Monday, August 26

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

UW Memorial Union
800 Langdon St
Madison, WI 53706

Mary Ann Azevedo, in a recent Crunchbase article, says it well, “Maybe the VC community is tired of hearing about it; certainly, there are plenty of people who are tired of dealing with it. And yet, the funding landscape for minority and women-owned startups continues to underwhelm.” Our outstanding panel of voices on the national stage will discuss the continuing challenges faced by entrepreneurs and some of the inspiring victories and strategies that are changing the landscape.

*This event is included with your Forward Technology Conference or Data for Impact Conference ticket purchase, no need to buy a separate ticket for this event. If you are only attending this event and have a Forward Pass, please use the promo code provided to you to register for this event at no cost.


Lisa Calhoun: Valor Ventures and Startup Runway:

Headquartered in Atlanta, Valor Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm. Founding general partner Lisa Calhoun has a strong background in technology, and her experience and entrepreneurship have contributed to over a billion dollars and counting in exit value from emerging technologies. She is a Kauffman Fellow, president of Kauffman Class 23, and an active leader in the VC community. Before founding ValorVC, Lisa built a digital marketing agency recognized by Hubspot as one of the “Top 10 Agencies for Tech Startups.” There she supported hundreds of high growth tech startups in early scale, through their exits to acquisitions, earning in practice what was to become Valor's hypergrowth thesis. Prior, Lisa worked in IT consulting, where she was known for pioneering platforms to support software founders at first financing. She created the Valor Innovation Advisor Council that connects emerging startups to potential enterprise customers, and founded the Startup Runway Foundation, the largest pitch event for minority and women founders seeking seed capital in the United States.

Donnel Baird, Founder and CEO, BlocPower:

Donnel Baird is the founder and CEO of BlocPower, an early stage startup that markets, finances, and installs solar and energy efficiency retrofits in churches, synagogues, non-profits,

and small businesses in financially underserved neighborhoods. BlocPower connects portfolios of these clean tech installation opportunities to impact investors via an online marketplace. Donnel is an Echoing Green/Open Society Foundation BMA Fellow and the first Entrepreneur in Residence at Jalia Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in for-profits with a social and environmental mission. Donnel spent 7 years as a community and political organizer. He is a recent graduate of Columbia Business School, where he was a Board of Overseers Fellow and a recipient of investment from the Lang Fund for Entrepreneurial Initiative.

Archna Sahay, President Sahay Consulting

Sahay is a Strategic Advisor with primary areas of focus including urban innovation and ecosystem development. Previously served as director of entrepreneurial investment for the City of Philadelphia. As Director, was responsible for the economic and business development of the tech sector for the City, launching various programs such as Post a Pilot and Entrepreneurs Office Hours to help connect entrepreneurs to resources needed as they built their businesses in Philadelphia. Also managed StartupPHL, the City's platform for supporting entrepreneurship and startup activity in Philadelphia which included management of an early stage venture fund and a grant program supporting initiatives to develop the tech ecosystem around the city. Helped guide the growth of the platform by providing sources of funding to startups, developing thought leadership via weekly newsletters, promoting open innovation concepts and prioritizing equitable and inclusive ecosystem development. Prior to joining the public sector, she spent over 10 years at leading investment management firms working closely with high net worth clients. Sahay served as an Advisor for the 2018 SXSW Cities Summit and is currently on the boards of Women Led Cities, a platform to support women around the world leading initiatives to improve cities, as well as Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, a non-profit whose mission is to provide a soft landing for new immigrants through education, employment and entrepreneurship.

American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact
Sponsored by: American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact

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Forward Pass Access to this event is included with the Forward Pass.