America’s startup culture tells us that anyone can bring forward the next big idea. Yet, all too often women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color are left on the sidelines.

  • Did you know less than 10% of venture-backed companies have at least one woman founder (PitchBook)?
  • Would you believe that less than 1% of venture-backed companies have an African-American founder (CB Insights)?
  • But were you aware that companies with diverse leadership teams provide greater returns for investors (HBR)?

It’s time to change the narrative of how we talk about entrepreneurs in American culture. It’s time to break down the stereotypes of who can be an entrepreneur and correct the outdated myths of what an entrepreneur can look like. It’s time to lift up all entrepreneurs—regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, economic background or geographic location—in order to create stronger communities, close the opportunity gap and scale creative solutions to persistent problems.

#FacesofFounders is searching for dynamic entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, and particularly entrepreneurs of color and women founders, who are key to driving innovation and job growth in the U.S. The photos and stories showcased in this campaign will shine a spotlight on the millions of diverse entrepreneurs in America and reinforce the importance of an inclusive approach to entrepreneurship. Together, we can change the perception of who is and can be an entrepreneur.

#FacesofFounders is powered by the Case Foundation, Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Google for Entrepreneurs and UBS, in partnership with Fast Company.

Additional promotional support is provided by Black Enterprise and Latina Media Ventures.

FAQ

  • What is #FacesofFounders?

    #FacesofFounders is searching for America’s dynamic entrepreneurs, and particularly entrepreneurs of color and women founders, who are key to driving innovation and job growth. Participants can upload their photos and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to also tell their story to be eligible to win one of five awards, including a sponsored story on FastCompany.com.

  • How can I participate?

    Anyone can participate in the #FacesofFounders campaign!

    • Step 1 – UPLOAD YOUR PHOTO: Entrepreneurs and their allies are invited to upload their photo, choose a caption of what entrepreneurship means to them and share the image on social media.
    • Step 2 – SUBMIT YOUR STORY: Entrepreneurs are encouraged to answer a series of questions detailing their entrepreneurial journey. Five entrepreneurs will have the opportunity for a sponsored story on FastCompany.com!
    • Step 3 – SHARE THE CAMPAIGN: Know an entrepreneur who should be part of the movement to support all entrepreneurs? Share FacesofFounders.org with your network!

    Don’t forget to come back to FacesofFounders.org in January to see who is selected and what they are working on!

  • What are the dates of #FacesofFounders?

    #FacesofFounders kicks off at 12:01 pm ET on Sunday, October 2, 2016, and closes on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. The entry period for stories will close on November 22, 2016, at 3:00 pm ET. The recipients of the final awards will be announced on or around January 20, 2017.

  • How do I get started?

    We invite both entrepreneurs and their allies to share their photo, choose a caption of what entrepreneurship means to them and share the photo via social media. Entrepreneurs can then tell their story by answering three brief questions detailing their entrepreneurial journey.

  • Who is eligible to participate?

    Anyone over the age of 14 who supports entrepreneurial networks is invited to participate in the photo submission portion of the campaign. Whether you are a founder of a startup, a champion or investor who believes that diverse founders are driving innovation in our nation, your participation will help shine a spotlight on the millions of diverse entrepreneurs in America and the benefits of inclusive entrepreneurship.

    Only self-identified entrepreneurs over the age of 14 residing in the United States are invited to submit their story and will be considered for awards. Submissions must be written in English. Those submitting a story may be at any stage, including:

    • Early stage, but with plans to launch their startup
    • Seed or later stage development of their company
    • An entrepreneur who has successfully exited their venture
  • What types of startup stories are you looking for?

    We are interested in hearing a wide variety of stories. The campaign will ultimately highlight five entrepreneurs representing various stages of the entrepreneurial journey that include, but are not limited to:

    • Early stage, but with plans to launch their startup
    • Seed or later stage development of their company
    • An entrepreneur who has successfully exited their venture

    Reviewers will be looking for compelling narratives, a variety of experiences, founders that reflect different phases of progress in their startup and entrepreneurs who are committed to advancing an inclusive approach to entrepreneurship. The Case Foundation reserves the right to determine the final five awardees based on a mix of these criteria.

  • How are you selecting the awardees?

    #FacesofFounders is looking for five entrepreneurs who embody an inclusive approach to entrepreneurship and represent various stages of an entrepreneur’s journey. These stories are meant to shine a light on diverse entrepreneurs and to influence how entrepreneurs are portrayed and supported in our culture. The overall narrative is meant to catalyze a movement for leveling the playing field for all entrepreneurs from all places.

