StartOut, a 5-year-old nationwide non-profit organization for LGBT entrepreneurs, hosted its first party in Chicago Feb. 20 at the downtown headquarters of Groupon. More than 100 people networked and heard a wide-ranging discussion from a panel of four professionals.
Chris Sinton, chair of StartOut's board, was in town for the event and the group's annual meeting. He explained that they are looking to network entrepreneurs for professional support, but also as a way to give back to the community. They are looking at ways to create social activism within the LGBT entrepreneurial community.
[Photo gallery at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/photospreadthumbs.php .]
Panelists included one of StartOut's founders, Lorenzo Thione, who lives in New York. He has founded several companies and is also producing a Broadway play. One of his companies is Artify It, a disruptive venture capital-funded startup "allowing affordable, unlimited access to a catalog of original, curated contemporary art that each subscriber can check out, keep, and swap out at any time."
The moderator for the panel was Chicagoan Waverly Deutsch, clinical professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She teaches a course on entrepreneurial execution and was awarded the 2004 USASBE Innovative Teaching Pedagogy for the YourCo simulation game, "which allows students to develop and run a mock business through all phases of operation."
California-based Vivienne Ming, chief scientist at Gild and co-founder and CEO of Socos, spoke about the discrimination she faced after coming out as transgender in the workplace. She took that negative and turned it into a positive by starting her own companies. Ming, named one of 10 Women to Watch in Tech in 2013 by Inc. Magazine, is a theoretical neuroscientist, technologist and entrepreneur.
Ming intrigued the crowd by wearing a Google Glass device during the discussion. She has developing a "predictive model of diabetes to better manage blood glucose levels" for the Glass, in part because she has a child with diabetes, so the device keeps her alerted to his glucose levels. She sits on the board of Our Family Coalition supporting LBGT families and speaks on issues of LGBT inclusion and gender in technology.
The final panelist was a relative newcomer to Chicago, Joel Bosch, COO of eCD Market and an investor in Vino Volo. Bosch joined eCD Market to lead its product development, operations, and customer service. He has a lengthy career in the banking and consulting industries, and he also is working on a new company that helps generate revenues for non-profits. He sits on the board of Test Positive Aware Network in Chicago.
StartOut's website says it was created "with a view towards promoting equality and combating discrimination in the business world through economic empowerment. StartOut will help end discrimination against LGBT persons in the business community by helping foster a new generation of business founders and CEOs, and thereby breaking through the barriers that currently inhibit the corporate success of many in America's LGBT community. By helping create the next generation of LGBT entrepreneurs we empower a new community of leaders in the business world who will in turn have both the economic resources and the personal access to support and strengthen the entire LGBT community."
For information on StartOut, which will have more Chicago events soon, see startout.org .
Videos by Tracy Baim.
StartOut Chicago Event 2-20-2014 Video 1 of 4 at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .
StartOut Chicago Event 2-20-2014 Video 2 of 4 at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .
StartOut Chicago Event 2-20-2014 Video 3 of 4 at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .
StartOut Chicago Event 2-20-2014 Video 4 of 4 at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .