Just three percent of America’s venture capital-backed startups are led by women, and only around one percent are led by minorities. But as we saw over and over again last week during the 2016 Inclusive Enterprise Series, this is not for lack of good ideas and great entrepreneurs.
Last week in Miami, Village Capital kicked off its series of three local forums designed to spur economic and business development. Working with Citi Community Development and Florida International University’s Small Business Development Center, Village Capital brought together 11 financial technology startups from the Miami tri-state area to develop and pitch their companies.
The purpose of the series is to train and highlight leading minority- and women-owned startups where their numbers are traditionally underrepresented. In Miami, financial technology startups learned from “serial” entrepreneurs, small business consultants, local incubators, tech investors, and each other how to build a successful company.
The day’s curriculum was based on Village Capital’s Financial Inclusion core program, which will take place May through July in 2016. Entrepreneurs spent the morning working with mentors on their value proposition and getting feedback from mentors on how to sharpen their four-line value prop pitch.
Our lunch keynote speaker, Serge Elkiner of Yellow Pepper Co, spoke with entrepreneurs about why he chose to return to and stay in Miami. He explained how the startup ecosystem in Miami is great for a first time or serial entrepreneur. His advice? “Don’t fear failure — Step back and adapt to the needs of your stakeholders.”
In the afternoon, companies sat with several mentors at a time to go over their board meeting agendas and ran mock sessions. A core value of the forum was getting startups ready to not only pitch to investors, but also maintain meaningful relationships with them.
With a packed room of about 200 community members, investors, startups, and partners, entrepreneurs pitched their companies — some for the very first time. The two pitch winners — DocuVital and VestMunity — were selected by the forum cohort and audience, respectively. “It was probably the most I’ve learned in a one day session ever as an entrepreneur,” VestMunity founder Yemani Mason said.
With future Inclusive Enterprise Forum events on the horizon, Village Capital and Citi Community Development are proud to work with diverse cohorts of entrepreneurs solving global problems. Next up: we travel to San Francisco to train entrepreneurs that are working on improving health outcomes for financially vulnerable patients. Stay tuned!