See the #FacesofFounders Open Source Platform In Action

As part of the Case Foundation’s commitment to Open Source, we continue to share the code that powers the technology side of our efforts. Last year, we shared the code for our #FacesofFounders website so that others would benefit from the investment we had made into cutting edge technology. Today, we’re excited to share a new video demonstrating the capability this open source platform provides for those who use and build upon it.

Launched in 2016, #FacesofFounders was a campaign to attract entrepreneurs, particularly female founders and entrepreneurs of color, to share their photos and stories of entrepreneurship on After a review by a panel of 40 judges, who completed their work using this open source platform, FastCompany featured the winners of the campaign. The site has since evolved into a Medium publication that continues the work of showcasing diverse entrepreneurs driving innovation and job growth.

Open source, a medium for freely sharing and collaborating on technology, is yet another way that organizations can give back in the form of their technology. We believe it is particularly important in the philanthropic field as it is an opportunity for social innovators to accelerate their own missions by tapping into the work of the collective community. One gift of open source code can have unlimited beneficiaries, and we believe it to be a key component of the ongoing democratization of technology.


This open source platform contains several features from the #FacesofFounders campaign:

Social Media Profile Photo Filter

The photo upload feature allows visitors to upload a photo (or select a Facebook or Twitter profile photo) and place a campaign-themed filter on top of it. The filtered photo can then be turned into profile images on social media sites, and added to a shared photo wall on a homepage, which will continually display all new and past filtered photos. Administrators have the ability to remove inappropriate photos from the homepage.

Story Submission

In addition to—or instead of–uploading a photo, visitors can submit stories to the judging platform. This submission tool contains customizable forms and can be placed in a “closed” state once judging begins. All submissions entered through the form then go into a queue for a site administrator to assign to judges. Because the platform is built into WordPress, it is also possible to directly upload submissions via WordPress’s dashboard.

Story Review and Judging

The third and final component of this codebase is the judging platform. As visitors submit stories, they queue in the judging section on the backend. Once all submissions are final, assigned judges can log into the platform and request submissions to review. The judges score each submission on a numeric scale, and the platform uses those scores to begin ranking each submission. Site administrators can then log in and view the stories ranked by their aggregate scores to determine winners. The entire codebase comes packaged as a WordPress theme for easy deployment and visual customization using WordPress’s robust theme system.

How You Can Use This

While the Case Foundation used this to support the FacesofFounders campaign, we expect that it can be used in a wide variety of efforts and we can’t wait for you to take advantage of this great project! To help, we’ve created a detailed technical guide that you and your team can use to understand how to best utilize the open source code. To access that guide and more resources, visit the project’s GitHub page.

To show our commitment to the open source community and the importance we place on expanding involvement in open source from the philanthropic sector, we’ve published many of our projects online. To see more of our work, visit the Case Foundation’s GitHub page.

We look forward to seeing what you do with these tools and hope many others will join in this effort and share their open source projects.

Empowering Female Founders and Entrepreneurs of Color in Los Angeles and Beyond

This Spring, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti sat down with our Case Foundation VP for Social Innovation, Sarah Koch, at Urban Tech Connect, a conference designed to support and provide networks for startup founders of color.  Together they explored how the Los Angeles tech ecosystem has grown over the past several years—from a record numbers of startups calling LA their home to an influx of funding rounds and the many high-profile acquisitions and exits—and how important the building of ecosystems to support founders from all backgrounds has proven to be across the country.

In 2017 alone, startups throughout the the city of Los Angeles raised $7 billion in capital, through an upsurge in new investments and new firms. And more than $1.4 billion was raised in 2017 across 16 funds. During the conversation Mayor Garcetti shared how his office has sought to expand their startup ecosystem through programs like the Grid110’s and the creation of the TechFair LA which featured more than 200 leading regional startups.

Watch the video as Mayor Garcetti and Sarah share more on how we can be intentional about how we fund, mentor and support female founders and entrepreneurs of color in thriving cities like Los Angeles and beyond.

Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship

At the core of the Case Foundation’s Inclusive Entrepreneurship work is finding solutions that allow all innovators, specifically women and people of color, to explore and participate in the entrepreneurship arena and all it has to offer.

As a part of the 2017 Summer Essence Festival, I had the pleasure to host an engaging panel discussion with Kristen Sonday, Co-Founder of Paladin (and a #FacesofFounders winner!), Kathryn Finney, Founder of digitalundivided and Brian Brackeen, CEO and Founder of Kairos. These changemakers are disrupting the image of who is and can be an entrepreneur and are part of a movement to seize the opportunity that inclusive entrepreneurship provides and dramatically change the distribution of capital required to make that happen.

On the Essence Festival stage, we had thoughtful and action-oriented conversation trying to unbundle what’s at play behind the following set of stats: If women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, particularly black women, women-led businesses are outperforming their male peers in many VC portfolios and racially-diverse companies are outperforming industry norms by 35 percent, why does so little capital go their way? For context, less than 10 percent of venture-backed companies have a female founder; less than one percent have a black founder; less than one percent have a Latinx founder, and; a mere 0.2 percent have a black female founder.

These statistics make up the backdrop to the great conversation we had on stage. Key themes we covered are:

  • Talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not.
  • It’s not just about the financial capital; social capital is hugely important.
  • He (because it’s largely men) who make the decisions matters
  • Media plays a big role in setting default narrative and images of who is an can be an entrepreneur.

I hope you’ll watch and share your feedback on social media using  #FacesofFounders!

Confronting the Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

November is National Entrepreneurship Month, and the irony that the month kicks off with National Stress Awareness Day will not be lost on any entrepreneur.

Throughout the month, we at the Case Foundation will be celebrating entrepreneurs and all of the contributions they bring. When we talk about putting our Be Fearless principles into practice, it’s not surprising that we often turn to startup founders for inspiration. For “Make big bets” you can’t help but think of Sara Blakely and Jeff Bezos; “Let Urgency Conquer Fear” evokes the story of Daymond John; “Make Failure Matter” conjures images of Oprah who was told she wasn’t made for TV, Elon Musk, or Thomas Edison who famously declared, “I haven’t failed, I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

But the story of many entrepreneurs, because they can be so inspirational, can also become over-glamorized. What we don’t talk about enough, however, is the stamina — mental and physical — required to be an entrepreneur. It’s an essential part of the narrative of who is and can be an entrepreneur. And since that very notion was the premise of our recent #FacesofFounders campaign, we reached back out to some of those featured founders to take on the topic of stress management.

Head to Faces of Founders on Medium to see what they said.

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!