More than 90 entrepreneurs from across the country gathered in the nation's capital on Tuesday as President Barack Obama hosted the first-ever White House Demo Day to showcase business innovation.
Another goal is to empower a more diverse group of entrepreneurs to support "inclusive entrepreneurship," or the notion that starting a business can be an option for anyone—regardless of background, race, gender or age.
"Unfortunately in the United States, less than 3 percent of the venture-backed companies are led by women, and less than 1 percent are founded by African-Americans," U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith said in an interview with CNBC. "So we really have to open up the access to money to all these extraordinary entrepreneurs to fuel our economy, fuel job growth."
To be clear, unlike a traditional private-sector demo day, entrepreneurs weren't pitching potential investors.
As part of Demo Day, the White House also announced several related initiatives, including commitments to advance opportunities for women and minorities. The 40 venture capital firms include Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers. The group collectively will also track VC diversity and will share survey results with the public.
Additionally, big-name tech companies including Google, Amazon.com and Box are stepping up to promote diversity withintheir work forces. Facebook is promising to include more women- and minority-owned ventures Facebook does business with in its supply chain.
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