American Underground

How a start-up hub made good on diversity goals

How a start-up hub made good on diversity goals

As seen in USA Today on Dec. 17, 2015

DURHAM, N.C. — The American Underground, a campus for entrepreneurs here, established a bold goal at the start of 2015: To build the most diverse start-up hub in the country inside of two years.

This statement raised some eyebrows but, after nearly a year of experimentation and hard work, Durham is building not only a thriving start-up scene but a richly diverse one.

Nationally, only about 1% of start-up founders are black and 8% are female, according to CB Insights. But as a result of carefully considered decisions made at the American Underground, 15% of companies here are led by African Americans and 29% by women. These figures are up from the beginning of 2014 when we reported 5% of American Underground companies were led by African-Americans and 7% by women.

While we’re still in our early stages, the issue is of national importance because research increasingly shows that diverse work forces, brainstorming teams and leadership systems help to generate higher revenue and rates of return for companies compared to their homogeneous counterparts. Developing more diverse entrepreneurial ecosystems also creates more opportunity for people of different backgrounds to succeed.


Read the full article here.


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