Whenever I read articles about the need for more diversity in tech start-ups it is with mixed feelings. While I completely agree with the sentiment that we need more than “Zuckerberg clones selling to yuppies”, the typical comment like in this Fast Company article that companies targeting a diverse market or older/ female/minority founders are “akin to a unicorn” gets to be really frustrating after the 400th time I’ve heard it.
We are diverse in every way – ethnicity, gender, age, target market.
Two of our three co-founders are female and Hispanic; two are over age fifty. Three of our employees are Native American. Four others are Hispanic. We are a spin-off from a company founded on an American Indian reservation and began our company targeting our game to schools serving predominantly Native American students (although we have received considerable interest – and some revenue – from non-native schools and families simply interested in teaching math better).
While I do appreciate the attention to the issue of diversity given by Fast Company and others, after a while, it gets old. It reminds me of when I would repeatedly hear department chairs at the university where I worked say they “…would like to hire qualified Hispanic/ African-American/ Native American professors but couldn’t find any.” It irritated me so much, I got everyone I knew who was on the job market to send me a copy of their c.v. so when someone said that, I could pull out the stack and say,
“Try looking here.”
Yes, that was back in the days when we actually had things on paper, but I’m starting to feel that we have not progressed much. I know one Native American in Belcourt, North Dakota doing a start-up aimed at travel information for people with disability. I know one start-up with a Latino founder, aimed at creating a real-time blogging tool for journalists.
These are just among my family and closest friends. I’m sure I could come up with more if I had given it more than 30 seconds of thought.
If you can’t find diversity in the start-up community, perhaps you are looking in the wrong place.