I still remember my first pitch — my heart pounding, palms damp with anticipation. As my presentation and the business talk concluded, the personal questions began. I was asked, “Do you have a wife?” It was like being asked if I’d ever been to the moon.

I ended up sidestepping the question, a choice I’m ashamed of. But it also led me to a valuable lesson: I can succeed professionally while openly embracing my authentic self. 

Ten years later at Crunchbase, I put that lesson into practice. As director of business development and strategic partnerships, I found myself drawn to the company’s Diversity Spotlight program because of its focus on uplifting underrepresented communities. The commitment to race, ethnicity and gender diversity was remarkable, and it prompted me to see an opportunity to extend this focus to the LGBTQ+ community.

To bring this idea to life, my team and I created an opt-in Diversity Spotlight tag with verification that gave company leaders and founders a choice to identify as an “LGBTQ+ Led” or “LGBTQ+ Founded” company. While this may seem like a simple addition, its impact on LGBTQ+ founders and leaders is far from small. Our goal is for this initiative to become a beacon of visibility in an entrepreneurial landscape that often overlooks them.

Still, visibility is just the start. While data on LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs is sparse, a report by StartOut found that a mere 0.5% of startup funding goes to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, even though they make up 7.1% of the U.S. population.

At Crunchbase, we also aim to enact real change by: 

  • Raising awareness for the funding needs of LGBTQ+ founders.
  • Providing data on funding trends within the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Offering transparency into investment firms’ LGBTQ+ funding activities.

Despite the inequity in funding, the LGBTQ+ community is not defined by the limitations placed upon us. We are tenacious and resilient, navigating societal expectations and carving our own distinct paths. Importantly, we punch above our weight in the business world. According to the data from StartOut, LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs create 36% more jobs, file 114% more patents, and lead 44% more successful business exits.

As strong as our community is, we can’t do this alone. We need your active participation and support. Here’s how you can help:

1. If you are a member of the community, opt in for the Crunchbase LGBTQ+ Led or LGBTQ+ Founded tag.
2. Share this initiative with founders, entrepreneurs and investors in your network.
3. Encourage them to self-identify and tag their business.

Join us in our mission to use our collective influence to create a future where every entrepreneur, regardless of their identity, receives the support they deserve. 

  • Originally published June 21, 2023