Hi! It’s me, Spiffy, the interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with the latest scoop on entrepreneurs making a difference for all of us around the world! Today’s rockstar joins us from Brooklyn—Eduardo Sanchez-Iriarte. Eduardo is a Programming Board Member with StartOut, and is here to talk to us about the work he is passionate about.
Spiffy: Welcome, Eduardo! I’m so excited to speak with you today. What challenge is StartOut addressing?
Eduardo: It’s a pleasure to be here, Spiffy! As published by Reuters in 2020, "More than $1.5 trillion was invested in global VC deals from 2010 to 2019 [but] less than 1% of U.S. deals go in favor of LGBT+ founders, and 37% of LGBT+ entrepreneurs choose not to 'out' themselves to investors." Those of us lucky enough to have access to resources—be it financial, geographical, occupational, or social—can do our part to tilt the balance in favor of our community. That's why I joined StartOut. It's what I (we) aim to achieve.
Spiffy: Can you elaborate further on your motivation for this cause?
Eduardo: There are many ways to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and tackle the daily challenges to keep our rights and freedom in place. We don’t only want to have a solid hand in suggesting changes to the people at the big table (as I call it) who make the pivotal decisions. We want to take a seat at that table and be a part of the conversation! Having people who identify as LGBTQ+ in leadership positions is gaining influence to bring change, which is why I believe in StartOut's mission as my own.
Spiffy: What are some of the tangible steps taken to ensure that the organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Eduardo: Well, Spiffy, StartOut provides online and in-person means to bring our community closer and to potentialize opportunities for entrepreneurs and aspiring founders to learn and connect with investors, mentors, and one another. Also, we have a footprint in multiple cities across the US. Thanks to these Chapters and the Programming Board members leading them, LGBTQ+ folks and allies have access to events and resources tailored to the local ecosystem. That's how I became a member in the first place.
Spiffy: Is there a recent organization milestone or initiative you’d like to share, along with its impact on your community?
Eduardo: Undoubtedly, the StartOut Pride Economic Impact Index (SPEII). The SPEII is an online adaptive dashboard that measures the contributions LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs make to the larger economy (jobs created, funding raised, IP produced) while estimating what these contributions could be in a state of equal access. In addition, we leverage our model to evaluate various policies, programs, and services for their impact on LGBTQ+ entrepreneurial engagement.
Spiffy: Tell me about a startup or project you’ve worked with that exemplifies the impact you’re striving to make.
Eduardo: As a member of the Programming Board in NYC, I've had opportunities to be on panels with leaders from different industries where I can verbalize my vision. Two of the ones I enjoyed the most were panels where I was the moderator: "Raising Capital During and Post-Covid-19" and one addressing the critical importance of "Mental Health and Professional Development." Both happened during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, when I thought we all needed guidance and solace more than ever. (I know I did.)
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience today?
Eduardo: My greatest passion is mental health. Specifically, understanding how I can help children and younger audiences take care of this vital aspect of our humanity (often overlooked or underestimated). Children are the past, present, and future of everything we could have been, are, and will be. In nurturing their mental health, we help ourselves as adults. Everything I do is with the intention of, eventually, focusing my time on this effort. Thus, my interest in conversations advancing this topic.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Eduardo—it’s been an honor!
New Yorker by heart, born and raised in Mexico City, Eduardo Sanchez-Iriarte is passionate about tech, mental health, and the place where both converge. When he's not exploring these interests, he plays violin and attends New York Philharmonic concerts as an avid full-time classical music devotee. (First published on the Ladderworks website on July 8, 2022.)© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.