Advocates are joining forces to promote growth of LGBTQ entrepreneurs in Columbus with events, connections.
A Columbus-based venture fund to support LGBTQ entrepreneurs will roll out this year. Creating an LGBTQ fund long has been an aspiration of Pride Fund Managing Director Timothy Wolf Starr, CEO of Atlas Partners, a consulting group that travels the country evangelizing Columbus and seeking to connect ideas with resources that advance the community.
“I was raised by the LGBTQ community in Columbus—I grew up in the Short North before it was the Short North,” Starr says. “When I looked at how I could use this new set of resources in the venture space, LGBTQ was the first community where I knew I could make a real impact, giving members the opportunity to participate in venture in a safe and fun way.”Stay up to date with the region’s thriving business scene. Subscribe to Columbus CEO’s weekly newsletter.
Regulations prohibit the fund’s organizers from commenting on its potential size at this time.
The fund’s leadership team includes LGBTQ activists and allies Tom Grote, co-founder of the Grote Turner branding firm and adviser to his family’s Edge Innovation Hub; Michael Smithson, president of On Air Communications; Densil Porteous, a consultant, chair of the Create Columbus Commissions and Equitas Health board member; and June Gutterman, retired CEO of Jewish Family Services.
Another supporter is Columbus-based Loud Capital, co-founded by anesthesiologist Navin Goyal, who is Loud’s CEO. “We bring that same ethical intention to the company—to do no harm, treat people well,” he says. “So things like the Pride Fund make sense to us. There’s a lot of power with money, and how you treat that money and who you invest in, we take very seriously, investing in various groups and communities. Our intention is not only making a profit, but how we can impact people for good.”
The fund’s partners will attend Venture Out, which Starr organized last year for the first time as the intersection of the venture capital and LGBTQ spaces locally and nationally. The Pride weekend event was held at Drive Capital last year, but has outgrown that space, Starr says. Pride Weekend this year is June 19-21.
Legal support for the fund is being provided by attorney and VC expert Lindsay Karas Stencel.
Katy Smith is editor of Columbus CEO.