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Small Biz Insider: DivInc Houston Leader on Making Startup Community More Diverse and Equitable

Published Feb 24, 2021 by Maggie Martin

Ashley DeWalt

Ashley DeWalt, managing director for DivInc Houston

DivInc is an accelerator focused on making the startup ecosystem more diverse, equitable and inclusive of people of color, women, and all underrepresented entrepreneurs.

The Austin-based program is expanding to Houston with plans to set up its headquarters at The Ion.

On this episode of the Small Biz Insider podcast, host Maggie Martin talks with Ashley DeWalt, managing director of DivInc Houston. Here are the highlights.

On the biggest challenges for the founders DivInc supports

DeWalt said one of the greatest challenges for these founders is lack of funding.

"Less than 3% of VC funding goes to women-led tech startups and less than 1% goes to African American and Latinx-led startups," said DeWalt. 

On removing barriers within Houston's startup community

“DivInc is a huge opportunity in Houston to really fill that void with working with underrepresented founders and being able to – really, at the end of the day – being able to remove barriers for these underrepresented founders, whether it’s lack of education, lack of education and know-how, whether it’s lack of access to resources, networks and opportunities. Or whether it’s lack of access to funding," said DeWalt.

On leveraging his own experience as an entrepreneur to support others

DeWalt started his entrepreneurial career as a sports management consultant while he was still attending classes as an undergraduate at the University of Houston.

“I bootstrapped my consultancy for many years, and so I get it," said DeWalt. "I understand it’s tough. I’m looking forward to having those one-on-one conversations to be able to say ‘hey, you might have been knocked down but dust yourself up and get back up. I’ve been there. And you can do it. And you can do it at a high level.’”

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Ashley DeWalt was a featured speaker as part of the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston House at 2021 SXSW Online Conference March 16-19. Watch the conversation about the power of diversity in innovation here.

The Small Biz Insider podcast is part of our digital series highlighting entrepreneurs in the greater Houston region who are making a big impact in the small business community. 

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