September 21, 2020 (updated September 21, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
In this episode host, Dennis Velco chats with Lorenzo Thione, Managing Director of Gaingles (https://www.gaingels.com), an LGTQ equality centric venture capital syndicate. Lorenzo is a serial out gay entrepreneur, venture capitalist, writer, Broadway producer, and LGBTQ non-profit founder. Born and raised in Italy, he moved to the United States to attend college in Texas focusing on computational linguistic artificial intelligence. He co-founded his first start-up business right out of college and its been the entrepreneur’s path ever since.
17:00 Description of companies Gainles invests in today as a venture syndicate through venture lead rounds: (1) LGBTQ owned (founders), (2) LGBTQ leaders in C-suite, (3) LGBTQ equality value-aligned companies
22:30 How social responsibility investing positively impact companies with an example of a negative impact with business reputation and customer trust lead to reduced financial performance
23:45 Gaingels has grown from investing about $4-million 4 years ago to about $20-million in 2019 and just surpassed $50-million in investments in this year (2020) alone.
24:00 Is there any chance companies are using Gaingels as window dressings like Pinkwashing investing?
Thione is the Managing Producer of Sing Out, Louise! Productions, the co-founder and CEO of The Social Edge, and a Managing Director at Gaingels (https://www.gaingels.com), a venture investment group based in NYC focused on investing and supporting LGBT+ founded/led startups, and socially responsible companies focused on supporting LGBTQ equality. In addition to his work as an entrepreneur, technologist and venture investor, Lorenzo is the co-creator/co-book writer and the lead producer of Allegiance, the 2015 Broadway musical starring George Takei and Lea Salonga. In developing Allegiance, he developed and deployed social-media viral strategies that led to the astounding growth and unprecedented awareness and audience engagement for both George Takei and Allegiance’s social media platforms, and – in turn – to the founding of The Social Edge, a social media management and marketing firm based in NYC. His producing credits include The Inheritance, Slave Play, Hadestown (Tony Award), Cher Show, The New One, Catch Me If You Can (Tony Nomination), and American Idiot. Additional IMDB credits: George Takei’s Allegiance (Director, Executive Producer), Bandstand – The Boys Are Back (Director, Executive Producer), Allegiance To Broadway (Executive Producer).
Besides being an active investor in the LGBT+ startup ecosystem via his position in Gaingels, Lorenzo is a founding board member and Chair Emeritus of StartOut, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering and developing entrepreneurship within the LGBT community. A native of Milan, Italy, Lorenzo holds an M.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and has co-authored several publications in Software Engineering and Computational Linguistics. He is an active investor, advisor, or board member, in over 80+ startups and a named inventor on over 30 pending and issued patents in the US and worldwide.
Join Lorenzo on OutBüro, the LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur online community network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, allies and our employers who support LGBTQ welcoming workplace equality focused benefits, policies, and business practices. https://www.OutBuro.com
September 17, 2020 (updated September 29, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
In this conversation with Superbia Services out gay entrepreneur CEO/founder Myles Meyers, we chat about the very long road to bringing his vision to serve the United States LGBTQ community through financial services and products that eliminate discrimination and biases. Further, through using those services, provide much-needed funding for a US-based LGBTQ community organization. With is 30 years of financial institution experience lense in early 2015 Myles sought out a US-based LGBTQ financial services organization and found there was none. Knowing the institutionalized discrimination that many traditional financial services organizations impose on the LGBTQ community and individual biases of staff of otherwise well-intentioned institutions, Myles saw the strong need for a new financial services organization that is focused on the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, interest, asexual, queer, questioning persons and our wonderful community supporting allies. He also understands that most nonprofits serving and supporting the LGBTQ community struggle to meet current operational expenses let alone have the financial option to grow. So, from the outset, Myles set his sights on creating a new financial service organization that supports the individual, small business owners, and community nonprofits.
In this chat, you’ll get a great overview of the steps taken, progress, next steps, and immense personal commitment of Myles and his team. So far it has been a 4-year journey. It is with good reason a highly regulated industry and therefore Myles and his team been working tirelessly to meet and exceed all state and federal regulations to ensure Superbia Services is a safe and sound financial institution.
Watch or listen to the conversation to learn more. Connect with Myles on at: https://www.outburo.com/profile/myles/ Our first recorded interview with a great overview Episode page: https://www.outburo.com/superbia-1st-in-gay-banking-insurances-and-money-management/
On YouTube: https://youtu.be/DRRUAiqRkMQ Our first article on Superbia in December 2018: https://www.outburo.com/superbia-financial-the-first-lgbtq-community-national-credit-union/
Join Myles on OutBüro, the LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur online community network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, allies and our employers who support LGBTQ welcoming workplace equality focused benefits, policies, and business practices. https://www.OutBuro.com
Would you like to be featured like this? Contact the host Dennis Velco. https://www.outburo.com/profile/dennisvelco/
September 15, 2020 (updated September 16, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
Superbia Services, founded by out gay entrepreneur Myles Meyers, is an LGBTQ Credit Union and financial services firm. The credit union is owned and managed by it’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, asexual, gender nonconforming, queer, and or great community allies who join. It provides all the traditional financial and banking services for personal and small businesses. The services side is working to provide life and health insurance as well as wealth management. Mr. Meyers has decades of financial services experience and founded Superbia based on the discrimination and biases many in the LGBTQ community face. Superbia, which is Latin meaning Pride, is designed to serve a community need as well as provide needed funding for LGBTQ community nonprofits. The more you use the services the more that, it can be provided to the community. It is a social impact business that creates an equal financial playing field where all members are treated with dignity and respect. As Mr. Meyers stated, “the world doesn’t need another bank or insurance company, but the world does need one that is focused on serving this community”. 13:50
05:30 Superbia will offer small business banking and services
07:00 the national association was launched on July 1, 2020
08:30 It is an online model with a partner network fork local cash withdraws and local cash deposits to reach our members where they live
12:00 Have received international coverage and interest
13:50 the world doesn’t need another bank or insurance company, but the world does need one that is focused on serving this community”
Join Myles on OutBüro, the LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur online community network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, a.lies and our employers who support LGBTQ welcoming workplace equality focused benefits, policies, and business practices. https://www.OutBuro.com
Would you like to be featured like this? Contact the host Dennis Velco.
September 7, 2020 (updated September 23, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
Ben Finzel, is not a typical business #startup #entrepreneur. He launched RENEW PR, a public relations firm that primarily focuses on #renewable #energy, #sustainability, #environmental, and #LGBTQ topics. He is an out #gay business owner (LGBTQ entrepreneur) with over two decades of top PR agency experience in Washington, DC. With experience at prestigious firms such Edelman, FleishmanHillard, and others.
11:00 Delving into launching ReNew PR – transitioning from being an employee to an entrepreneur
13:00 A short clear explanation of your business is key
13:50 A benefit of starting a business after a long a rich career is the professional network of past coworkers, clients, and industry contacts.