    Each story submitted by a founder will be scored by the reviewers based on answers to the following three questions:

    • “Tell us about your business. What problem are you trying to solve?”
    • “What has been the biggest obstacle in your entrepreneurship journey?”
    • “Why do you believe diversifying entrepreneurship is important?

    A panel of reviewers will consider the following questions when selecting the awardees:

    • Has the founder shown any helpful or original methods to overcome common barriers for diverse entrepreneurs?
    • Did the founder use original or atypical methods to start or fund their company?
    • What will other founders or aspiring entrepreneurs learn from this story?
    • How original is this business idea?
    • Is this a scalable business?
    • Does this business have the chance to be job-creating and community-building?
    • Is this founder motivated and passionate about making a change in the world?
    • How does this founder and/or business contribute to advancing inclusive entrepreneurship?


    Reviewers will be looking for compelling narratives, a variety of experiences, founders that reflect different phases of progress in their startup and entrepreneurs who are committed to advancing an inclusive approach to entrepreneurship. The Case Foundation reserves the right to determine the final five awardees based on a mix of these criteria.

  • What awards are available?

    The five winners will each be profiled in a five-part sponsored series on FastCompany.com showing the diverse backgrounds and business approaches of entrepreneurs today.

  • Are there awards associated with the photo submissions?

    No, the photo submissions are not eligible for any awards. The awards are reserved only for those entrepreneurs who submit a story.

  • Can I submit a business idea that I haven’t executed yet?

    Early stage founders should demonstrate an understanding of their market opportunity, profitability and growth strategy. Please be aware that any information or materials that you consider trade secrets, confidential or proprietary should not be submitted to us. Any information or materials that you provide to us will not be considered confidential or proprietary and will not be returned or safeguarded.

  • When is the deadline to submit?

    Entrepreneur stories will be accepted from 12:01pm ET on Sunday, October 2, 2016, to 3:01pm ET on Tuesday, November 22, 2016.

  • When will I know if my story is a winner?

    Final winners will be announced on or around January 20, 2017. If you are a final winner, we will notify you at that time and follow up with more details on next steps to feature your story.

  • Do I have to be an entrepreneur to submit a story?

    Yes, we will only accept stories from entrepreneurs who have founded, exited or are in the early ideas stages of founding a startup. Entrepreneurs must be 14 years of age or older. If you aren’t an entrepreneur, but know someone whose story should be told, please share the campaign with them!

  • How do I know if my story was accepted into the competition?

    If your story was accepted, you will be directed to a confirmation page that thanks you for submitting. You will also get an email from the Case Foundation within a week confirming your entry.

  • When will the awards be distributed?

    Awards will be distributed after the winners have been finalized on or around January 20, 2017.

  • Will my company receive an investment?

    The #FacesofFounders campaign is not an investment vehicle. Participation in the #FacesofFounders campaign does not imply endorsement by the Foundation. All entrepreneurs and companies profiled are for informational and educational purposes only. While we welcome entrepreneurs to tell us how their company is changing the world, any information or materials that you consider trade secrets, confidential or proprietary should not be submitted to us. Any information or materials that you provide to us will not be considered confidential or proprietary and will not be returned or safeguarded.

  • What is the Case Foundation?

    Established by tech pioneers Jean and Steve Case, the Case Foundation invests in people and ideas that can change the world. The Foundation applies a Be Fearless approach to catalyzing movements around social innovation by revolutionizing philanthropy, unleashing entrepreneurship and igniting civic engagement. To learn more, visit http://casefoundation.org/

  • What is Blackstone Charitable Foundation?

    The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s IPO in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas nationwide and globally. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities. For more information, see http://www.blackstone.com/foundation.

  • What is Google for Entrepreneurs?

    Google for Entrepreneurs provides financial support and the best of Google’s resources to dozens of coworking spaces and community programs across 125 countries. We also create Campuses: physical hubs where entrepreneurs can learn, connect, and build companies that will change the world. To learn more about Google for Entrepreneurs, visit google.com/entrepreneurs.

  • What is UBS?

    UBS Partner Details and Link: UBS is committed to bringing the right resources, to the right businesses, to help spur economic growth and contribute to a more inclusive landscape for founders everywhere. In addition to our flagship program, Project Entrepreneur, we maintain long-standing partnerships with organizations like Venture for America and VEDC. For more information, visit www.ubs.com/elevatingentreprenuers


    Special thanks to wocintechchat.com for the use of select photography featured on this site.