The Institute's inclusive innovation program, BEACON: The DC Women Founders' Initiative was featured at SXSW this year as part of the We:DC House managed by the D.C. Mayor's Office and the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership.
BEACON co-hosted "Pop Up and Pitch", a pitch competition for entrepreneurs that remixed the traditional pitch model by allowing the audience to ask questions and contribute 50% of the vote. The competition, launched in partnership with Black Girl Ventures and Cee Smith Media, was specifically focused on minority women entrepreneurs. The event attracted a great crowd and was a core part of D.C.'s inclusive innovation programming at SXSW.
BEACON also participated at a tech and innovation roundtable hosted by D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner.
BEACON: The DC Women Founders’ Initiative is a community-led campaign incubated at the Tech Institute that focuses on making Washington, D.C. the most influential and supportive city for women entrepreneurs in the United States. As a collaborative effort led by local entrepreneurs, service providers, policy experts and community leaders, BEACON aims to recognize and address gaps in services to better support women entrepreneurs.
BEACON is led by a Board of 12 volunteer leaders from D.C.’s entrepreneurship and policy ecosystem and receives strategic and operational support from the Institute. The Institute and our full-time fellow, Deloris Wilson, provide ongoing support and conduct research to drive BEACON's policy work.
Among other projects, BEACON runs an annual grant program that funds innovative projects to support D.C.’s women entrepreneurs. It operates the District’s largest directory of women-owned businesses and resources for women founders. BEACON hosts or co-hosts regular programming, leads campaigns to address issues affecting women entrepreneurs, identifies speaking and vending opportunities for women business owners, and produces a biweekly newsletter showcasing resources and opportunities that reaches over 2000 subscribers.
We have presented research findings to organizations such as the National Women’s Business Council and the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. BEACON's first major report is scheduled for release in April 2018.
You can read more about BEACON's work in our 2017 Highlights Report, available here.