What you do matters to funders – sometimes who you are does, too

Midwest entrepreneurs discuss inequalities with securing startup funding.

Today I’m continuing the conversation from yesterday and offering insight from Midwest entrepreneurs about tech startup financing. In particular, the entrepreneurs I spoke with addressed the differences they’ve noticed between funding for Midwest projects and those based in coastal tech hubs.

Several of them mentioned issues with unequal funding practices. Low-income status, gender, and race all came up as barriers to securing the same kind of funding that peers receive.

  • Some entrepreneurs “do not have the fortune to go to your parents or someone and get a loan. A lot of people say ‘go to your family and friends,’ but not everyone has family and friends who have money,” said Andre Johnson, founder of LiveEquipd, a platform to help people with disabilities find quality supportive equipment.
  • “I hear a lot of the female CEOs in my network have a harder time with fundraising than their peers,” Katie Kolhoff, CEO of NUMiX Materials, a company removes heavy metals from industrial wastewater and recovers the metals.
  • “Women get 2.3% of venture capital funding on a whole… At first, I didn’t pay it much attention and thought that’s ridiculous. But I have found it to be harder than I anticipated. There is a gender bias, that’s clear,” said Angie Conley, CEO of Abilitech, a company that designs supportive devices for people with arm disabilities.
  • “I think sometimes Asian Americans get overlooked in the minority space because we have this reputation of being hard workers and successful. When programs out there are allocated for minorities, even though they’re accepting Asian American applications, I feel like sometimes there may be some inequality,” said John Yi, co-founder of NextME, a waitlist management app.

Do you have other insight about financing for Midwest tech business? Let me know so I can highlight it in a future newsletter. Email katie@centered.tech or connect on Twitter @centereddottech to share ideas.

Today’s tech headlines:

  • Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy will be the first pilot project partner for Form Energy, a Bill Gates-backed energy storage startup. The technology for the pilot is called an “aqueous air” battery system, which has long-duration energy storage of up to 150 hours. (Greentech Media)
  • Argonne National Laboratories researchers in Lemont, Illinois, released what is touted as a pivotal study for 3D printing, suggesting it is possible to 3D print metal items without the tiny pores that weaken product integrity. They say the laser powder bed fusion process can be done with existing technology. (Argonne National Laboratory)
  • University of Pennsylvania researchers developed “metal-air scavenger” technology through which machines would power themselves by seeking out and “eating” metals in the environment, then breaking down the chemical bonds for energy. They see potential for this technology to power Internet of Things devices. (Future TV)

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