15:00 He clarifies ReNew PR’s scope is both specific and broad – energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainability, climate change, clean transportation, natural resources, air/water/land use all broadly. A great client would be one who offers sustainable products, say that reuses, reduces, or upcycles as one example.
17:45 Honest discussion of transition into being an entrepreneur, the assumptions and adapting
19:20 As a business own leveraging technology tool to make the dreaded yet necessary tasks easier such as invoicing.
20:20 Shifting from big PR agencies to own small business, created new realizations, new opportunities, and new partnerships
21:15 It is not pie. There is enough for everyone.
24:00 Focus and differentiate your business. ReNew PR is a certified LGBTQ Owned Business by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)
25:30 Formation of the Change Agencies a network of multicultural owned agencies
27:00 Networking with other LGBTQ communications PR professionals in Washington DC
Join Ben on OutBüro, the LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur online community network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, a.lies and our employers who support LGBTQ welcoming workplace equality focused benefits, policies, and business practices. https://www.OutBuro.com
May 21, 2020 (updated May 21, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
The first step to any budding LGBTQ entrepreneur no matter what startup’s business may focus on it is understanding your “why”. It is important to have, acknowledge, and understand your “why.” Why is this important to you? This is vital because if you have your “why” that you believe in you are in a better position. You can push yourself through and over the hurdles that will inevitably arise. Being an entrepreneur is tough, risky, high pressure, challenging, and can often feel lonely. Your “why” becomes your mission, your passion, and your drive.
It likely will shape the products or services you offer. It can become a core part of your marketing. All great marketing is rooted in “why” and leveraging that to tell the story and connect the client/consumer with the brand and its products/services. An authentic “why” can help get others on board in the early stages to support your business venture. It becomes a tool for measuring your own definition of success and helps to keep you focused.
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
Your “why” might strike you all a sudden or it may develop over time. It could be that something inspired you from your childhood. Maby you see a problem in the world and aim to be a part of creating a solution. Your “why” may have been inspired in a countless number of ways.
Questions to Ask to Get to the Heart the “Why” of Your Business
Why do I do what I do? Or Why do I want to do this?
What does it mean to me, my family, my life, the community, others?
What is the purpose for me, my family, my life, the community, others?
How can it help me, my family, my life, the community, others?
How can will it make a difference for me, my family, my life, the community, others?
How will it support me, my family, my life, the community, others? In what ways?
How will make me feel fulfilled and happy?
What are there gaps that it might be able to be a part of filling and why does that matter?
“Why” and Your Story
Your “why” can become of your company origin story being the foundation of your mission, driving your vision, and demonstrating your commitment. It can lead customers to identify with it, fall in love, and become brand champions. With businesses and consumers being overwhelmed with social media, emails, text, and more your well-crafted message has the challenge and opportunity to stand out as authentic. If your target audience sees and feels your passion, they are more likely to appreciate it, connect with it and do more than become a client/customer to becoming a valued brand champion sharing it with all they know.
Your “Why” is Not Money
Well, technically it could be money, such as the desire to help LGBTQ people with their personal finances like my buddies at The Dept Free Guys. Their branding has their “why” message clearly throughout. John and David were $50,000 in dept. They made a plan and became debt-free. They want to help others do the same.
A true “why” is not “I want to get rich“. Businesses rarely make profits right away, so the dream of money alone will not be reason enough to see it through. Could your “why” lead to financial gain, comfort, and success as you define it? Sure. Amazing if it does. Naturally, as you build your business plan and start executing on making it a reality you’ll set targets.
On a pure financial front, maybe your “way” is simply so that you can support yourself and your family while being your own boss. That is perfectly fine. There are lots of entrepreneur ventures matched with your skills than can if well executed fulfill that worthy “why”. Maybe a franchise would be a good fit with a business model, suppliers, and marketing pretty much done for you. But if its a mindset of only greed and to hell with anyone or anything else, you will likely live a miserable life doing crap you really don’t enjoy and feel zero personal satisfaction doing it regardless of the money. Money cannot buy true happiness.
Surround Yourself with Support
It is often said, and I wholeheartedly believe, that no matter if you are an entrepreneur or building your professional career, you must surround yourself with likeminded people who support your vision and lift you up even if they don’t totally understand it right now. That support can be in person or even online. Ideally, you will have also have one or more mentors who can guide you as well as hold you accountable to reach the heights of what your “why” can contribute to yourself, the community, and those your serve.
Having your immediate and extended family support can be helpful. As LGBTQ persons sometimes that is not a reality due to homophia and learned biases. But if you are one of the lucky ones that you being LGBTQ does not negatively affect your personal family relationship, they also can support you in your entrepreneur startup vision. This support might be that they just lend an ear when you need to talk or it could be that they are the first finanical investors in your business.
I and most industry leaders believe that having a life partner who supports your entrepreneurial interests is vital to your potential success. You are taking a huge risk, will have sleepless nights, likely work long hours, and may have financial ups and downs. If your life-partner doesn’t fully support you, it WILL strain the relationship. As early as appropriate, start the dialog with your life-partner about your ideas. Does that person support you and have as best as possible an understanding of all the risks, challenges, and commitment involved? If so, GREAT! Be sure along your journey that you keep the lines of communication open so they are part of your journey and sense when you need that extra effort from them.
A personal Note
My ex-husband was not very supportive of my entrepreneurial drive. He was more comfortable with the illusion of stability working for someone else, commuting every day to an office, and sitting in a cubicle. We got into many heated discussions over the topic. He had a difficult time understanding that my entrepreneurial drive is at the foundation of who I am. The best years of our relationship were when I did business travel 50-80% but was also miserable due to that. So, for many reasons after 17 years we parted ways and divorced – now 3 years ago. I’ve been single since and hope to eventually stumble upon a life-partner that supports, challenges, balances, and compliments me – and me him.
Friends – Supportive, Negotiate and Edit
This also goes for people you consider friends. As you start and work to grow our business, as mentioned you may be working long and irregular hours. You’ll likely often be stressed out. You may have financial struggles. Are your friends really your friends? Are they there for you as best they can be or are they superficial who will complain when you are no longer as accessible or don’t have the time or funds to join them all the time for activities like you might have before? If you value that person, at the first sign of them being frankly clueless and/or selfish, schedule a time to have an honest conversation. Then time will tell if they are a supportive friend or not. If need be for those that prove to be superficial as quickly and kindly as possible either edit them out completely or move them to the occasional acquaintance category.
It is perfectly fine if a friend doesn’t understand your business or why you work so much. But a good friend will strive to understand that it is important to you and be there when you are able to hit the beach, go out dancing, go on a hike or bike ride, and also lend an ear when you need someone to talk to.
