movement that already has purpose, stakeholders and allies. For our newest movement around inclusive entrepreneurship, we have pulled up a seat at a table already populated with the inspiring entrepreneurs, savvy investors and dedicated ecosystem builders who seek to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color. Together, we are working to upend the bleak statistics regarding access to financial capital, risk tolerance and the cultural barriers faced by diverse entrepreneurs and create a new system that allows all individuals with innovative ideas to have access to the resources necessary to build, grow and scale their business.

In an effort to lift up these varied voices, ecosystem builders and entrepreneurs leading the inclusive entrepreneurship movement, we’ve curated a list of 50 inclusive entrepreneurship champions you should be following on Twitter. We know that this list is in no way exhaustive of the many incredible people doing work in this sector, but we hope this will give you a starting point to understand and join in the quest to create a level playing field for all entrepreneurs. If you want to shine a spotlight on others supporting this ecosystem, please let us know on Twitter using @CaseFoundation and the hashtag #Ent4All.

Follow the whole list below with one easy click. And don’t forget to keep in touch with the Case Foundation and our team! @CaseFoundation   @JeanCase   @SteveCase  @SaratKoch
(Full Team List)

Alejandra Castillo
The official Twitter feed of the United States Minority Business Development Agency National Director
Ari Horie
Founder of Women’s Startup Lab (@wslab) & MoChiGo
Backstage Capital
Venture capital fund investing in startups led by women, Black & Latinx, and LGBT founders. Contact = @ArlanWasHere
Blackstone Entrepreneurship Initiative
@Blackstone Entrepreneurship Initiative, powered by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Cultivating entrepreneurship and igniting job growth globally.
Carolyn Rodz
Founder of @CircularB, a #startup accelerator for #femalefounders. Mom of 2, wife of 1, entrepreneurial advocate & contributor to Fortune, HuffPo + Entrepreneur
Clare O’Connor
Staff writer at @Forbes, mostly covering women entrepreneurs and workplace equality. No plans to go camping.
Darius Graham
Director, Social Innovation Lab (@SIL_Baltimore) at @JohnsHopkins; Founder & Board Chair, @dcsocialinnov; Adjunct Professor, @GoucherCollege;#AnyoneAnInnovator
Defy Ventures
We are an entrepreneurship, employment, and leadership training program that serves people with criminal histories.
Derek T. Dingle
Sr. VP/Editor-in-Chief of @BlackEnterprise Magazine. Award-winning author. Co-founder, Milestone Media comic book co. Proud alum of Norfolk State U.
Diana Project
Diana International assembles researchers worldwide interested in women’s entrepreneurship
Duke I&E
Latest happenings from the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative.
Eutiquio Tiq Chapa
Program Manager: Stanford GSB Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative. Mobile UX/Behavior Designer. Democratizing info. PoliticsDonors. Educating billions. Crossfit.
Freada Klein
Founder of Level Playing Field Institute, investor in social impact startups, dog devotee
Hajj Flemings
Featured in @CNN’s Black in America 4. Founder of @BrandCampU. Founder of@RebrandDetroit a @knightfdn#knightcities project. #rebrandDetroit
Jade Floyd
Senior Director of Communications @CaseFoundation + @Revolution Venture Capital | Food + Wine + Design Addict
Johnathan Holifield
Author of Upcoming book on Inclusive Competitiveness, former NFL player, Keynote Speaker, Advisor & Consultant.
JumpStart Inc
We are a nationally recognized nonprofit that unlocks the full potential of diverse & ambitious entrepreneurs to economically transform entire communities.
Kapor Center
The Kapor Center is relentlessly pursuing creative strategies to leverage tech for positive, progressive change.
Kathryn Finney
