SUP-X Addresses Diversity Issues in Venture Capital and Startup Communities; Announces Diversity Forum Lineup

An international startup conference in Fort Lauderdale in March will examine the lack of diversity in the venture capital and startup communities.  SUP-X®: The StartUp Expo, the largest startup conference in the state of Florida and one of the largest in the country, will begin with a special half-day “Diversity in Entrepreneurship Forum” that seeks to address communities that are historically under-represented and under-served in the venture capital/startup ecosystem.  

“In some ways it’s the most important topic that we’ll address,” said Bob Fitts, Founder and Producer of the event.  “The issues here are complex and deserve thoughtful discussion.  Last year this forum was a woman’s forum.  The feedback we got was tremendous, but we had some other communities ask us to address their needs as well, so we’ve broadened the forum’s focus this year in response to those requests,” Fitts continued.  

SUP-X will be held on March 6th and 7th at the Broward Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale. The Diversity Forum begins with a keynote speech by fempreneur Rachel Braun Scherl, a successful entrepreneur in female healthcare who blogs for the Huffington Post on leadership and breaking barriers in venture capital and entrepreneurship.  Scherl will be followed by a panel that will examine the challenges of being an entrepreneur from a diverse background. Panelists includes Felecia Hatcher, co-founder of Code Fever and Black Tech Week, and John Fails, Executive Director of Bunker Labs Jacksonville, a national non-profit built by military veteran entrepreneurs to empower other military veterans as leaders in innovation.  The organization has chapters in 14 US cities.  

The forum will also examine issues of minority access to capital with a panel moderated by Tampa based serial entrepreneur and investor Joy Randels.  Among other panelists, Randels will be joined by Rob Delman, head of deal flow for Golden Seeds, one of the nation’s most prominent angel groups that invests only in women led businesses. 

The SUP-X Diversity in Entrepreneurship Forum concludes with a fireside chat with Carmen Castillo, founder and CEO of SDI International, the largest Latina-owned business in the United States and one of the largest woman-owned businesses in the world.  Castillo founded SDI in her apartment in Fort Lauderdale in 1992.  It is today a global leader in procurement and sourcing solutions for the tail end of the supply chain.  Ms. Castillo also serves as a Board Member of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and as Vice Chair of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC).  Ms. Castillo will be interviewed by Chike Ukaegbu, founder of Startup52, New York’s first diversity focused tech accelerator. 

“The SUP-X Diversity in Entrepreneurship Forum addresses vital topics related to our mission, so we’re very aligned and proud to be a partner of the conference this year, ” said Bryan Cunningham, of the Urban League of Broward County, a community based organization dedicated to empowering communities and changing lives to secure economic self-reliance and parity.

SUP-X is expected to attract approximately 1500 attendees from over 35 states and a dozen countries this year.  The purpose of the conference is to better connect and educate investors, entrepreneurs and service providers from throughout North America while further growing and enriching the Florida entrepreneurial ecosystem, explained Fitts.  In addition to the Diversity Forum, SUP-X has some 18 panels in all, including speeches and keynote addresses on topics such as the importance of good design, FinTech and blockchain, raising capital and becoming a better angel investor.  Other speakers include Scott Decker, CEO of MDLive; Albert Santalo, founder of CareCloud; and Shelby Gogulski and Rachel Zietz, two Florida teen entrepreneurs who both recently appeared on Shark Tank.  Nearly 100 non-profits devoted to entrepreneurship, accelerators and angel groups from around the country have partnered with SUP-X and approximately 100 startups and corporate sponsors will exhibit at SUP-X as well.  

Tickets to SUP-X range from $59-$399.  More information about SUP-X may be found at http://www.sup-x.org/ or by contacting info@sup-x.org.  

About SUP-X: The StartUp Expo
SUP-X®: The StartUp Expo is a two-day, international startup and early-stage conference at the Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward Convention Center, March 6-7, 2017.  SUP-X is expected to attract 1250-1500 startup and early-stage entrepreneurs, angel and venture capital investors, service providers and others from 35+ states and 12-15 countries.  The event features a special “Diversity in Entrepreneurship Forum” to address the needs of those typically under-addressed in the startup and venture capital communities.  SUP-X also will have some 18 speeches and panels comprised of 50+ successful entrepreneurs and investors speaking on topics of interest to investors and entrepreneurs alike.  SUP-X also features its own startup competition with $50,000 in cash divided among three winners.  Tickets to SUP-X range from $59-$399.  More information about SUP-X may be found at http://www.sup-x.org/.  

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