Seek Out Other Entrepreneurs
As an entrepreneur it is a great idea to build a network other entrepreneurs who do get you and what you are going through. They might also be a great resource to bounce ideas off of. They could be a good barter partner for services your business needs and referral source. They can be a great business and community resources. They can become great personal friends. And who knows, if the timing is right a mutual attraction, who knows maybe become a life partner. Who better to understand your and your entrepreneur’s journey than another entrepreneur?
Your “Why” Is Your Strength
When you boil down to your “why” it will give you strength. When you whole-heartedly believe in your message and your mission it’s easy to stop feeling self-conscious and just do it! You, like me, have something more important than your own insecurities to share. Your audience, customers, clients, constituents, employees, members, life-partner, family, friends, and the community, need you to shake away the clutter, identify and live your why and be as awesome, amazing, inspiring, and as kick-ass as you can be. They deserve it. You deserve it. You have the potential to be a great LGBTQ entrepreneur but they’ll never know it if you don’t step up, own it, and grow into your “why’s” potential. Plan don’t get stifled in thinking perfection is needed before starting. Most entrepreneurs, if honest, learn as they grow, and grow as they learn. Your first step is “why”.
May 11, 2020 (updated May 11, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer entrepreneurs often struggle well beyond their heterosexual start-up counterparts in many areas of business. One, in particular, is raising funding in the form of venture capital and operational working capital funding to launch and grow their business. Most businesses will need to apply for some sort of working capital during their lifetime. Traditional loans are not always an option to many LGBT business owners due to the lengthy paperwork required and strict rules and guidelines, and discrimination from the staff of traditional VCs/Banks/Leading Companies/Financial Institutions who have historically favored heterosexual white males. Progress towards diversity in entrepreneur funding is happening, yet continues to be slow.
Several financial companies and organizations have stepped up to aid LGBT entrepreneurs in acquiring the capital they need to see their vision to reality and continue its growth trajectory.
We’d like to consider this an active and growing list. If you are aware of a company or organization that providing funding and capital targeting the LGBT entrepreneur, we’d appreciate you using the Contact Us form and provide a link to their primary website so that we may review their info and potentially add them the resource list below.
If you contact any of the below, we’d greatly appreciate it if you would let them that you learned about them here on OutBüro.
Note: this site does not have SSL active, yet still live.
We’re out to change the world of business finance! Founded by LGBT with a focus on LGBT and other minorities. Diversity Fund is a new business finance platform that unites rewards, lending, and equity finance provides sophisticated tools for investors to evaluate each deal and company and is fun and engaging for everyone!
Through Diversity Fund, an entirely new generation of entrepreneurs can finance their venture or expansion by immediately reaching thousands of potential investors who support their goals. Diversity Fund opens the world of business finance to entirely new sets of entrepreneurs and investors and leverages crowdfunding to even the playing field to the rest of us. Founded in Austin, Texas, Diversity Fund seeks to become a leader of small business finance and a trusted source for both entrepreneurs and investors. We’re excited about Diversity Fund and hope you are too. Be sure to register, so that we can send you information and news. Also, subscribe to our e-newsletter and check out our social links for more!
LGBT Capital was established in 2010 with a focus on the LGBT Consumer segment as a credible investment sector and to demonstrate the business case for advancements in LGBT equality and inclusion.
Since then and to support these aims, LGBT Capital has pioneered the development of an LGBT Diversity Investment Index with a complementary Institutional Investment methodology, developed Statistics and Research to demonstrate the potential of the LGBT Consumer Sector, and launched the first international specialist LGBT Wealth Management offering as well as an LGBT focussed Property Portal. LGBT Capital also works with a number of quality LGBT focused businesses to support their investment plans and growth.
LGBT Capital’s portfolio is guided by a primary focus on a sound business opportunity while actively supporting the advancement of LGBT Equality and Rights globally We prefer to work closely with clients and partners towards achievable goals. We will advise, but prefer to help structure, implement and execute. We believe in the power of Impact Investing and in particular that Impact Investing can support the progression of LGBT freedoms and inclusion globally. We also believe that the growth of quality LGBT businesses, particularly in developing markets, will play a key part in further developing LGBT freedoms and quality of life.
Formerly known as Google Ventures, GV was launched in 2009 to serve as the venture capital arm of Alphabet, Inc. Since then, it’s invested in over 300 startups within the life science, healthcare, artificial intelligence, robotics, transportation, cybersecurity, and agriculture industries. Some of these startups include Walker and Company, Tala, and Vida.
Google Ventures is very open to exploring relationships of entrepreneurs of all backgrounds.
We believe in the power of spending time together face to face. Whether we’re hosting a summer BBQ, celebrating Pride, or playing softball, you’ll find us with our portfolio founders and their teams.
Startup52X is focused on grooming extraordinary startup founders to launch highly successful and profitable ventures. We especially like teams that have at least ONE founder from underrepresented communities in tech. These include people of color, women, entrepreneurs who are – veterans, with disabilities, immigrants, LGBTQ, etc. We hope to increase diversity in startup and tech spaces while launching outstanding ventures.
Startup52 is an early-stage accelerator based in New York City. As the first sole diversity-focused accelerator in NYC, Startup52 was founded by Chike Ukaegbuto identify and groom outstanding entrepreneurs, especially those from untapped and under-tapped communities. Our main goal is to increase diversity in startup and tech spaces.
We run two cohorts a year with up to 15 outstanding ventures per class. Startup52’s ecosystem of partners, mentors, advisers, industry experts, investors and more, helps our ventures and founders thrive well even under the daunting challenges of startup entrepreneurship.
Our program follows an intensive structure that implements strategy aimed at uniquely helping startups develop an effective framework for decision making in focusing, aligning, executing and delivering against strategic adaptive and growth initiatives. This, we hope will lead to launch, longevity, and successful exits.
Our community of mentors, advisers, experts, serial entrepreneurs and more, are successful people, who have sold businesses, held executive positions at large companies, have advanced degrees from ivy league schools, are current entrepreneurs, among other great accomplishments.
AngelList is a U.S. website for startups, angel investors, and job-seekers looking to work at startups. Created in 2010, the platform has a mission to democratize the investment process and to help startups with their challenges in fundraising and talent. It started as an online introduction board for tech startups that needed seed funding. Since 2015, the site allows startups to raise money from angel investors free of charge.
The LGBT Market on AngelList is a resource to consider. Companies listed include HER and HORNET along around 150 other LGBT entrepreneur-owned businesses and worth investigating as a potential venue for exposure to angel investors
Connectivity Capital Partners is a venture capital firm that funds early-stage startups. Through the efforts of its Chief Investment Officer, Denmark West, the firm advocates for diversity in technology by supporting extraordinary startup founders regardless of their background.