Founder/Speaker/Investor/Wifer/Mother. @digundiv, @rewritethecode, #projectdiane, @budgetfashion (sold).
Kauffman Foundation
Fostering economic independence by advancing education & entrepreneurship. RTs ≠ endorsements.
Kesha Cash
General Partner @ Impact America Fund
Kimberly Bryant
Founder @BlackGirlsCode ~ White House Champion of Change ~ 2014 GOOD 100 / Find me here
Kirsten Saenz Tobey
founder & chief impact officer@revolutionfoods, mom, social entrepreneur, healthy food junkie, board member @netimpact and @mercaris
Latinas Think Big® is a global membership community and platform tailored to support and accelerate your career and ventures. Join us!
Laura Weidman Powers
Co-Founder/CEO @Code2040. Fellow @NewAmericaCA @EchoingGreen. Alum @StanfordBiz @StanfordLaw @Harvard.
Lemelson Foundation
Improving lives through invention
Lydia Dishman
Business journalist @FastCompany and others. Bronx native. @FordhamNotes alum. Tweets = mine. RTs not endorsements. Hearts = bookmarks or love, you choose.
Makinde Adeagbo
Founder of @devcolororg. Engineer at @Pinterest, @Dropbox & @Facebook. Husband to @iamawara.
Mandela SH
@KaporCapital helping tech startups succeed in biz, social impact and diversity | @Forbes 30Under30
Maria Contreras-Sweet
Official account of @POTUS @Cabinetmember Maria Contreras-Sweet,@SBAgov Administrator. Former CA Cabinet Secretary, community banker and entrepreneur.
Megan Rose Dickey
Reporter @TechCrunch covering diversity & inclusion and social justice. megan at techcrunch dot com
Monique Woodard
Venture Partner @500Startups // Founder & ED @blackfounders
Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center
The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center is designed to educate, innovate and connect aspiring & current entrepreneurs. Grow your ideas. Get inspired. Tell your story.
New Profit
#AdvanceEquity is a new digital dialogue series about equity and inclusion. Join us in advancing bold new ideas for systemic change:
Pamela Lewis
Executive Director of @neimichigan.
PowerMoves.NOLA is about creating power through opportunity – the opportunity of high growth minority Traditional & Tech Entrepreneurship.
Project Entrepreneur
Project Entrepreneur ignites bold ideas by providing women access to the tools, training and networks needed to build scalable, economically impactful companies
Regina Ann Campbell
A Lover of Detroit, all about people, place and purpose! Economic development working with small businesses, supporting entrepreneurs in the Detroit Region!
Rethink Impact
Investing in ecosystems of change
Ross Baird
Executive Director of @villagecapital; also teach at @UVA. Enable entrepreneurs to solve major global problems.
Salvador Rodriguez
@Inc Reporter covering tech, diversity, startups & entrepreneurs. Before w/@IBTimes, @LATimes. Let’s play air hockey. DM me
Sarah Koch
VP, Social Innovation @Casefoundation. Passionate about #ent4all, #nptech, #socent & gluten free baking.
Sheila Herrling
SVP Social Innovation @CaseFoundation; ex @MCCgov @CGDev @USTreasury Passionate about family, friends, fun, well articulated views, bourbon.
Talib Graves-Manns
@Black_WallSt + @LifeOnAutoPilot + Point AB. Code2040 + Google EIR + American Underground Durm. We replace question marks with periods. Tech. Innovation. VC.
Tory Burch Foundation
The official Tory Burch Foundation tweets.
Unshackled Ventures
An early stage venture fund created to support immigrant founders and economic value in the U.S.
Vanessa Dawson
All about The Vinetta Project
Vanessa K. De Luca
Editor-in-chief of ESSENCE@essencemag. Mom, wife, daughter, friend. Honored and blessed to serve Black women. IG: @vanmommy
William Crowder
Co-lead of @CVCatalyst, an early stage venture fund. | Partner at @Dreamit global startup accelerator.
Women in Venture
WxV is a network of traditional VC dealmakers, founded and run by the same.

*This list is provided for informational and educational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not indicate endorsement by the Foundation.

