Inclusion is one of the core values of the SOCAP conference. We encourage diversity among applicants to our Entrepreneur Scholarship program and require gender and racial diversity for all SOCAP conference sessions. We do so because we believe that a diversity of thought leadership at impact convenings can help create a more just and equitable world.
The #FacesofFounders initiative is also working to help build a more just and equitable world by fostering entrepreneurial inclusion. Their aim is to change the face of entrepreneurship by drawing attention to diverse entrepreneurs who are achieving success today–and how far we as a nation must go to even the playing field for everyone. Currently, fewer than ten percent of venture-backed companies have a woman founder and fewer than one percent have an African-American founder. #FacesofFounders, which is sponsored by the Case Foundation, Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Google for Entrepreneurs, UBS, and Fast Company, hopes to catalyze the entrepreneurial inclusivity movement by shining a spotlight on successful American entrepreneurs who are defying stereotypes and blazing a pathway for others. In doing so, they hope to encourage greater numbers of people from groups that have been historically sidelined to begin their own entrepreneurial journeys.
They are currently asking entrepreneurs to join the movement by sharing your image and your story. Five entrepreneurs will be selected from the pool of applicants to be featured on FastCompany.com.
#FacesofFounders at SOCAP16
SOCAP16 attendees were treated to a sneak peak of the campaign before the official debut of FacesofFounders.org. Everyone who attended SOCAP16 was invited to their booth to share their story and have a headshot taken by a professional photographer.
After the conference Jessica Zetzman of the Case Foundation told us that, “the overwhelming support and positivity from the SOCAP community helped to influence its launch. We are so happy that SOCAP could be a part of the process. Not only did many people at SOCAP lend their faces for the campaign (we took headshots for 226 people!), but we collected 25 stories at SOCAP from entrepreneurs who took time to sit down and write out their entrepreneurial journey for a chance to be featured in Fast Company.”
Since SOCAP16, the #FacesofFounders story booth has appeared at a number of notable events including the White House’s South By South Lawn (SXSL) festival, the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit, a Project Entrepreneur event at the New York Stock Exchange, and Google Demo Day: Women’s Edition.
How to Participate
#FacesofFounders wants to hear real stories of how entrepreneurs are disrupting the status quo while overcoming the challenges faced by every entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs who have founded, exited, or are in the early ideas stages of founding a startup are encouraged to apply by answering the following three questions at FacesofFounders.org:
- Tell us about your business. What problem is it trying to solve?
- What has been the biggest obstacle in your entrepreneurship journey?
- How do you or your business contribute to advancing inclusive entrepreneurship?
From the applications, reviewers will select five entrepreneurs whose stories epitomize an inclusive approach to entrepreneurship. The panel of reviewers will be looking for variety of criteria, including scalability and originality of the business model, the founder’s demonstrated level of motivation and passion for changemaking, and their venture’s potential to create jobs and build communities.
#FacesofFounders will accept applications from entrepreneurs until Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 3:00 pm ET. Apply Here. The five winners will be notified by late January 2017.
All headshots in this article were taken at the #FacesofFounders photo booth at the Fort Mason Center during #SOCAP16.