As an LGBT entrepreneur, you are a champion of your brand. With Republic you can create a crowdfunding campaign that does more than attract small investors – it aids in creating brand ambassadors. Not LGBT specific as a platform, yet via your network and the compounded social influence that has you can spread your fundraising efforts to the audience of your making coupled with an active investor pool of 350,000 current members. In May 2016, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission enacted Title III of the JOBS Act, allowing non-accredited investors — the majority of the US population — to invest in startups. But the complicated legal requirements demanded a founder and investor-friendly, easy to use platform to make startup investing truly accessible while adhering to legal requirements so that it is an ethical safe space to invest from within.
That’s why we built Republic: to democratize investing and level out the fundraising landscape for founders and investors alike. We’re SEC-registered, FINRA-licensed, and if you’re at all interested in startups, you’ve heard of our past work: Republic is part of a family of startup platforms together with AngelList, Product Hunt, and CoinList — one of the most trusted online startup ecosystems in the world.
Gaingels is a profit-focused, mission-based affinity organization (a networking group of investors) which offers venture-stage investment opportunities into companies worldwide that have at least one LGBT founder, senior C-level executive, or board member.
Our members put great effort into assisting the companies we invest in. In turn, exceptional founders seek out this type of assistance to produce strong returns.
We also invest directly in venture funds, accelerator partners, and charity partnerships, including our own scholarship and mentoring program.
Announcing the Diversity Initiative, the largest venture capital resource ever created to focus on underrepresented entrepreneurs. This $125M commitment, part of Intel’s groundbreaking diversity efforts, will ensure that funded entrepreneurs enjoy the access to business development programs, global network, technology expertise and brand capital their talents deserve. Focusing on both the seed-stage and expansion phases, Intel Capital – Diversity Fund invests in technology, environmental or social mission driving startups, and must be within the U.S.
In June 2015, Intel Capital announced the venture industry’s largest-ever commitment to invest in technology companies led by women and underrepresented minorities (African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans).
Initially envisioned as a five-year, $125 million fund, the Intel Capital Diversity Initiative was expanded in October 2016 to also invest in startups led by entrepreneurs living with disabilities, U.S.-based entrepreneurs from the LGBTQ community, and U.S. military veterans.
In May 2018, Intel Capital announced that the Diversity initiative had exceeded its initial $125 million investment target more than two years ahead of schedule. Through September 2019, we have invested $381M in companies led by diverse teams; such companies make up 15 percent of our active portfolio.
500’s mission is to discover and back the world’s most talented entrepreneurs, help them create successful companies at scale, and build thriving global ecosystems.
We believe that great founders come in all shades, genders, and nationalities.
Since our inception, we’ve made it our mission to find and empower talented founders, whether they’re across the world or overlooked in our own backyard.
Diversity has always been a core value at 500. We’re committed to being champions of the global VC community, not as it is, but as we’d like to see it.
At 500, we don’t just slap a poster on the wall about diversity – we know that LGBT founders, mentors, and investors are a huge part of what makes our #500Strong family so great. In 2014, we even launched Rainbow Round to highlight great entrepreneurs and do more community outreach.
If you have a socially responsible business model, Pipeline is a great start. Business owners can pitch to a network of women investors through pitch summits which happen several times throughout the year in various locations. To be eligible, businesses must be for-profit, headed by a cis female, non-binary femme or transgender woman. Our members serve as the friends and family for entrepreneurs who may not already have support at their critical startup stage.
DigitalUndivided understands that cultural, structural, and financial barriers have functioned to restrict the involvement of people of color in economic chances. But, black and Latina women are the fastest-growing set of entrepreneurs in the USA. BIG is more than an incubator- it’s a direct pathway into the innovation economy for women of color. The BIG process begins with START, an invite-only weekend of ideation, pitching, feedback, and networking. From this weekend, we chose the cohort of the BIG Incubator
Self admittedly, this is an investment portfolio that happens to take on minorities, not as a mission, but as a matter of good business as discussed in his short article here >> How to build a successful and diverse venture capital portfolio without really trying Brooklyn Bridge Ventures manages $23 million across two funds, leading or co-leading investments of around $350,000 in New York City companies that have yet to raise $750,000 in prior rounds. BBV is the first venture capital fund based in Brooklyn, NY and it is managed by Charlie O’Donnell. Conversations often start pre-product and pre-deck. The fund invests in a wide variety of sectors, so say hello.
Kapor Capital invests in tech-driven seed stage companies committed to closing gaps of access, opportunity or outcome for low-income communities and/or minority underrepresented communities in the United States. We are open to investing in every sector, including education, work, finance, justice, food, and health.
We have invested exclusively in companies that have real potential to produce both significant financial returns and large-scale social impact by:
closing gaps of access to information or goods and services; and/or
expanding economic opportunity in the workplace and the marketplace; and/or
increasing outcomes such as efficiency and competitiveness of market-based solutions to social and economic issues.
We seek entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, especially people of color, women and other groups that have been historically underrepresented. We believe lived experience helps entrepreneurs identify rapidly-scalable, market-based solutions others have overlooked.
They construct Hispanic and Minority company success stories by giving experience for early-stage companies. They supply mentorship, strategic guidance, and technical assistance. They focus particularly on first-time entrepreneurs and first-time small business owners.
Astia was founded in Silicon Valley in 1999 as a non-profit organization dedicated to identifying and promoting best-in-class, high-growth ventures that include women leaders.
Astia levels the investment playing field by cultivating a trusted global ecosystem of engaged male and female investors and advisors, who offer crucial resources, including capital, networks, and expertise. Unlike most VC’s, investment firms, or accelerators, Astia provides a creative, proven approach that contributes to the success of women leaders and their ventures.
Collaborative Fund Partners, LLC, is a social impact and inclusion investment firm. CFP exists to “do well by doing good.” Through a multi-company investment approach, CFP is able to minimize placement risk, where most early-stage funds have failed in the past. By becoming directly involved in each company, CFP is able to maintain a quality control position with the management team and the use of funds needed to take each company into revenue and profitability.
Collaborative Fund Partners, LLC generates capital appreciation through investments in its portfolio companies that meet the Fund’s investment policies. The Fund will seek to fulfill its primary investment objective by making investments in early-stage companies that require additional equity and/or working capital in order to establish or expand their businesses
Founded in 2011 by Angela Benton, NewME has accelerated hundreds of entrepreneurs through our online platform, residential “boot-camp” accelerators, and equity portfolio. We pioneered diversity in Silicon Valley by focusing on helping entrepreneurs identify strengths from their non-traditional backgrounds and leveraging them in business. We’ve helped hundreds of entrepreneurs build better businesses some have even went on to raise venture capital funding. To-date NewME has helped minority entrepreneurs raise over $43MM in funding.
Mariah Lichtenstern’s background of building bridges between the privilege with those that are not prompted her to found Diversecity Ventures. Its focus is to invest in startups that not only aims to make a socio-economic and environmental impact but, more importantly, those that strive to promote cultural, geographic and cultural diversity.