The Myth of the “E Word”

The Myth of the “E Word” is the sixth post in the Case Foundation’s Myth of the Entrepreneur series. This series is intended to intentionally examine, and change, the stories our culture tells about entrepreneurship. For more information on the Case Foundation’s approach to the Myth series and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, please check out our introductory piece. We encourage you to join the conversation using #Ent4All on Twitter.

*Special thanks to Calvin Millien, intern with the Case Foundation, for his contributions to this blog.

Our Myth of the Entrepreneur series has taken a hard look at how the mythology of entrepreneurship and the media portrayal of entrepreneurs have created an archetype and “face” of an entrepreneur that are so exclusive that they become barriers to diversifying entrepreneurship, both demographically—particularly women and entrepreneurs of color—and geographically—beyond Silicon Valley.

So far, we’ve explored the Myths of Isolation, Combat, Failure and STEM-only, and tried to bust the myths that may be marginalizing entire classes of entrepreneurs our society needs to help grow our economy and strengthen our communities. And over the past year, as I’ve engaged with women and entrepreneurs of color, I’ve had this nagging thought—what if the term “entrepreneur” itself is a barrier to both expanding and diversifying entrepreneurship? I hypothesize that the Silicon Valley entrepreneur stereotype that has become the go-to brand for entrepreneurs makes it harder for non-male, non-white, non-Silicon Valley based, non-technology based founders to self-identify as “entrepreneurs.”

I’ve accumulated plenty of anecdotal data that suggests that women in particular don’t self-identify as “entrepreneurs” as comfortably and confidently as men do, even when they have a much clearer idea of the problem they are solving for. “Well, I’m no Bill Gates,” is a common refrain. Or “Well, I didn’t invent Snapchat, I’m just running a café that employs at-risk youth.” Women have even come right out and written pieces like, “I’m Not a Real Entrepreneur,” which detail the ways they don’t fit into this stereotypical cultural mold, including how being a woman—especially a woman with children—excludes them from the category.

And then there’s the quantitative research: women are 2x less likely to perceive themselves as able to be entrepreneurs and hold themselves to a stricter standard of competence when compared to similarly situated men. This gender gap in self-assessment explains in part the gender gap in entrepreneurship.

Babson College has identified a multitude of factors that are affecting women’s entrepreneurship, but the codification of this vision of the successful male entrepreneur is a significant hurdle for women. Candida Brush states in Forbes:

“The male-gendering of entrepreneurship has been portrayed in the popular media for decades and even in academic case materials, where the protagonists of entrepreneurship cases are almost always male. The perpetuation of this gender stereotype means that because women do not fit the gender stereotype for ‘entrepreneur’ they face higher hurdles in starting, growing and sustaining their ventures.”

Look, It’s pretty easy to see why it might be hard for the word entrepreneur to feel inclusive. Google “top 10 entrepreneurs.” Here’s your image:

Google Results Entrepreneur

As human beings, we respond to the messages we receive from the world around us about who should take risks, who should assert themselves, who should lead. You can’t be what you can’t see, and so we need to break the mold, rewrite the narrative, Lean In, and change the face of the entrepreneur.

It just might be that intention to be inclusive in entrepreneurship may well be hindered by the exclusionary power of the word “entrepreneurship” itself. So, the impending question becomes, what is an alternative title? We’ve been throwing around a few here: Founder, Maker, Hustler. And then there are the more traditional roles that may bring a wider group to the table: CEO, Small-Business Owner.

Or maybe as Noah Kagan of AppSumo recommends, “instead of calling yourself an entrepreneur, focus on what you actually help people do” and let that be your “title.”

Are you an “entrepreneur” or someone who does the job but doesn’t feel the title? Share your ideas on alternates to the “e-word” and join the conversation at #Ent4All!

