Leveling the Playing Field for LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs

with Andres Wydler of StartOut

LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs can face challenges raising capital and funding and accessing professional networks.

Andres Wydler, Executor Director of StartOut, joins host Tetiana Anderson to discuss a tool that quantifies the unrealized potential of high-growth entrepreneurs and improves job creation for the LGBTQ+ community.

Posted on:

Jan 02, 2023

Hosted by: Tetiana Anderson
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Anderson: A 2020 Supreme Court ruling protects employees from being fired based on gender or sexual orientation on a federal level. However, LGBTQ+ business owners do not necessarily have protections from discrimination. Hello, and welcome to Comcast Newsmakers. I'm Tetiana Anderson. Startups face many challenges from operations to raising capital. For LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, those challenges are compounded by discrimination, lack of protections, and an uneven playing field. Joining me to talk about the impact of these businesses today compared to what they could be with a level playing field is Andres Wydler, executive director of StartOut. Andres, thanks so much for joining me.

Wydler: Thank you so much for having me, Tetiana.

Anderson: Statistically speaking, how much of a problem is this kind of situation in the business world?

Wydler: Well, it's actually a huge issue. In the last 20 years alone, for example, over 350,000 jobs could have been created by LGBQ entrepreneurs. So that number alone, right, is staggering, and those jobs, they're not just for LGBQ community but they're for society as a whole. So it's a big issue. It's not only the right thing to do to fix that, of course, but it's of an economic imperative to get this right.

Anderson: And behind those numbers are actual real people, real businesses. Can you share an anecdote to just help us understand how real this actually is?

Wydler: Well, absolutely, and thank you for asking that. Because, yes, we always talk numbers, but in the end, it's all about people. So, yes, just Juan Tipno, for example, phenomenal company that he wanted to build, but he was out of Georgia and it just didn't work for him, so he came to us to San Francisco. Now he's in New York and he's built an incredibly powerful business, got all the funding he needed, and is employing, you know, dozens of people. So that's just one example of the 25,000 members that we have in our community.

Anderson: So the StartOut Pride Economic Index is really part of leveling this playing field. Explain what it is and how it works.

Wydler: Yeah, it's really a seminal project for the LGBQ community. What we're doing is we're following 137,000 businesses and we're measuring what they contribute to the economy in terms of jobs, funding, exits, and innovation is measured by granted patents. What we're then also doing, we're figuring out which ones of those entrepreneurs are LGBQ, and female, and also people of color. What we measure then is the actual contributions, and very interestingly, the missed opportunities or their unrealized potential of those entrepreneurs compared to their peers. We're measuring what the unrealized potential could have been with equal access to resources.

Anderson: So you've looked at what those contributions could have been. You quantified this. What did you find?

Wydler: So it is quite shocking, actually, and huge opportunity for progress. So out of the $2.1 trillion that were invested in growth companies over the last 20 years, only 0.5%, or about 10 billion, got invested into LGBQ companies. So that's a tiny, tiny, tiny portion of the money. Same if you look geographically, we found that in roughly 40, about 43%, actually, of the metropolitan areas with at least 50 high-growth entrepreneurs. There was not a single one of them who identified as LGBTQ. So these are huge gaps which also means huge opportunities for those communities to improve the situation.

Anderson: So whether it's a business owned by a person of color, or someone from a particular religion, or from the LGBTQ+ community. Why is it important for us as a nation to really support them as opposed to punishing them?

Wydler: Well, first of all, it's the right thing to do. I guess most of us would agree. But also economically, quantitatively from a macroeconomic perspective, we need everyone who's capable and passionate to build jobs, to create jobs, to build success, and participate in our economy. This is not a zero-sum game, right? If someone's who is capable and has the right idea doesn't get supported because of extraneous circumstances, that business is lost on the United States economy. It just doesn't get done until either that opportunity, that business, that technology doesn't get, you know, to the market, or someone in another country might capitalize on it. So for the economy as a whole, it's incredibly important, especially as we rebuild the economy, to give everyone equal access to those opportunities.

Anderson: This is a topic I know that people are going to be talking about. They're going to want to know more. What's your website? Where can they go?

Wydler: Thank you. It's www.startout.org - and the index is at startout.org/speii, as in StartOut Pride Economic Impact Index. It's free to use, has tons and tons of data. You can look at it all kind of different ways, municipalities, states, jobs, industries, and so on. So it's a treasure trove of information that we hope you'll use to level the playing field.

Anderson: Andres Wydler of StartOut, thank you so much for being here.

Wydler: Thank you so much for having me, Tetiana.

Anderson: And thanks to our viewers, as well, for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.

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