Co-founded by Shauntel Poulson, Reach Capital is a venture capital firm that aims to support minority-led startups striving to help underserved communities in the country, particularly in the field of education. We invest in education because we believe itʼs our most valuable resource. It has the power to influence our course, contribute to our dreams and strengthen our communities. We invest in the people we believe in and the ideas we want to help build. Whether we are your sole investor or one of the many partners along your journey, we’ll always be there, ready to go to bat for you when necessary.
Black Angel Tech Fund was started by a group of successful Black entrepreneurs and angel investors after a thought-provoking panel about the lack of Black startup founders during the 2015 Stanford Black Alumni Summit. Since then, they have taken up the cause to use financial resources from successful African-Americans to support Black-owned startups. If you are LGBTQ and also happen to be African American, this VC may have interest in you.
Digitalundivided was founded by Kathryn Finney in 2012. Its mission is to champion Black- and Latinx-owned startups, by providing financial support and sound advice that will not only help launch these startups but also scale. If you are LGBTQ and also happen to be African American or Latinx, this VC may have interest in you.
DID continues to expand it’s impact and create true systems change through initiatives like The Doonie Fund, which has made over 1000 micro-investments in black women entrepreneurs and the expanded START program, which serves as an entry way for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs into high growth entrepreneurship.
Project Diane 2020 is set to be released in Fall 2020 and while financial impact remains a central focus, 2020 data will spotlight community impact and what it truly means to be “self-made” in the tech and innovation space.
Based in New York City, KEC Ventures was founded by entrepreneurs from different ethnic backgrounds and industries. This unique blend of leadership gives KEC Ventures the ability to discover and support early-stage startups founded by entrepreneurs belonging to minority groups.
We help entrepreneurs bring the future into focus to find their breakthrough moment. Our proven track record of 100+ investments has unlocked growth opportunities through capital, advisement, and relationship building. We are the result of the merger between successful Los Angeles and Bay Area based Seed funds, Cross Culture Ventures and M Ventures. We invest in technology companies that create infectious products that benefit from shifts in cultural trends and behaviors in an increasingly diverse global marketplace.
Based in New York, Harlem Capital Partners (HCP) is a venture capital firm that focuses on early-stage, minority-owned startups. Its mission is to invest in 1,000 of these types of startups within the next 20 years, with half of these being women- and minority-owned startups. HCP focuses its investments towards startups that aim to enhance financial, marketing, and operational experiences. As a solution to this challenge, HCP partners with entrepreneurs who have revenue-generating tech-enabled products or services that can leverage our financial, marketing and operational experiences to implement key processes to go from selling products to running a sustainable business.
Dreamit Ventures prides itself not only one of America’s top startup accelerators but also a catalyst of diversifying startup ownership in the country, particularly those that focus on developing Health and Urban Tech solutions.
Its partnership with Comcast Ventures aims to provide financial support and mentorship to minority-owned startups with ready-made products to help them scale through their Dreamit Access program.
Since it was founded, Humble Ventures has invested in 47 different startups, 70% of which are those established by women and entrepreneurs belonging to minority groups. These theCut, The Mentor Method, and KweliTV. Humble Ventures’ goal is to bring to innovative startups collective human, financial, and technical resources for them to launch and scale.
We focus on diverse entrepreneurs that are solving problems for the fastest growing demographic segments. We believe that diverse entrepreneurs provide opportunities for disproportionate returns and represent the markets of the future. We know that diverse audiences are tied inextricably to the future of cities. These audiences require responsive healthcare, access to wholesome food, economic stability, education, safe neighborhoods, and tight social support to create an environments for them to thrive.
Founders First Capital Partners is a venture capital firm founded by Kim Folsom with the goal of providing capital and support to startups owned by women, entrepreneurs from minority groups, and military veterans.
We fund service-based companies generating between $250K and $5M in annual revenues typically led by minority, military veterans, or woman founders. We offer Revenue-based investment (“RBI”), a new form of business financing, distinct from the preferred equity structure most VCs use and more flexible than traditional bank debt.
Its goal is to help startup founders not just launch a successful business, but also one that can be carried from one generation to another.
Valmo Ventures is a venture capital firm founded by Valerie Mosley, a successful entrepreneur who’s made it her mission to help under-represented startup founders grow both their self-worth and net worth.
In line with this, Valmo Ventures’ mission is to create, advise, and partner with startups to transform them into valuable and profitable assets to society as a whole. Valmo Ventures creates, collaborates, and invests in companies, assets, and efforts that add value to portfolio returns and add value to our society. We believe that when we advise, invest in, and collaborate with bright, like-minded, and like-hearted individuals, extraordinary results are possible.
While Base Ventures is still a relatively young venture capital firm, it’s already making a mark as far as bridging the gender, and ethnic gap observed among startups in the country. Already, it has raised multi-million dollar funding for startups like StyleSeat and Balanced Payments.
Much of the success of Base Ventures is owed to its founder and Managing Director, Erik Moore. A seed investor of Zappos.com, Moore is recognized as one of the top 25 Most Influential Black in Tech and is driven by his desire to change the world by investing in young entrepreneurs.
Precursor Ventures is a venture capital firm that provides funding to pre-seed startups developing B2B and B2C software applications and services, and connected hardware. Although it’s one of the lesser-known firms, Precursor Ventures has willingly taken on the mission to ensure startup founder from diverse backgrounds are given equal opportunity to receive funding to grow and scale their businesses.
Precursor Ventures was founded with one simple premise. It is our belief that all entrepreneurs, regardless of background, benefit from having an institutional investor to help them scale and grow their company from the very beginning. We have built the entire firm around this premise that helping entrepreneurs get started and scale will be our life’s work. To that end, we have six core principles that drive our decisions and strategy:
We want to invest in your first institutional round of investment. We do not have requirements for traction or metrics. We want to be part of the company as early as possible. We are unafraid to back unproven, first-time entrepreneurs; unproven is not the same as incapable. We believe that the greatest returns in venture come from entrepreneurs who are capable but have not yet had the opportunity to show the world their talents and capabilities. We aggressively back entrepreneurs who have something to prove. We hold ourselves to high standards in terms of the diversity of founders we back and support. We are committed to investing in founders who represent a wide variety of backgrounds in terms of gender, race, background, academic experience and life circumstances. We are patient because building meaningful companies takes time and the rewards are great for those who participate in the entire journey. Building great companies takes time. There are no shortcuts and we know that the journey will be long but the rewards are worthwhile. We focus on long-term thinking. We value intellectual curiosity and open thinking. The best companies are built by curious founders who question everything and are open to thinking about new ways to tackle problems. We invest in early-stage companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, and Toronto. We are willing to consider other geographies, but we focus our energy in these locations.