‪Innovation Madness: Champion

With UNC and Villanova duking it out for the men’s NCAA Championship, and Connecticut and Syracuse set to face off in the women’s playoff bracket, so too have we come to the end of our own March Madness. Over the last ten days you’ve played along with us as we sparked #InnovationMadness and directed the social media spotlight on 16, then eight and then four female innovators who have made big bets and made history. Thank you to everyone who voted throughout #InnovationMadness and helped to shine a light on the incredible accomplishments of these innovators.

Today, we’re ready to reveal the woman who inspired you the most with her story of perseverance and ingenuity: Marie Van Brittan Brown.


#InnovationMadness10: Marie Van Brittan Brown, creator of the home security system
Chosen by Jade Floyd, Senior Director of Communications
Today’s home security systems feature all the bells and whistles, from infrared cameras to home automation technology to electronic control of every light and lock. But did you know that the first modern-day home security closed-circuit television system (CCTV), alarm and entry buzzer to allow guests in was invented by Marie Van Brittan Brown in 1966? An uptick in crime in her neighborhood drove her to create the system so she would feel safer while at home alone. She invented the remote monitor and control-operated door that laid the groundwork for a now multi-billion dollar market, and she takes the championship place in our bracket today.


Marie Van Brittan Brown may be the overall winner here, but the 16 women we highlighted represent the countless other woman around the world who have, and continue to, break barriers, forge new pathways and ultimately create a better tomorrow for all of us as a result. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” and as we look for ways to lift up an inclusive and diverse set of entrepreneurs, we hope that #InnovationMadness has inspired you to think about how you can help level the playing field for all entrepreneurs—particularly women and people of color—in all places in order to create stronger communities, close the opportunity gap and scale creative solutions to persistent problems.

Learn more about the Foundation’s inclusive entrepreneurship efforts.

20 Best Quotes From SXSW Interactive

The Case Foundation team is back from whirlwind week at SXSW Interactive where we hosted a series of events and panels. Our time there was filled with dynamic sessions, learning from people who are truly changing the world.

From the opening day fireside chat with our founders Jean and Steve Case, who shared their roadmap for innovators and entrepreneurs in the rapidly evolving, “internet of everything” economy, to President Barack Obama’s conversation with Texas Tribune’s Editor Evan Smith on civic engagement in the 21st century, there was no shortage of inspiring and moving words spoken on SXSW stages. We heard narratives on the future of entrepreneurship that explored how we can cultivate more inclusive ecosystems, how news platforms are coping and capitalizing in the advent of social media, why the intersection between policy and technology is important and so much more.

While it’s impossible to capture everything that we heard in one blog post, we have pulled together a collection of tweets chronicling the best quotes from some of our favorite sessions at the conference.

And so, here are our top 20 quotes from SXSW, in tweet form and in chronological order.

From Jean and Steve Case: A Roadmap for Innovators:

1. “Startups are the seed corn of the future.” – Steve Case, Chairman of the Case Foundation

2. “Performance is higher when teams are diverse. Bring people into the mix who have been left out.” – Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation

3. “The intersection between policy and technology are increasingly important.” – Steve Case, Chairman of the Case Foundation

4. “Transformational breakthrough requires confronting fear of failure.” – Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation

5. “If you never fail, you’re doing it wrong. Missteps help your progress, and those who come after.” – Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation

5. “Revolutions happen in evolutionary ways.” – Steve Case, Chairman of the Case Foundation


From President Barack Obama’s discussion with Evan Smith:

7. “We are at a moment in history where technology and globalization, our economy is changing so fast and this gathering brings together people at the cutting edge of these changes. These changes offer us a lot of opportunities, but are also very unsettling.” – President Barack Obama

8. “It’s not enough to focus on what’s the cool new thing…we need to focus more on solving big challenges.” – President Barack Obama

9. “Using big data, tech, analytics to find new ways to solve old problems and build stronger citizen participation.” – President Barack Obama


From Inclusive Entrepreneurship Panel at SoFin @ SXSW:

10. “Inclusive entrepreneurship is an imperative for our economy to work.” – Ross Baird, Executive Director of Village Capital

