Update: #ProjectDiane Kickstarter Campaign, #RewriteTheCode Hits $25,000 Goal In Less Than Two Days

June 12, 2015  |  


Original Report By Janel Martinez- 6/2/2015:
Women (and several men) gathered at Etsy headquarters in Brooklyn, New York last Thursday for the kickoff of Digital Undivided’s Innovation Thursday series with Etsy’s Director of Seller Development Kimm Alfonso. The intimate conversation touched on various points, from Etsy’s education programs and creating an engaged network to going from seller to Etsy staffer and the company’s IPO.

In addition to the evening’s conversation, Digital Undivided’s Managing Director Kathryn Finney had an announcement: The social enterprise would launch its Kickstarter campaign for Project Diane on June 1.

Named after Civil Rights leader Diane Nash (she was co-founder of SNCC), Project Diane is an initiative designed to disrupt the long-standing issue of pattern matching within the technology industry by identifying diverse founders of startups and tech companies. Initially, Project Diane’s goal was to identify and capture data surrounding women founders of color and, ultimately, promote and connect this growing demographic within the space. Now, however, Project Diane has entered a new phase, #ReWriteTheCode. This includes a Kickstarter campaign to help create a documentary film on intersectionality in tech.

“We started off just collecting the names, and we still are, of Black women who are founders or co-founders of startups,” Finney, who credits 2014 FOCUS Fellow Brit Fitzpatrick for putting the initial stages of #ProjectDiane in motion, told MadameNoire. “Then we started to do some research ourselves trying to find people.”

The results have been very interesting, says Finney, who started DID in 2012. Of the 300 companies that’ve submitted themselves into the database, the majority are not technically considered startups, which is an interesting challenge for the Black and Latino community. (The term startup, while often debated, refers to a company designed to scale very quickly. For example, consultancies aren’t seen as startups due to their lack of ability to scale fast.)

The initial data also shows that less than .1 percent of all venture funding in the past five years has gone to a Black woman. More so, only one Black woman, Pathbrite founder and CEO Heather Hiles, has raised over $10 million.

“That’s problematic for us because we need that revenue to go to the next level,” said Finney.

In order to “limit bias in our data collection and to find founders who may be ‘hidden,’ we needed to look at the gender and racial makeup of startups in popular databases like CrunchBase and AngelList,” wrote Finney in an email. “Once we started to do this, we realized that no one had ever looked at the race and gender makeup of the startup community. We were creating the primary database. So what started as a simple solution to a discrete problem became a big solution to a very big problem.”

Project Diane is raising $50,000 to complete primary research on the gender and racial makeup of the 60,000 strong startup ecosystem and will use that data to create a comprehensive gender and racial mapping of the global startup community.

For more information on the Kickstarter campaign, click here.

Update By Lauren R.D. Fox- 6/12/2015:
Project Diane’s #ReWriteTheCode Kickstarter campaign hit its goal of $25,000 without any media promotion in less than two days. “People do care. People do want to hear our story. It’s given people something to believe, particularly women of color, who were starting to feel almost abused by the tech world. They were really feeling like there was no hope, and nothing we could do,” creator Kathryn Finney told The Huffington Post

Project Diane has a financial goal of $50,000. Currently its #ReWriteTheCode campaign has raised $41,012. Click here to donate.

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