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Beyond the Pitch

Startup Scaleup: Kare Intellex and OYE! Awarded $25,000 Validation Investments

Two Rev1 client companies, Kare Intellex and OYE! were each awarded $25,000 in validation investments from the nationally recognized non-profit Jumpstart Inc. The announcement was made at the Startup Scaleup Conference held in Cleveland in June.

In Crain’s Cleveland Business, JumpStart CEO Ray Leach noted that these awards are part of JumpStart’s efforts to broaden its focus to accelerate or advance ambitious and diverse entrepreneurs to transform entire communities.

These firms are two of the 28 percent of Rev1’s client portfolio that are women and/or minority led.

Four of us from Rev1 went to Startup Scaleup to celebrate Kare Intellex and OYE! as they presented their business plans and to learn more about what other regions are doing to accelerate diversity.

Here were our takeaways:

  • To achieve diversity, programs and initiatives have to reach deep into different communities. You can’t just talk to the organizations and leaders that you’re used to talking with—an organization has to branch out into new territory.
  • When the talk is on diversity, the audience looks at female and minority representation, among the presenters, on the Board, and in the management team of the sponsoring organization(s). Diversity begets diversity.
  • 59 percent of minority entrepreneurs reported that they had a negative experience going to venture capital companies—this stat was quoted by a venture capitalist as a wake-up call to the industry to change its approach to diversity or miss out on potentially good deals.

Research proves that diverse boards and management teams outperform others by orders of magnitude. That’s because diversity of experience and background brings in more perspectives that improve your probability of success—especially when the business is a startup that will likely need to iterate over and over to get it right.

For me, the most thought provoking takeaway grew from a discussion started at the event and carried on during our drive home—a discussion of the difference between diversity and inclusion.

Diversity is the numbers part of it—the percentages of men, women, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and so on. Inclusion is a mindset.

Inclusion asks the question: are we really engaging all the different perspectives and experience of all the people at the table? An organization can be diverse, but if everyone isn’t included in the company’s operations and the way decisions get made, the organization can’t realize the benefits of having a diverse team.

It is energizing to see communities and regions as different as Columbus and Cleveland rallying around the topic of inclusion and diversity. This is a great opportunity to see what we can make happen in Ohio when we put thought and muscle behind it.

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JumpStart is a nationally recognized nonprofit accelerating the success of diverse entrepreneurs, their high growth companies, and ecosystems supporting them. A partnership between public and private entities in Northeast Ohio, JumpStart provides intensive, high-impact assistance to diverse entrepreneurs and small businesses owners, working one-on-one to establish and achieve value-creating milestones of growth.

Startup Scaleup, an amazing day of learning, networking, and celebrating Northeast Ohio’s vibrant, entrepreneurial community.

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