11. “When diversity is baked in its easier to make a core part of your brand.” – Justin Davis, Program Manager at Kapor Center

12. “We are putting our money where our mouth is investing in rise of the rest communities across the US.” – Allyson Burns, SVP of Communications and Marketing at the Case Foundation


From #Movements: When a Hashtag Breaks the News:

13. “Breaking of news is now a commodity, contextualizing is the key for differentiation.” – Jean Ellen Cowgill, President of Atlantic Media Strategies

14. “Skilled organizers on the ground just as much – or more – important than a hashtag in raising awareness in Ferguson.” – Shadi Rahimi, Acting Executive Producer of Al Jazeera’s AJ+


From the Case Foundation’s SXgood sessions, SXgood Stories: Myth of the Entrepreneur and SXgood Lab: The Future of Entrepreneurship presented by the Case Foundation

15. “At their core, an entrepreneur is a problem solver, and we need people solving more diverse problems.” – Sheila Herrling, SVP of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation

16. “I’m optimistic about the power of leaders making better choices and prioritizing diversity.” – Casey Gerald, Co-founder and CEO of MBA’s Across America

17. “Only 11 African American women have raised more than $1M in venture funding.” – Earl Robinson, President of PowerMoves sharing data from the Project Diane study

18. “We believe in leveling the playing field for all entrepreneurs.” – Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation

19. “Talent is evenly distributed opportunity is not.” – Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation


From USAID’s Global Innovation Challenge: Lifting 1 billion people out of poverty:

20. “People with the best ideas come from unexpected places.” – Ann Mei Chang, Chief Innovation Officer and the Executive Director of the U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID

UPDATED: 12 Can’t Miss Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2016

It’s that time of year again: We’re less than a month away from SXSW Interactive—a five-day festival that showcases a mix of digital creativity, emerging technology and unique networking events. With nearly 34,000 participants and countless panels, workshops and sessions, narrowing down your schedule can be a little overwhelming, but our staff of SXSW veterans have put together a list of 12 sessions you can’t miss.

From March 11 through 15, members of the Case Foundation team will be on-site learning about new trends in social good, philanthropy and technology from thought leaders in the sector and leading eight sessions on social good issues, inclusive entrepreneurship, philanthropy, innovation and more that we hope you will join us for:


11:00 am: Jean and Steve Case: A Roadmap for Innovators
Austin Convention Center, Room 18ABCD
Join our CEO Jean Case and Chairman Steve Case, two of the world’s most prominent technology pioneers, investors and philanthropists, as they talk with Ben Johnson of Marketplace Tech and share a roadmap for innovators and entrepreneurs who want to change the world.

2:30 pm: Inclusive Entrepreneurship Panel at SoFin @ SXSW
Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, 217 Congress Ave.
Case Foundation SVP of Communications, Allie Burns, joins a panel at SoFin @ SXSW to explore the subject of inclusive entrepreneurship and why supporting entrepreneurs from under-represented backgrounds is the key to building a stronger future.


11:00 am: #Movements: When a Hashtag Breaks the News
W Marriott, Salon C
Our Senior Director of Communications, Jade Floyd, leads a discussion with researchers and journalists on how, in an age where more than half of all Facebook and Twitter users get their news from these sites, powerful hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #BringBackOurGirls, #GivingTuesday and more, are able to take over social media and momentous moments in time.

3:00 pm: Village Capital 2016 FinTech Showcase
Maggie Mae’s, 323 E 6th St
Our CEO Jean Case joins our friends at Village Capital as a judge for their pitch competition focused on supporting financial inclusion entrepreneurs from around the US, particularly entrepreneurs from under-represented backgrounds in technology.


4:00 pm: #WhatsGoodMixer at SXSW 2016
The Connected Yard, 83 Rainey Street
Hosted by our CEO Jean Case, join CauseMedia Group and What’s Trending for a social good mixer, bringing together nonprofit leaders, social activists, technologists and corporate partners for a look at innovations in social good. You must RSVP for this event. Click here and use password whatsgood to RSVP today.


