I’ve never really experienced Washington, D.C. aside from a family vacation there about 20 years ago, but that all changed when I was invited to attend the White House Demo Day — where innovators around the country pitched their ideas to none other than President Barack Obama.
The event was hosted by Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer for the United States, as part of the SocialMedia.org contingent of digital marketers from some of the world’s largest companies. I was invited to participate in this event to represent Coldwell Banker Real Estate, and obviously when you are invited to a meeting at the White House, you can’t help but be excited. So I packed up my things, boarded the Acela (which I now LOVE!) and headed to our Capital.
Tuesday’s event started when we assembled at the compound gates and walked through several security checkpoints before entering a White House. This was exciting and intense to say the least. Our meeting room adorned with pictures of the President. (I of course took the opportunity to take a quick selfie with one of the pictures so that I could report back to family and friends that I did indeed get a selfie with President Obama J) As I sat there soaking in every second of this unique opportunity I decided within about 20 minutes this day had already solidified its spot on my top 10 life experiences list. It was only made more special when Megan entered the room accompanied by a diverse group of some of the brightest entrepreneurs from our nation who she and President Obama invited to showcase their startups and shed light on how important the entrepreneurial spirit is to the future of America.
Here are two of the entrepreneurs who really stood out to me:
Telegraph Academy is the premier Software Engineering bootcamp for people of color underrepresented in tech. Albrey is making a major impact in the tech space for African Americans and is someone to keep your eye on. He is definitely going places!
Alexandra and Kathryn of Muse are changing the game for career advice and placement for the next generation of the workforce. Check out their site that is catered to the way millennials think and search at TheMuse.com. Great job today ladies!
In her opening remarks Megan focused on the importance of welcoming women and ethnic groups into the entrepreneurial ecosystem. She cited several eye opening statistics:
- Just three percent of America’s venture capital-backed startups are led by women
- Less than one percent of America’s venture capital-backed startups are led by African-Americans
- Four percent of U.S.-based venture capital investors are women
- Of 300 companies surveyed in a recent case study those with a woman leader performed 63% better than all male teams.
Then came one of the things that stood out to me the most…
Inclusivity is not only the right fair thing to do, it is also the most profitable.
As a woman who works in tech I was really happy to hear this message coming from the White House. I was also thrilled knowing my industry is a shining beacon of how to do it right. Our gender make up is exactly what Megan is looking for. Women make up 58% of our workforce. And like my company, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, showcases with support of the Asian Real Estate Association of America, the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, and the Young Professionals Network, I left our White House Demo day with a sense of extreme pride to know that I am working in an industry that is keeping the American Dream of entrepreneurship alive.
Thank you to Megan Smith for this incredible invitation (and the pic!) and to socialmedia.org for allowing Coldwell Banker Real Estate to have a seat at the table.