Excel Capital Management is a proud supporter of the LGBT community, and we are here to help with all of your business funding needs! For more information on Excel and the funding solutions we offer, check out our Solutions page and APPLY NOW! For even faster service, contact one of our funding specialists TODAY at 877-880-8086
Wells Fargo a national leading small business lender for eleven years and they are dedicated to supporting the business needs of the LGBT entrepreneur client community. This dedication includes being a founding corporate partner of National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and strong support for LGBT inclusion with their LGBT clients and their employees. As an employer, Wells Fargo fosters a culture in which all people and their individual differences are not only accepted but celebrated. If you’re an LGBTQ+ employee of Wells Fargo rate them here.
Being an entrepreneur is never easy. But so worth it. You can make inroads to attaining your entrepreneurial goals. Be smart about who you partner with for funding. It will be a long-lasting relationship not to be taken lightly.
Bear in mind there is not any failure, only feedback. Remember that there are organizations and persons which are pushing for diversity and that encourage LGBTQ and other diversity entrepreneurs. One such organization is the National Venture Capital Association who has listed over 40 venture funds dedicated to diversity. We are still reviewing all those companies to validate they are worthy of including in this list in a future update.
January 22, 2020 (updated January 23, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
As an LGBTQ entrepreneur with startup business should a competitor analysis to help you launch, remain focused, grow, adapt and own your market.
There are an estimated 1.4 million LGBTQ businesses total in the United States, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. As LGBTQ business owners we can face challenges others do not, Some of these include disclosing their sexuality to their angel and venture capital investors, traditional loan officers, staff, co-workers and customers, landlords perhaps, and being a victim of harassment and discrimination based on who they are. This could be an outright blatant, conscious yet not visible and simple unconscious bias of others.
Why bother? I know what I’m doing.
There are many things a LGBTQ entrepreneur with startup business should have to help them launch, remain focused and grow including a business plan, a clear understanding of your target audience, a clear mission & vision, general marketing, great content marketing in all forms and clear understanding of the direct and indirect competition to become the front runner in the competitive landscape you are trying to grow your business in.
Completing a competitive analysis will help you to better understand your industry market trends, identify your competitors, evaluate opportunities, analyze threats to your business or organization, adjust your go-to-market and positioning strategy accordingly. Looking at our competitors analytically uncovers what works and doesn’t work. It helps you find that golden nugget of how to differentiate yourself in the market. Unknowingly they are essentially being a mentor to you and your startup.
So, let’s get growing your LGBTQ owned business so you can create job opportunities for others and grow your personal financial freedom and hopefully give support to the great LGBTQ non-profits supporting our community.
How Gay is This?
Now is creating such documents uniquely GAY? Of course not. Your sexual orientation does not play a role in the mechanics of creating a business plan or doing competitive analysis. However, the individual(s) who are LGBTQ entrepreneurs can face challenges their heteronomative competitors may not. There is little entrepreneur content out there that is LGBTQ centric – so we are helping to create it and OutBüro is a publishing platform for you to add to the collective knowledge and resources via posting your own articles. It can be leveraged as marketing your knowledge, skills, products, and services targeting predominantly LGBTQ professionals and other entrepreneurs.
Perceived Competitor Maybe Synergy
I’d also like to add that we’d love to think that everyone in the LGBTQ community is open, welcoming and supportive of all other LGBTQ. That sadly is not the case. In business, it is the same. You may have other LGBTQ businesses and even non-profits view your business as a competitor. Maybe you are. Maybe there’s some overlap of products and services yet the majority is different. Unfortunately, even if another LGBTQ owned business or non-profit perceives you are in some way and scope encroaching on what they believe to be their domain – you are their competitor. So you might as well do a competitive analysis on them to better understand their mindset. Maybe you are a competitor. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to partner. After having done your homework, if they accept a call/meeting with you, you would be able to clearly articulate the synergies and joint opportunities and dispell their assumptions and maybe a partnership would improve both companies/organizations.
Your competitors can come in many forms depending on the type of business you have. Maybe you are a dentist opening an office in an underserved community. It’s a potential that a medical non-profit serving that area could view you as a competitor since their funding may be based on numbers served.
Your competitors have likely been operating for a while. They have clients/customers and therefore making money. Those clients/customers to some degree like them, find value in them and respect them. No matter if you are opening a new local ice cream shop, bar, legal office, dentist office, or launching a potential industry disruptive technology, in all cases, you must understand your real and perceived competitors to ensure:
What they’re doing better than you right now so that you can strive to do it better?
What are their marketing strategies and tactics that seem to be working>?
What mistakes in your humble opinion or that’s been publically reported that you can strive to avoid and possibly capitalize on?
Don’t be modest here. What do you believe you are doing better? How are you different? Leverage these in your marketing.
Competitor as a Mentor
Well, most competitors won’t sit down over coffee and share their entrepreneur journey or provide business advice to help you not make the mistakes they have made. But they have achieved, to a level of success, what you strive for serving a similar target audience. Think like that, they’d make the great mentor. You still can learn a lot from what you can observe through completing a competitive analysis.
Even just one insight into how your competitor operates can give you great ideas. But after a full competitive analysis, all the gathered can drive your competitive strategy.
Who are your competitors?
There are two kinds of competitors to consider:
Companies/organizations who have similar products or services – i.e. McDonald’s and Wendy’s
Companies/organizations that have different products or services but who compete for the same dollar – i.e. McDonald’s and Papa John’s Pizza
Consider the example of Hulu. They don’t just compete with other streaming services, they compete with movie theaters, cable TV, YouTube. They are competing for your couch time. So the gym, social events, social media, and gaming could all be considered competition. Focus on your direct competitors first and then expand to consider indirect competitors too.
Questions while completing a competitor analysis
Starting off with the big questions like:
Who are the major players serving this market?
Use internet searches and other resources to locate them for the geographic area you intend to cover
How is the market split up between them?
If there aren’t reports, you might find their revenue reported on their website, or in articles and lastly, you might find the company tax reports.
Next go a little deeper, with more specific questions like:
How does the market think about these competitors?
Check out online reviews. Search for articles online.
What is their target demographic? Do they market to a target age group or income level? If B2B what size and kind of company is their ideal client/customer?
What sort of experience are they offering?
If a physical location, check out their office/store. Interact with employees. How is their customer service?
If they offer professional services such as consulting, check out their employee profiles on sites like LinkedIn. To be a real sleuth, create a temporary account so the competitor employees don’t see that it’s you checking them out.
How does their product or service look and feel? How does it work?
If local, check them out. If online and you’d like to sign up for their email marketing newsletters and maybe have a sales discussion including a product demo then again being a sleuth, use a pseudo name (i.e. John Smith), create a new Gmail email account, get a Google Voice phone number to use.
How are they delivering?
What do they charge? How do customers order? What reviews do they get?
Search, search and then search more.
Along the way keep asking if your business can differentiate itself in some way.
Identify competitor strengths and weaknesses
You’ll begin to see which ones will challenge you most as you learn more about your competitors. They might be in your region, or they might target the exact same market segment as you. List the strengths and weaknesses of these competitors.