1:15 pm: SXgood Stories: Myth of the Entrepreneur
Palm Door on Sixth
The Case Foundation hosts an entertaining and eye opening storytelling session featuring four entrepreneurial thought leaders. These dynamic individuals will each share a brief story about the challenges and opportunities they face as entrepreneurs… but only two will be true, while the other two are false. Will you be able to tell fact from fiction?

2:30 pm: SXgood Lab: The Future of Entrepreneurship presented by the Case Foundation
Palm Door on Sixth Patio
Join the our SVP of Social Innovation, Sheila Herrling, and the Case Foundation for a lively group discussion to inspire ideas for how we can create a new narrative for the future of entrepreneurship together. This session is aimed at crafting actionable concepts for how we can create a more diverse and inclusive reality for our entrepreneurial community. Following the session, join us for a networking happy hour.

3:45 pm: Global Innovation Challenge: Lifting 1 billion people out of poverty presented by USAID
Palm Door on Sixth
USAID is calling on innovators everywhere to help end extreme poverty. Three social entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to solve global development challenges in an interactive competition, and our CEO Jean Case will be one of the pitch competition judges.

We’re also excited to take part in the many sessions that promise to stretch our minds, inspire our creativity and just have fun, like the three sessions below. Have another can’t miss SXSW session we should know about? Tweet us the details using @CaseFoundation so we can share it with our community.


11:00 am: New World of Photography and Visual Storytelling
Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon F
Seasoned National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore has put the reach of modern media platforms to work through Photo Ark, using the power of both traditional and social media on National Geographic’s many publishing platforms to create a connection between animals and the people who can help protect them. Share in this panel’s lessons of making media meaningful, while enjoying amazing photos and videos.

12:30 pm: Social Activism: How to Ignite a Movement
JW Marriot, Salon C
What does it take to transform an idea into a viral movement for social good? Author and researcher Derrick Feldmann has spent the past two years talking with the people behind the biggest social movements of our time. He’ll share their stories and some of their secrets and what you can do to make your cause go viral.


9:30 am: Tech at Issue in 2016 Election
JW Marriott, Salon 5
With the 2016 presidential campaigns in full swing, we will take a deep dive into how issues around technology and entrepreneurship will impact politics and the presidential election.


12:30 pm: Swipe Left or Right: The Latino Millennial Vote
Austin Convention Center, Ballroom EFG
Join Maria Teresa Kumar for a deep dive into the mind of a Latino millennial: why and how they vote and how they’ll shape our political landscape for years to come.

Not headed to SXSW this year? Follow along with the Case Foundation team members on Twitter at @CaseFoundation, @JeanCase, @Sherrling, @AllieB, @JadeFloydDC, and our chairman at @SteveCase.

Photo credit: shelbysdrummond.

Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship

Throughout our nation’s history we have celebrated entrepreneurship as a key to unlocking economic and technologic advancement, seeing ourselves as a country of innovators, discoverers and inventors. And each February we honor the integral role that black history has played in building and strengthening our nation. This week, I am thrilled to be in Miami for Black Tech Week and the launch of our partner PowerMoves’ recent expansion into the region. I can’t think of a better way to honor the role that entrepreneurs of color have played in making America the greatest “startup” ever!

But here’s the rub: when we talk about startups and entrepreneurship today, why is it that we are so hard-pressed to name entrepreneurs of color that made history and shaped our collective future? Why does our collective conscience go to equating “entrepreneur” with a white guy in a hoodie, toiling away alone in his garage, until he has a Eureka moment that changes life as we know it? Myths of the Entrepreneur persist and are perhaps disproportionately holding back entrepreneurs of color when our nation needs them most.

