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Black Innovators and Entrepreneurship

Thom Ruhe, Director of Entrepreneurship, The Kauffman Foundation

This post is being shared with permission from the author, Faye Anderson, public policy consultant who focuses on the intersection of social media and social change.  

As per Faye … earlier this week, I launched “The Innovators” on Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website.

The idea to tell the underreported story of entrepreneurial black innovators was sparked by a comment Startup America Partnership CEO Scott Case made during a webinar moderated by Lesa Mitchell.

In response to a question about women entrepreneurs’ lack of access to venture capital, Case said women and minority entrepreneurs face a similar challenge -- “they’re not visible to us.” He added: “We need to celebrate entrepreneurship in this country and profile those amazing people to create the level of inspiration that will allow people to step up.”

While Case’s response was unsettling, his candor was refreshing. Like it or not, people do business with people they know. Venture capitalists will not be inspired to step up and invest in people they don’t know.

To be sure, access to VC funding is challenging for all entrepreneurs. African American founders face an additional hurdle given they typically do not work or live in Silicon Valley or other technology hubs.

“The Innovators” will not be another boring documentary that’s merely formatted for the iPad 2. Instead, we will use innovative web-based video tools to share real-time data about black founders. Viewers will be able to access entrepreneurs’ data from across the social web, including their tweets, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page and website.

Through interactive storytelling, venture capitalists and other investors will get to know those amazing people. With your support, we will show the changing face of innovators. So please go to Kickstarter and kick in what you can.

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