Strengths might include things like:
huge brand awareness – they’ve been around forever and people trust them
great distribution – they’re in all kinds of shops, all over the place
really good networks – they’ve built lots of great relationships with buyers
low price point – It may be impossible for you to compete on the price. However, in many markets leading on price can be perceived as low quality.
Weaknesses might include things like:
Reputation – clients/customers don’t get a thrill buying from or interacting with them
Cheap packaging – their product packaging is not aligned with the target audience’s expectations
Lack of depth – the competitor has remained limited in service or scope that you may offer
Bad reviews/perception – clients/customers aren’t have left bad reviews online or you hear industry talk of clients/customers desiring an alternative
Poor client/customer service – consumers don’t feel valued which may tie into bad reviews
Lack of innovation – their product or service offering has not improved or evolved over time
Poor messaging – their online and offline marketing content is dated, stale and lacks excitement.
By understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can figure out what differentiates you – and where you fit in the
When doing a competitor analysis, it’s important to consider your advantages. There may be things about your business that others can’t replicate, like:
Patents or licenses: Are you the only business that can produce a certain product?
Exclusive supply arrangements: You might be the only business in your area that can sell certain products.
Special processes: You might have a way of working that others don’t know about.
Innovation: Maybe your product or service is an industry disruptor.
Costs: Maybe you offer a wider service or better products at a similar cost. Again, don’t just try to be the lowest-priced offering.
Social reach: Maybe you are good at social media and content creation to attract the attention of clients/customers/members.
Customer Happiness: Maybe you provide such a great service/product and in all touchpoints, you and your team excel at customer service creating happy customers/clients.
It’s important to know where you have advantages like these. Leverage them in your online and offline marketing.
Do it again and again
Be sure to schedule at least every 6 months to update your competitor analysis and ask:
Have new competitors popped up?
How difficult would it be for a current competitor or a new company/organization to replicate you product/service and strategy? If easy, what can you do to make it more difficult?
Have current competitors made changes to their business/organization?
Have they improved on their weaknesses?
Have they added new products or services?
Have they updated their marketing?
Have these changes affected your own competitive advantage positively or negatively? If so, adjust to the evolving market in whatever manner is most effective to regain your competitive advantage.
Start your competitor analysis today
You don’t have to have an exhaustive competitor analysis to get started. It can take weeks to complete your first version working it into your business daily and weekly schedule. But, put it on your calendar so you are to be sure to get it done with as many competitors as possible at first, even if that is only 2-5. Fill in what you can find easily and then add to it as you go to learn more. It won’t complete itself and is a vital tool to understand your competitors and ensure your product/service and marketing is on target.
July 31, 2019 (updated September 16, 2019) Published by Dennis Velco
OutBüro is seeking sales professionals ready to leverage your current contacts and expand them for unlimited income. Do you have contacts in Fortune 1000, large, and mid-sized companies? Or contacts in all levels of government, education institutions, non-profits or other?
We’re looking for a results-driven sales representative to actively seek out and engage customer prospects.
Help us grow. Start out as an independent sales consultant. Potential for the right person to grow into a Sales Director role. Leveraging our transparent Ambassador program. Depending on your experience and contacts we can customize the OutBüro Ambassador program commissions.
Leverage current and actively expand company/organization decision making contacts.
Represent the OutBüro Employer Branding and Reviews Monitoring and any future solutions.
Work with OutBüro to hone our sales process and any gaps in needed collateral to make assist in the process.
Performing cost-benefit analyses of existing and potential customers
Maintaining positive business relationships to ensure future sales and retention of clients/customers.
Reach out to customer leads through cold calling leveraging tools and other resources.
Achieve agreed upon sales targets and outcomes within schedule
Coordinate sales effort with team members.
Analyze industry/territory potential, track sales, and status reports
Supply management with reports on customer needs, problems, interests, competitive activities, and potential for new products and services.
Expedite the resolution of customer problems and complaints to maximize satisfaction.
Providing constructive feedback on features based on prospect/client needs.
Continuously improve through feedback.
No recruiter contacts – No fees paid to recruiters.
This is an independent agent sales role. OutBüro is an equal employment opportunity company. However it is focused on the LGBTQ community and therefore any person applying regardless of sex, gender identity, religion, ethnic, race, sexual orientation, physical, mental, or veteran status or other must be 100% comfortable and confident in representing OutBüro and the LGBTQ community in a highly positive manner.
June 25, 2019 (updated November 8, 2019) Published by Dennis Velco
Promote LGBTQ Workplace Equality and Earn
We would like LGBTQ workplace equality to spread like wildfire and we applaud entrepreneurs, so today OutBüro launches it’s OutBüro Ambassador program.
What is the OutBüro Ambassador Program
It is an affiliate marketing system that anyone may register for. It is a system that is transparent providing each Ambassador with a unique URL that is customizable to share with prospective employers to use when claiming or adding their OutBüro Employer Listing. Employer listings subscriptions fees are based on a sliding scale depending on the number of current employees worldwide. Therefore it’s cost effective for companies/organizations of any size from 3 – 300,000 or more.
See the OutBüro Ambassador program overview for more information on how it works and the management area just for Ambassadors to track your clicks and successful Employer Listing subscriptions.
Currently, the Ambassador program offers a 10% commission on successful Employer listings that are claimed or added. The commission is not only on this initial annual subscription yet continues annually for as long as that Employer listing remains active. Therefore you earn an initial plus residual income.
You share your unique link with prospective employers. When they click through your Ambassador account is attributed for up to 90 days. It is in all our best interest to have them sign up as quickly as possible. If another Ambassador shares their link with the same employer you run the risk of the 2nd Ambassador being attributed with the signup. See the Ambassador program description for more detail on this.
Believe you can pull lots or big fish?
Do you believe you can attract a significant number of employers and/or very large employers? OK – contact us to discuss the opportunity.
Who can be an OutBüro Ambassador?
Anyone or any entity really. But some ideal Ambassdors would be the following:
An individual who already markets to businesses of any size.
A company who already markets to businesses of any size.
A company/organization LGBTQ employee who would like to champion their employer to claim or add their Employer listing to OutBüro. Perhaps this is on behalf of an LGBTQ employee resource group.
Any for-profit or non-profit that advocates LGBTQ workplace equality.
Any non-profit with a membership base such as community centers, chambers of commerce and so forth.
Again, really anyone or any entity may become an OutBüro Ambassador.
Are there any restrictions on the the earned commission may be used?
OutBüro does not place any restrictions on how the funds you, your company, or your organization uses the funds earned but here are some ideas:
Diversity and Inclusion Consultants
Same as all below and a very pertinent offering to expand the outstanding services you are already doing. It’s one more thing you bring to the table and earn.
Hey, use the funds any way you like. Pay bills, add to a vacation fund.
