Today, I am excited to attend the first-ever White House Demo Day hosted by President Obama. The unique event will bring together 35 diverse start-ups from across the country to demonstrate their success stories for companies and venture firms.
At Comcast NBCUniversal, we recognize that great ideas come from great people and we’re proud to be a leader in diversity and inclusion. We recruit, retain and promote diverse talent at every level of the company. Today, nearly 60 percent of our workforce is diverse and nearly 70 percent of our new hires last year were diverse, a point of pride when other industries often fail to reflect our society.
We collaborate with entrepreneurs in many ways to help them achieve success. We partner with start-ups to find new customers and create great marketing exposure. We’re always looking for new product innovations and, if there's a good fit, will partner with start-ups to pilot new features to our audiences. In addition, we continue to work with entrepreneurs, incubators and hackathons to support the start-up ecosystem through mentoring, advising and providing access to key decision makers in our company. If you have a product innovation or business partnership in mind, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through Comcast Ventures, our venture capital arm, we invest in innovative businesses that represent the next generation of entertainment, communications and digital technology. And in a world where men have historically dominated the world of venture-backed start-ups and where only 6 percent of partners at venture capital firms are women, we are proud to lead the way in changing that trend. As Managing Director and Head of Funds for Comcast Ventures, Amy Banse leads strategy for how best to invest fund capital and support our portfolio companies.
Many funds are chasing the hot deals and in doing so overlook minority and female-led opportunities. That’s where we look more closely. Less than 1 percent of venture capital goes to underrepresented minority-founded start-ups each year. We created the innovative Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, run by William Crowder and Lo Toney, to seek out minority entrepreneurs with big ideas that have the potential to disrupt categories or create new ones. The $20 million Catalyst Fund makes seed stage investments in minority technology start-ups and has made direct and follow-on investments in nine tech startups with diverse founding teams. In partnership with DreamIt Ventures, a global start-up accelerator, the Catalyst Fund has successfully sponsored 38 minority-led start-ups since 2011. Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund investments include Maker’s Row, a startup focused on connecting entrepreneurs with American manufactures, Partnered, a digital network that pairs emerging startups with big brands and PartPic, a company focusing on visual search for replacement parts, and is in attendance at today’s White House Demo Day.
Yesterday, we participated in a SwitchPitch event at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s first-ever Open for Innovation Day, where we challenged a diverse group of start-ups to come up with an app to help our customers and technicians optimize the placement of their in-home Wi-Fi router to guarantee the best Internet performance possible. We were impressed with the results and hope to build on the ideas we discussed – and maybe even develop a new partnership.
We are also committed to bridging the digital divide through Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program, which we announced today has connected more than 2 million low-income Americans to the power of the Internet at home. The Internet enables access to information and opportunities, helping to create the next generation of American entrepreneurs.
As we look to fund and support the next generation of American entrepreneurs and their big ideas, we applaud the President for hosting this exciting event showcasing the incredible potential that comes from tapping diverse talent. I’m excited to meet the entrepreneurs who embody the American dream as they shape the future of our great country.