From every race, religion, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, one can find examples of the entrepreneurial spark that drives those gifted few to create new things, start new endeavors and push the envelope of the everyday. And for communities as diverse and proud as LGBT communities, it should come as no surprise that entrepreneurism is alive and well.
These groups know what it means to struggle, to fight oppression and to advocate for equality—all traits that serve aspiring entrepreneurs well. It’s not an easy task getting a startup company off the ground, especially considering the hurdles one must face when representing the LGBT community; even moreso for those fighting against patriarchy, sexism and racism. Becoming an entrepreneur that represents the resilience of the LGBT community speaks to the fortitude and acumen of the brilliant minds involved.
Here’s a glimpse at a few LGBT entrepreneurs and the startups they’ve worked so hard to build.
Started by activist, writer, scholar and filmmaker Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Trans*H4CK was launched in 2013 to support the growth of tech and visibility for those who identify as “trans, gender non-conforming, agender and non-binary.” Trans*H4CK recognized the many roadblocks facing trans and non-conforming members of the tech world: higher unemployment rates, lower wages, discrimination and homelessness.
Through open source technologies and collaboration, Trans*H4CK hopes to increase visibility—and subsequently, opportunities—for trans tech innovators and entrepreneurs. From hackathons to virtual classrooms, Trans*H4CK is the go-to source for trans issues in tech, with robust speaker series and invaluable online tools that support diversity and awareness. But it’s not just education that comes out of Trans*H4CK. The tech incubator is also home to several apps, including Yo Restrooms, an app that helps users find the nearest gender-safe bathroom.
Started in 2011, Hornet set out to give the gay community a better way to network and connect online. Marketed as the “premier gay social network,” Hornet is currently the number one gay app in markets like France, Taiwan, Turkey and Brazil. The United States also accounts for a large portion of its more than 20 million users, combining the functionality of a dating app with “original, thought-provoking content.”
Co-founders Christof Wittig and Sean Howell have been working together from the beginning. Now, as CEO and president, respectively, the duo continue their work bringing gay people together through “shared experience and common interests.” Both men live in San Francisco—Wittig with his husband of 20 years, and Howell with his boyfriend.
An LGBT-friendly version of Airbnb, this gay travel service is making headlines. Just this summer, Misterb&b announced they raised $8.5 million to continue expanding their platform. The concept was started by French entrepreneur Matthieu Jost after he and his partner had an unfriendly experience with a host from another travel-hosting service.
With Misterb&b, not only are you ensured an LGBT-friendly host, but you’ll also have an easier time finding lodging in the “gay-borhoods” of cities around the world. Travelers want to feel safe, and they also want to feel like they’re getting a taste of the local flair. Misterb&b helps on both these counts.
Already hosting 100,000 properties in 135 countries, this latest influx of investment money is sure to expand this handy LGBT travel tool even more.
If you’ve seen an interactive business presentation that obviously wasn’t PowerPoint, you’ve probably seen Prezi in action. Co-founder and current CEO Peter Arvai made headlines in 2015 when he announced to Forbes, “I am gay.” Known for his mastery of multiple languages (English, Swedish, Hungarian and Japanese) and his love of Bikram Yoga, the entrepreneur played a critical role in developing the revolutionary presentation platform
Prezi’s latest update, Prezi Next, offers users even more flexibility and customization, helping non-designers create and share compelling, trackable presentations that deliver on functionality and professionalism.
5. Hip Chick Farms
Started in 2013 by married couple Serafina Palandech and Jennifer Johnson, this California food startup creates “artisan, transparently sourced, chef-inspired frozen chicken and poultry products that are convenient for busy families.” And the concept has plenty of support.
Just last year, Hip Chick Farms netted half a million dollars from the West Texas Investors Club.
With the best and brightest minds in the LGBT community contributing to the thriving world of entrepreneurship, the future looks just as bright for a diverse community ready and eager to support startup companies founded by their peers and allies.