White House Promotes Tech Diversity in First-Ever Demo Day

Yesterday, President Obama hosted the first-ever White House Demo Day focused on inclusive entrepreneurship, welcoming startup founders from diverse walks of life and from across the country to showcase their innovations. The President announced new public- and private-sector commitments that promise to provide more Americans with the opportunity to pursue their bold, game-changing ideas.

Just three percent of America’s venture capital-backed startups are led by women, and only around one percent are led by African Americans. At present, only about four percent of U.S.-based venture capital investors are women. And, capital for innovative startups is predominantly available in just a few places, making high-growth business creation a challenge outside of a handful of metro hubs.

To maintain the United States’s lead as the best place on the planet to start and scale a great company, the administration’s focus is on ensuring that vibrant startup ecosystems emerge in every corner of America, and that all Americans, including those underrepresented in entrepreneurship like women and people of color, are both encouraged and able to fully contribute their entrepreneurial talents.

Atlanta-based Partpic (featured in the July/August issue of AT) was one of the companies invited to exhibit its innovation during Demo Day. The tech startup, founded by Jewel Burks and Jason Crain, makes finding a replacement part as easy as taking a picture. Partpic combines image recognition and machine learning technologies to transform the industrial supply industry, a $570 billion annual market worldwide. Traditionally, finding a replacement part requires a lengthy process of serial number verification and supplier communication.  With Partpic, customers simply snap a picture of the part they want to replace and automatically receive product name, specifications, and supplier information. The company recently closed a $1.5M seed round including investments from Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest and Comcast Ventures. Burks leads the Partpic team as co-founder and CEO, and additionally serves as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Google. Partpic’s leadership team also includes former Googler, Crain as co-founder/COO.

When the White House issued a public call to action earlier this year, there was an enormous response from companies, nonprofits, universities, and others around the country declaring new actions to promote inclusive entrepreneurship. Among those companies making independent commitments was Opportunity Hub. Also based in Atlanta, the enterprise will launch a new inclusive entrepreneurship initiative in collaboration with The Iron Yard, CodeU, Troy Carter’s AF Square, and Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center. The goal of this multi-year initiative is to increase the number of investable minority, high-growth technology and technology-enabled startups and early-stage companies in the United States, and includes: $1 million in full and partial code-school scholarships, allowing over 100 minority students to attend The Iron Yard; financing for up to 10,000 students via a partnership with CodeU; $1 million in full and partial scholarships to OHUB’s Pre-Accelerator, which will provide a pipeline for over 100 diverse entrepreneurs to over 70 accelerators for pre-seed funding; and more angel investors of color via the Angel Investing Certificate Program with Troy Carter’s AF Square and Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center. This builds on OHUB’s past track record of incubating more than 100 inclusive startups that have gone on to raise over $5 million in seed capital.


– Katrice L. Mines

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