Microsoft for Startups is teaming up with Backstage Capital and Black & Brown Founders to empower diverse startups by providing resources to support underrepresented founders. The program—launched by Microsoft in February—will commit cloud technology, training, mentorship, and over $6 million in sponsorship.
“At Microsoft we’re also focused on creating much greater diversity within our startup ecosystem, said Jeana Jorgensen, general manager for the commerce and ecosystems team at Microsoft. “We fundamentally believe great ideas come from anywhere and have repeatedly found that diversity fuels innovation.”
Less than 10 percent of all venture capital deals go to women, people of color, and LGBT founders, despite research showing how diverse founding teams perform better.
Earlier this month, Backstage announced plans to launch accelerators in Los Angeles, London, Philadelphia and a fourth city (which will be finalized by public vote). Microsoft for Startups will serve as the technology and business partner of Backstage Capital’s new accelerator program.
The program will sponsor Black & Brown Founders’ Project NorthStar, a 3-day tech conference in Philadelphia that provides opportunities for entrepreneurs and professionals from the Black and Latinx community.
Additionally, Microsoft for Startups will over companies identified by these two organizations technical support and dedicated resources to prepare marketing and sales teams in partnership with Microsoft’s global sales organization and partner ecosystem.
“I wanted to take action to create much greater diversity in our investments, including founders of color,” Jorgensen told Fast Company. “What made Arlan stand out is her approach to changing the industry.”