Entrepreneurship is one of the greatest gateways to autonomy for people who have been historically excluded. We work to increase access to capital and capital deployment for these people to accelerate equity in the industry at large.
From building thoughtful and impactful cohorts and connections to increasing access to capital and training a new generation of VCs, we’ve piloted and hosted initiatives across cities designed to close the gaps and increase the intersectionality in entrepreneurship.
This initiative was designed to help marginalized entrepreneurs navigate one of the most crucial phases for startups: the seed phase. From facilitating introductions between founders and venture capitalists to organizing PR and marketing efforts, TEWG helped nine founders take targeted steps towards their next fundraising milestones while simultaneously helping TEWG develop resources and consolidate efforts with real-time founder input.
Initially piloted in the Tech Equity Working Group, Entrepreneur Exchange is now hosted at World Business Chicago (WBC) to organize a series of travel opportunities and entrepreneurship exchanges across cities like San Francisco, Toronto and Miami . The newest version of the intervention will introduce 50 founders from historically excluded communities to venture capitalists, potential funding opportunities, and access to exclusive programming. As part of this initiative, these founders, along with other delegations of founders in the destination cities and from World Business Chicago’s Startup Chicago program, will build warm connections across VC and new markets for partners and customers.
Venture Fellows helps aspiring venture capital professionals from historically excluded backgrounds break into the industry. From offering top-tier tech education to 1:1 mentorship, participants are provided hands-on experience to help establish themselves in the field, practice deal flow, and secure work in VC. This intervention was initially incubated in the Tech Equity Working Group and is now hosted at our partner organization Chicago:Blend.
Connecting Chicago’s South Side entrepreneurs with the technology support and tools they need to grow their businesses. This intervention started as a Tech Equity Working Group pilot and is now led by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago, with support from Verizon. The 2023 scaled version of this initiative consists of two parts: the E-Commerce Learning Lab which brings e-commerce training and fulfillment support to 20 products-based businesses through 37 Oaks, and the Web Dev Shop supplying 12 businesses a grant for upgraded web services, web design, and digital storytelling through contracts with diverse tech vendors.
The Venture Engine Executive Founders Series run by the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC) is intended to develop meaningful connections between startup founders in Chicago and corporate executives. Its primary objective is to assist founders in establishing relationships with clients, investors, and corporate connections that are typically difficult to source through a series of themed networking opportunities. Founders will participate in networking dinners that offer introductions to seasoned subject-matter-experts, corporate and ecosystem partners, and venture capitalists. Diverse founders from ISTC’s Venture Engine, an online platform connecting startups to the state’s most innovative corporations, will also benefit from access to premiere events to support efforts to further diversify the tech ecosystem.
Collaborate with us on our entrepreneurship interventions.