Tech Equity Working Group’s 2023 Scaling Pilots
Spinning out projects incubated in GET Cities’ Tech Equity Working Group
With a total investment of $1M, GET Cities has identified five promising initiatives in partnership with the collaborating organizations of the Tech Equity Working Group (TEWG). These pilots have been carefully selected to drive meaningful change in the tech sector by fostering equity, inclusivity, and opportunity for every entrepreneur.
These pilot programs showcase the innovative approaches we're taking to address the challenges faced by underrepresented groups in the tech industry. Our goal is to transform these initiatives from small initiatives into fully integrated, scalable solutions within our partner organizations, thereby amplifying their impact and creating a more equitable landscape in the tech sector.
A TOTAL OF A
INVESTMENT INTO INCLUSIVITY
Chicago Venture Fellows
This four-month intervention, led by Chicago:Blend, brings together aspiring VCs from marginalized backgrounds and gives them the unique opportunity to learn more about sourcing and evaluating deal flow through hands-on experience, personalized mentorship, and lessons from top VCs and tech leaders. Since its launch in 2021, Chicago Venture Fellows has trained 30 fellows across three cohorts, with nine of those fellows securing coveted positions in VC.
We’re proud to expand funding for the program throughout 2023-2024, which will include hiring a full-time coordinator and adding 30 fellows while continuing to diversify investors and local deal flow.
Learn more about Chicago Venture Fellows here.
TechRise and TechChicago
After piloting gender-focused aspects of TechRise’s pitch competition, TEWG will sponsor future rounds of TechRise, led by P33, to support women, trans and nonbinary founders that seek increased access to the connections, capital, and community needed to elevate their efforts. They are also dedicating funding to collaborating with founders through P33’s Speed Round, an initiative where founders receive personalized feedback from advisors and investors.
P33’s network of founders also have access to tailored VC introductions through the newly launched TechChicago CommonApp, and initiatives like the inaugural two-day Capital Summit during the 2023 TechChicago Week featuring track-based programming and curated 1:1 meetings. Learn more about TechRise here and TechChicago here.
Chicago Tech Equity Desk
As part of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago, The Polsky Exchange will lead the Chicago Tech Equity Desk to connect South Side entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow their business. With additional support from Verizon, this year’s 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 Tech Equity Desk will place 20 University of Chicago student interns in local South Side businesses to further help founders tech enable their internal processes or amplify their digital presence. Beyond the immediate impact on the estimated 52 businesses participating in this iteration of the Tech Equity Desk, the broader business community will be invited to attend events and lectures on tech enablement as an integral part of growth strategy for new and growing ventures.
Learn more about The Polsky Exchange here.
Travel Funding and Entrepreneur Exchange
World Business Chicago (WBC) will organize a series of travel funding and entrepreneurship exchanges that utilize their network of international sister city relationships and domestic business partnerships to plan impactful trips during scheduled conferences for diverse female and non-binary founders. The series kicked off with travel to GET Cities hub Miami, and will introduce 50 diverse founders to introductions 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.
Learn more about World Business Chicago here.
Venture Engine Executive Founders Series
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. Learn more about ISTC here.