Pay your health insurance.
Pay other your debt down.
Pay for college tuition, book, rent, food, nights out.
Take that needed vacation.
Donate it to local LGBTQ non-profit charities.
It’s 100% up to you.
Small business – B2B marketing
Grow your business adding this as one more revenue stream.
Add needed hardware – buy a new laptop, etc
Pay company bills.
Throw a holiday party for staff and/or clients.
Invest in your business
Take a needed vacation.
Donate it to local LGBTQ community non-profits.
It’s 100% up to you.
Medium sized business B2B marketing
Same as Small Business
Support your internal LGBTQ workplace equality efforts
Launch an LGBTQ employee resource group
Expand your marketing and your exposure
It’s 100% up to you
Promote OutBüro to your membership base. They’ll also then be supporting your organization now and every year they retain their membership.
Get that needed website update accomplished.
Invest in technology to improve internal operations, security and other needed areas.
Add paid positions.
Expand your service offerings
Allocate the funds to annual project goals
It’s 100% up to you
OutBüro Gives Back Program
As soon as OutBüro starts a positive revenue track, which with your help as an Ambassador we hope will be soon. We’ll be allocating a percentage of quarterly profits to be donated to global, national and local non-profits that support LGBTQ workplace equality, opportunities for career advancement and training and general LGBTQ community support organizations.
You’re being an Ambassador can do so much good for you, your organization an the community at large.
Review the following to get up to speed
Review the following article from OutBüro to expand your knowledge so that you are ready to talk with employers about the value of being an open and welcoming LGBTQ workplace. Naturally, seek out other resources too for general information on diversity and inclusion.
I am so excited to have you considering becoming an OutBüro Ambassador. I’ve built OutBüro and the OutBüro on LinkedIn group with currently over 46,000 global members 100% on my own. It’s been my own time, energy and money to try to build a global resource for the LGBTQ community.
I can no longer do this alone and need you and your business connections. Naturally, I hope you also make every LGBTQ working professional no matter what job they do aware of OutBüro so they come review/rate their employer(s). As the employers are added and employee submits ratings/review OutBüro will become a valuable resource for both the employers, their employees, and future job seekers.
Since 2008, Dennis Velco founded and has nurtured LinkedIn’s largest LGBTQ networking group from a concept to an international networking resource with over 46,000 global members – that grows daily. Velco is a social entrepreneur with a passion for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.
It was the driving force for Velco to launch the LGBT media crowd-sourced corporate social justice tech startup OutBüro. Additionally, OutBüro is a growing site of LGBT related business news, information, resources, and stories of careers and business owners.
Velco continues to moderate and grow the LinkedIn group yet now branded as and supported as a service of OutBüro.
For Dennis, creating, cultivating and growing the OutBüro on LinkedIn group has been a persistent and passionate endeavor.
OutBüro on LinkedIn welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT), queer, intersex and questioning professionals and entrepreneurs, along with friends, allies, recruiters and diversity professionals seeking to connect, network and communicate to advance their careers.
A Persistent Pioneer – How it began
“I’ve been on LinkedIn since way before people knew what it was, when I was living in New York City 16 years ago,” says Velco, now based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Back then it wasn’t as prominent as it is today. I put it on the backburner for a couple of years. As more clients began to mention it in casual conversation in late in 2007, I got more involved and did what most people do-I filled it out like a resume and began to prospect on it.”
As he became more involved, Velco began noticing other features of the networking service, especially the preponderance of collegiate alumni association groups listed on people’s profiles.
“I scoured LinkedIn searching for an LGBT Group and looking up very prominent LGBT community members to see if their profiles had any LGBT group listed. I found nothing,” he says. After several patient inquiries and a few months of back and forth, it turned out the site wasn’t hosting an LGBTQ networking group.
Velco contacted LinkedIn providing a strong case for an LGBT group on the site. Eventually, LinkedIn gave the green light, and Velco agreed to be the group’s owner and moderator voluntarily donating his time and resources.
He approached the project with fervor and a sense of mission. “I felt and continue to feel it is vital to have a strong open and out LGBT presence on the world’s largest professional networking site,” he says. “People are much more likely to be out on Facebook yet still hesitant to be out on LinkedIn.” At Velco’s request, all groups on LinkedIn offer the option to hide a group’s membership on public profiles.
Adding Members & Content
Once LinkedIn signed off, Velco jumped in with both feet, embracing the project, donating hours of time each day – including weekends – to building the group, taking a labor-intensive, trial-and-error approach.
“I would search LinkedIn and find profiles of people that had ‘LGBT, GLBT, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer and so forth’ in their listing and send them invitations to join the group. I’d have to be careful to weed out people who have ‘Gay’ in their names,” he says. “I then would send each person a personalized invitation to join the group.”
Building and maintaining this group has been a labor of love. “My past life partner thought I was crazy in the beginning of building it due to the amount of time and personal money I was investing in the group. The first several years I would spend anywhere from two to six hours a day combing the Internet for pertinent content to post,” Velco recalls.
“March 2018 will mark ten years that I’ve done this voluntarily,” he says.
In addition to writing pieces for the group, Velco searched international news sites to curate LGBTQ-focused, business-oriented pieces. “I would strive to stay non-political and avoid content that would alienate members,” he says. “I’d try to get global content because I didn’t want it to just be an echo chamber of U.S. and Canadian content. I can’t wait until LinkedIn gets automatic translations because I would like all members to be able to contribute, view and participate in their native language. I believe that being an English only site is a deterrent to many. Having such a feature I believe would increase member active participation.”
Nixing NSFW Content
Despite what a handful of aspiring members might think, LinkedIn is not an adjunct to Grindr or a Circuit Party Facebook page. Deflecting accusations of being sex-negative, Velco has spent a fair amount of time screening out applicants who submit genital images as their profile photos. As a business-oriented (rather than social) site, even shirtless pictures are typically verboten.
“Policing the group is important because while Facebook is typically banned at most businesses via the company internet, LinkedIn is not,” he emphasizes. I want OutBüro main site and our channels such as OutBüro on LinkedIn to remain Fortune 1000 level office friendly.
“I hold to LinkedIn’s terms of service. I’ve had to moderate and get involved with spats and even had a stalker who ended up banned from LinkedIn for life. I’ve had blatant anti-LGBT content in profiles. Every single person’s profile in the group must be reviewed by me to a degree.”
Today he’s exploring his new home town of Wilton Manors and the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area.
The group has from high school students through White House staff of both the Obama and Trump administration and every role in between. “Knowing that people at that level value the group enough to have an open LGBT or they are friendly representatives present makes me feel great. My effort to date has been well spent.”
Nevertheless, Dennis and his passionate quest continue with OutBüro being part of the evolution. He states, “I feel good because OutBüro is about helping people and companies/organization be better and make good decisions be being a resource and a tool of communication, growth, and change.”