Startups Who Pitched To The President

IN MANY WAYS, it was just like any other demo day, with founder after founder, alternately dressed in t-shirts or suits, giving their standard spiels about their startups? accomplishments and hyping the long-term business opportunities they?re pursuing. They talked about their degrees from MIT, where they got seed funding, and the personal journeys that brought them to their businesses.

It was the standard fare, except that these founders weren?t pitching angel investors and venture capitalists. They were pitching President Obama. In the White House.

So yeah, Demo Day at the White House?the first in its history?was a little different than demo day at, say, Y Combinator. But, then again, it was supposed to be. The goal of this event, which kicked off on Tuesday and convened 90 entrepreneurs from across the country, wasn?t to raise funding. It was to raise awareness?awareness about the glaring absence of women and minorities in the tech sector and the toll that takes on the U.S. economy.

?There?s never been a better time to launch an idea and bring it to scale right here in the United States right now,? President Obama said to a room full of entrepreneurs and industry leaders. ?But we?ve got to make sure we take advantage of this moment by tapping all the talent America has to offer no matter who they are or where they set up shop.?

Not Good for Business

Standing behind the President as he delivered his address were more than a dozen business owners. They included Christopher Ategeka, the Ugandan-born founder of Privail, which makes rapid response HIV tests, as well as Privahini Bradoo, founder of BlueOak Resources, an e-waste recycling company that WIRED covered last year. The majority of the founders were either women, minorities, or both, and that was no accident. All of them were hand-picked and summoned to the White House to serve as examples of the valuable talent the tech community too often leaves behind. As President Obama noted, only around 3 percent of venture-backed companies today are led by women; just 1 percent of them are founded by African-Americans.

Read more at?WIRED