With its bustling startup culture, Tech has many opportunities for students to create and build companies. Over the past decades, Tech has made efforts towards the diversification of campus across gender and racial lines.
Despite having such a diverse student body, startups are still working to reflect this diversity. Though opportunities may be available, students seem reluctant to take them or are unsure how to access them.
This is an issue the VentureLab and CREATE-X — two startup resources on campus — are aware of and actively addressing. Last Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, CREATE-X presented “Female Founders How She Built It” with guest speaker Bryanna Marshall.
Bryanna Marshall is the founder of Thanks Rose, a company focused on, according to their website, “creating preventable maternal outcomes, providing credible resources to families, and ensuring proactive care is the standard.” Marshall was able to tell her story of going from an idea to a company, showing the work and effort she put into creating a successful startup.
The “Female Founders How She Built It” events are just one part of VentureLab and CREATE-X’s initiative to diversify the startups founded at Tech.
According to their website, the Female Founders Initiative is a program created to respond “to the gap, and the need — both on campus and nationwide — for more equitable opportunities for women entrepreneurs.”
The five-week virtual program supplies participants with “invaluable approaches, resources, and advice” as well as “the opportunity to grow their network.”
Marshall is an alumna of the Female Founder Initiative herself, which is part of the reason she spoke in the series.
“She exemplifies the goals of the Female Founders Initiative,” said Sara Martin, Program Director for VentureLab. Marshall has been able “to continue to move her startup forward” as well as “use the community of strong women and use the landscape to give back to other female founders.”
CREATE-X and VentureLab strive to support more startups like Marshall’s through the program with the main tenet of supplying confidence, specifically creative confidence.
“There is a myth around the word creativity, that it is reserved for the humanities or that it is a dirty word. There is locked and unlocked creative potential and we want to foster that, bring that out and give people the individual confidence to know that they can impact the world,” Martin said.
Many students may find the idea of creating a startup at the Institute intimidating due to its prestige. However, Martin said that, through the Female Founders Initiative, she “want[s] to give the women on campus that have brilliant ideas a space to feel comfortable to dip their toe in without being judged.”
“Success in entrepreneurship relies on [a] network and that can be hard with the less diverse network,” Martin said. The ultimate goal of the Female Founders Initiative is to build that network for women. With a network built, it makes it easier for women all across campus to find a way to the startup space as either a founder or a participant.
CREATE-X and the VentureLab plan to expand diversification programs for startups.
Martin hopes to create a similar program for first-generation college students in the future.
As the diversity of campus increases year by year, programs such as the Female Founders Initiative will only become more popular and effective as a way for students to build a future for themselves. Hopefully, as time goes on, a network of startups from people of all backgrounds will grow on campus providing support for newcomers.
For those interested in learning more about the Female Founder Initiative or applying for their assistance, applications are currently open for their fall cohort and can be found at create-x.gatech.edu/female-founders.