Largest Startup Pitch for Underrepresented Founders Comes to Chicago Thanks to American Family Insurance

CHICAGO (3/4/2020) – The Startup Runway Foundation is pleased to announce its first pitch event in Chicago, May 21, thanks to presenting sponsor American Family Insurance. Founded in 2016, Startup Runway is the largest pitch competition series in the country for underrepresented founders. Its mission is introducing underrepresented founders to their first investors. Historically, Startup Runway Finalists are six times more likely to successfully raise a seed round. One in three Finalists go on to raise capital after the free program.

“We’re excited to announce two startup and investor events for the Chicago community this year, in addition to the ones we run in Atlanta,” says Lisa Calhoun, general partner at Valor Ventures, the venture capital firm that created the Startup Runway Foundation. The nonprofit Startup Runway Foundation focuses on discovering top startups led by diverse teams. Diverse teams return 30% more capital to investors on average, according to a Kauffman Fellows study of 20,000 startups over ten years. While 40% of tech startups pitching for venture capital are led by underrepresented founders such as women and founders of color, they receive less than 5% of venture capital investments. The Startup Runway Foundation introduces promising startups led by underrepresented founders to professional investors through a competitive pitch competition and a mentoring program free for underrepresented founders.

“The American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact is honored to be the presenting sponsor for the Chicago series. Supporting communities and entrepreneurship across the country is another way that we demonstrate our commitment to seeing everyone’s dreams be fulfilled,” says Nyra Jordan, Social Impact Investment Director at the institute.

Applications for startups led by underrepresented founders to pitch at the inaugural event are now open. The pitch competition will be May 21 at mHub Chicago. Ayeshah Abuelhiga, founder of Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. will deliver the keynote, sharing her story of how she raised millions of dollars to build a national frozen biscuits brand. In addition to Valor Ventures, venture capital firms committed to attend include Chicago Ventures, Lightship Capital and Rising America Fund and VitalizeVC. Startups and ecosystem activators are welcome to attend–tickets are on sale while supplies last.

About Startup Runway

The Startup Runway Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is the largest pitch event in the country for underrepresented founders. The mission of Startup Runway is to introduce top under-represented founders to their first professional investor. Under-represented founders lead 40% of all startups, yet receive less than 5% of venture capital. Since its inception in 2016, Finalists in the program have been six times more successful at finding funding. One in three founders who pitched at Startup Runway successfully raised at least a seed round. More here: