Earlier this year, Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web (FFDW) announced its support for DivInc, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on championing young companies founded by underrepresented founders, ahead of the launch of its Fall 2023 DWeb for Social Impact Accelerator.
This accelerator is the first of DivInc’s programs focused on supporting social enterprise startups led by women and people of color who are developing solutions that leverage the decentralized web and other Web3-based technologies.
To learn more about what led to the partnership between DivInc and FFDW and how both teams are working together to bring more diverse voices to the Web3 ecosystem, we spoke with Preston James, co-founder and CEO of DivInc.
Can you share a little bit more about the initial start of DivInc?
Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to be a startup mentor with Austin, TX’s Capital Factory, be an angel investor involved with the E3 Angel Network in Austin, and also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Texas at Austin through the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship. These three positions put me at the heart of the startup ecosystem at a collegiate level and at a local-Austin level, giving me the opportunity to sit in on countless pitches from a variety of different tech startups. I began to notice a gap between the quality of sophistication in the pitches from white men versus women and people of color. This was disturbing to me and I wanted to understand why this gap existed.
I spoke with startup founders and leaders within the ecosystem in Austin and across the United States and the gap could be explained with one word: access. There were three major areas where people of color and women were not getting access: education, human and social capital, and financial capital.
Understanding these barriers to access led to the start of DivInc in 2016, born to remove these barriers and provide access to essential resources and opportunities. The goal at that time was to get more people of color and women to participate in the startup ecosystem. We have hosted about two accelerators per year for a total of 12 since our start.
What do you see as the largest impact of inclusivity within entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is the core of a strong economy and is a key component of wealth building. For our ecosystem to inherently exclude a large demographic within our population, we are shortchanging and stretching ourselves in terms of economic development, growth, and wealth building.
The racial wealth gap has grown dramatically over the last several decades. The wealth gap between white families and black families according to Rand, is somewhere between eight and nine times. Similarly, the racial wealth gap between Hispanics, Latinos, and white families is equally extreme. Entrepreneurship is a key component of wealth building but it is also a key component of income generation.
Why did DivInc add the DWeb as another layer on top of the successful accelerators that DivInc has already hosted?
When you look at Web3, it carries the potential to create opportunities for pretty much everyone and distribute control more evenly. That is the intention and the vision for it. For DivInc, we don’t want women and people of color who are already behind in terms of their participation in the startup innovation ecosystem to not have the opportunity to get a jump start on their involvement within this new wave of technology.
There’s already bias against people of color and women in terms of getting access to resources, in particular financial capital and venture capital. With these biases taking place in our world today, DivInc wants to be able to give these individuals a willing position where they can overcome that by leveraging the DWeb and the technologies associated with it to create more equitable opportunities for them. We have an opportunity to help people of color and women be on the front edge of this next generation of the web, and we are doing so through this upcoming accelerator and partnership.
At FFDW, our mission is to help educate society about the decentralized web and how its solutions can aid in preserving humanity’s most important information. We look forward to continuing to support DivInc as it helps bring diverse perspectives to the Web3 ecosystem.
To learn more about the Fall 2023 DWeb for Social Impact Accelerator supported by FFDW, visit www.divinc.org/apply.