Eduardo Sanchez-Iriarte: Advocating for LGBTQ+ founders and entrepreneurs

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of various picture books and online curriculum with a mission to empower over a million children to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship ecosystem builders, advancing the UN SDGs.

Hello! It’s me, Spiffy, an interplanetary journalist reporting from planet Earth with the latest on entrepreneurs making a difference for all of us around the world! Today’s rock star joins us from Brooklyn—Eduardo Sanchez-Iriarte. Eduardo is a member of the Program Board at StartOut and is here to talk to us about the work he is passionate about.

Spiffy: Welcome, Eduardo! I’m so excited to talk to you today. What challenge does StartOut solve?

Eduardo: It’s a pleasure to be here, Spiffy! As reported by Reuters in 2020, “More than $1.5 trillion was invested in global VC deals from 2010 to 2019. [but] less than 1% of US deals go to LGBT+ founders, and 37% of LGBT+ entrepreneurs choose not to ‘bring themselves’ to investors.” Those of us lucky enough to have access to resources—whether financial, geographic, professional, or social —we can do our part to tip the balance in favor of our community. That’s why I joined StartOut. That’s what I (we) want to achieve.

Spiffy: Can you elaborate on your motivation for this goal?

Eduardo: There are many ways to stand up for the LGBTQ+ community and tackle the daily challenges to uphold our rights and freedoms. We don’t just want to have a firm hand in proposing changes to the people at the big table (as I call it) who make the key decisions. We want to sit at that table and be part of the conversation! Having people who identify as LGBTQ+ in leadership positions is increasingly influential in bringing about 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 just world?

Eduardo: Well, Spiffy, StartOut provides an online and in-person means to bring our community together and leverage opportunities for entrepreneurs and founders who want to learn and connect with investors, mentors and each other. We also have a footprint in multiple cities across the US. Thanks to these chapters and the Program Committee members who lead them, LGBTQ+ people and allies have access to events and resources tailored to the local ecosystem. That’s how I became a member.

Spiffy: Is there a recent organizational milestone or initiative you’d like to share, along with its impact on your community?

Eduardo: Undoubtedly, the StartOut Pride Economic Impact Index (SPEII). SPEII is an online adaptive dashboard that measures LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs’ contributions to the broader economy (jobs created, funds raised, intellectual property produced) while assessing what those contributions could be in a state of equal access. In addition, we use our model to assess 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 trying to make.

Eduardo: As a member of the Program Board in New York, I have had the opportunity to be on panels with leaders from various industries where I can verbalize my vision. Two of the ones I enjoyed the most were the panels I moderated: “Raising Capital During and After Covid-19” and one that addressed the critical importance of “Mental Health and Professional Development”. Both happened at the height of the 2020 pandemic, when I thought we all needed guidance and comfort more than ever. (I know I am.)

Spiffy: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our audience today?

Eduardo: My biggest passion is mental health. Specifically, understanding how I can help children and younger audiences attend to this vital aspect of our humanity (often overlooked or undervalued). Children are the past, present and future of everything we could be, are and will be. By nurturing their mental health, we help ourselves as adults. Everything I do is with the intention of eventually focusing my time on this effort. Hence my interest in conversations that advance this topic.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Eduardo—it was an honor!

A New Yorker at heart, born and raised in Mexico City, Eduardo Sanchez-Iriarte is passionate about technology, mental health, and where the two intersect. When not exploring these interests, he plays the violin and attends New York Philharmonic concerts as an avid classical music devotee.(First published on the Ladderworks website on July 8, 2022)

© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration Shreyas Navara. For Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy’s Corner here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nasdaq, Inc.

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