Let’s be reminded of some of the greatest innovations of our time, all led by entrepreneurs of color:

  • The carbon-filament light bulb invented by Lewis Latimer in 1881. Thomas Edison gets all the glow (no pun intended), but Latimer’s filament made it cheaper, more efficient and, therefore, more practical and profitable.
  • The gas mask invented by Garrett A. Morgan, first used in 1916.
  • Blood banks, made possible by the invention of Dr. Charles Richard Drew in 1940, which allowed plasma to be dehydrated and countless lives saved since.
  • Refrigerators, invented by Frederick M. Jones in 1940, modernized farming and shipping, and led to the introduction of modern-day supermarkets.
  • The automatic oil cup for train parts, invented by Elijah McCoy; his design was so superior to the many knock-offs that engineers ordering them asked for “The Real McCoy” (ok – really, how many of you knew that’s where that term came from?!)
  • The potato chip! Invented by George Crum in 1853, the potato chip industry became a billion dollar business, creating a massive amount of jobs and certainly changed my world.

And let’s highlight some modern-day entrepreneurs of color showcasing the power and potential of diversifying the current state of our nation’s entrepreneurship:

  • Publisher John H. Johnson who started both the Ebony and Jet brands and the first African American to appear on the Forbes 400 list.
  • Financier Melody Hobson of Ariel Investments, which today is the largest minority owned investment firm in the world with nearly $11 billion in assets.
  • Hotelier and sports team owner Sheila Johnson, who was co-founder of BET and the first African American female billionaire.
  • Entrepreneur and investor Daymond John who is founder and CEO of FUBU and a judge on the hit show Shark Tank on ABC.
  • CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd of ACT-1 Group, the nation’s largest black female owned business with more than $1.4 billion in revenue.
  • Earl Robinson, CEO of PowerMoves (disclosure: PowerMoves is a grantee of the Case Foundation), which has backed 100 minority-founded companies, raising $27 million in venture capital and creating more than 350 jobs.
  • Kesha Cash, founder of Impact America, investing in underserved communities.
  • And venture capitalist Erik Moore with five exits under his belt and dozens of investments in companies like

So much history to celebrate. So much to be inspired by. And so much more to do to recognize and realize the full innovation potential of America by leveling the entrepreneurship playing field for all. Connecting social and financial capital to women and entrepreneurs of color who continue to be under-represented and whose success will serve as inspiration to a whole new set of young dreamers looking for role models to whom they can relate. Sadly, today only 3% of venture-backed companies have female CEOs and only 1% have founders of color; Project Diane’s report on the success of African American women in tech is best summarized by Wired as “embarrassing.” Making entrepreneurship more inclusive isn’t about charity or political correctness; it’s about sound business. Research shows that companies in the top quartile for gender, racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. And in many respects, it’s about restoring the American dream.

The talent, the companies and the opportunities to level the playing field are out there. There just needs to be more intentionality in the discovery and sourcing process. Over the last two days, I’ve seen some of our future nation shapers on stage at PowerMoves Miami launch. Companies like Neurtronic Perpetual Innovations, LISNR, VOO Media Group and Kairos have all each raised more than $5 million with disruptive ideas. Watch out for Virgil, a mobile-first career navigation platform, who today won the Knight Foundation’s Angel Round Pitch Competition, which I had the honor of judging. And please, let’s model the secret sauce of PowerMoves in sourcing successful black female founders – of the 11 (yes, only 11!) black female founders that have raised more than $1 million in outside investment, four of them — Lisa Dyson of Kiverdi, Kellee James of Mercaris, Cheryl Contee of and Jewel Burks of Partpic (disclosure: Partpic is an investment of our founder Steve Case) — are alumna of the PowerMoves model, collectively raising nearly $50 million in capital.

Join us in our crusade to diversify the face of entrepreneurship. Tell us which entrepreneurs of color are on your radar and what’s standing in the way of unleashing their full potential. Share with us on Twitter at @CaseFoundation using #Ent4All.