written by William Crowder, Managing Director for DreamIt Access
The topic of diversity in tech continues to make national headlines. In nearly every instance the conversation is about the efforts underway in Silicon Valley. Even the region’s most recognized accelerator, Y Combinator made USA Today headlines last week as its president announced the firm’s push to recruit more diverse founders and said “I wish that all other venture funders thought about this the way we do…In the meantime, we have this incredible competitive advantage because no one else is doing this.”
While that might be true in Silicon Valley, when one steps outside of that region they realize that the revelation is not new wisdom. I am amazed by the amount of attention and energy being expended at attempting to solve such a huge and historic problem on a relatively small scale. In other words, the rest of “us” lives in the rest of the U.S. Diversity in tech is not a geographic concern; rather it is a mindset that must be changed across the entire country if we expect to see any meaningful progress. Believe it or not, Silicon Valley is not the cure for what ails us. The Valley will ultimately be a part of the solution and I am glad to hear that it is finally realizing what many have been aware of for quite some time, that there is underrepresentation across the entire tech landscape and that should and must change.
I am a partner at a highly regarded global startup accelerator DreamIt Ventures, which has helped launch over 179 companies over the last 6 years. At DreamIt we have taken a proactive approach to addressing the diversity in tech issue. Specifically, in 2011 we started that work by creating a component within our accelerator cycles that would specifically recruit startups led by founders from underrepresented populations. In partnership with Comcast we intentionally set about the creation of a program and environment that was open and welcoming to new ideas, perspectives, and problems to solve. Since creating the DreamIt Access program, we have seen the diversity in each class increase and more importantly we have seen firsthand the power it has in the development of high quality startups and founders.