Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why So Few Black Technology Entrepreneurs Funded by CincyTech?

I joined over 400 people at the CincyTech annual meeting at the Duke Energy Convention Center earlier this morning. I counted 35 start-up companies and community partners participating in the Start-up Showcase. I visited each of the booths and talked to many of the technology entrepreneurs who have enjoyed success with CincyTech.

CincyTech is a public-private partnership whose mission is to invest in high-growth start-up technology companies in Southwest Ohio. The organization provides management assistance, seed-capital investments and connections to partners who share its mission. CincyTech focuses on opportunities in information technology and life sciences. This is a wonderful opportunity for technology entrepreneurs.

After seeing the CNN's Black in America episode,'The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley' I was very sensitive to the issue of racism that impacts Black technology entrepreneurs when it comes to venture capital funding of start-ups. As such I was disappointed to see that less than a dozen of the 400 people in attendance were African American ... and only three (ConnXus, Innovative Card Solutions and SampleSaint) of the 35 booths were filled with technology companies that were owned and operated by people of African descent.

CincyTech President Bob Coy announced CincyTech’s performance numbers during the meeting. CincyTech has invested $10 million in 28 local start-up companies and helped its companies attract another $100 million in private co-investment since 2007. There were no statistics or emphasis mentioned at any point during the meeting about the dearth of Black technology entrepreneurs being supported by the process.

I am glad to see that there are Black leaders on both the staff and executive committee of CincyTech. That is better than what we saw from the movers and shakers in Silicon Valley.

I suggest that BDPA (local, regional and national) become more aggressive in their engagement with entrepreneurial organizations like CincyTech. I plan to follow-up with CincyTech and its portfolio companies to invite them to learn more about BDPA Cincinnati chapter and the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation. There should be speaker opportunities, company tours for our members and students, internships and perhaps even support for BDPA's college scholarship program.

Perhaps the CincyTech Annual Meeting in 2012 will have a growing level of engagement with Black tech entrepreneurs and start-ups!

1 comment:

Villager said...

NOTE: This response came to my personal email address -- "Do you really want my opinion? Are you sure?? I’d like to secure funding for my business which has been extremely challenging to keep afloat over the years but I’ve given up on that pursuit and have resolved to grow my business one client at a time until I’m self funded.

I don’t have much to say about the investors or so-called funding programs in this town. They all want you to have perfect credit or collateral, or some other ridiculous criteria that effectively screens out most Black applicants. And if you don’t have the right connections (like having worked for P&G) or if you don’t kiss ass or belong in the right “clique” then you can forget about it. But what they WILL do is take all your personal information, string you along and “borrow” your ideas, then next thing you know someone else is doing your thing without YOU. Been there, done that. If things change, let me know. But for now I’ll stick to plan “A”…."