The US’s only hackathon for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs is the latest to replace its in-person live events with a fully virtual lineup for its upcoming 2020 hackathon.

HackOut is a four-day event – usually hosted in Austin, Texas, that brings together would-be entrepreneurs to generate ideas and learn important skills needed to set up a startup. 

Participants go through a series of workshops over the weekend to help develop an idea into a fully-fledged vision for a business, with $5,000 on offer to help the winning teams get their idea formally set up as LGBTQ+ led companies. 

Lead organizer, Desmond Thomas, says that “the hardest part of starting up is starting out and our mission is to inspire entrepreneurs in the LGBTQIA community to learn the ropes of validating an idea for a startup and turn that idea into a full-blown business venture.”

The free annual event was originally set up in 2009 by national nonprofit StartOut, which supports LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs worldwide. 

Last year’s event was won by the team behind Solace, an app to help transgender and non-binary people plan their transition.

Around 120 people took part in the 2019 event, with 26 participants offered travel scholarships to attend the event in Texas from as far as Australia, China and Malaysia, among others. 

This year, as the event – like most others – is going virtual, it’s also going global for the first time, further widening the scope for inclusion. 

Improving diversity

In a statement seen by SEXTECHGUIDE, the event organisers say they are “committed to diversity” and aim to “increase our reach across race, gender and identity spectrums” for the 2020 online event. 

The team hopes to increase the amount of womxn at the event by 10 percent (just 30 percent of attendees last year were female-identifying). 

It also hopes to increase the number of Black and non-binary people attending by 11 percent in each demographic, from 9 percent to 20 percent. 

Why LGBTQ+ focused business events are important

Diversity may seem like a bit of a buzzword these days, but inclusive tech events for the LGBTQIA+ community are essential to diversify the industry and create tech for a wider demographic.

Event backer StartOut is a US-based organisation with more than 17,000 members worldwide in over 50 countries. It helps LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs start new companies and expand their networks, through mentorship schemes and targeted events nationwide and online. 

A 2016 report published by the nonprofit found that 37 percent of LGBTQIA+ founders chose not to self-identify as members of the LGBT community, with 12 percent citing concerns that it might hurt their chances to get capital and  47 percent said that “being out” wasn’t relevant.

HackOut 2020 itinerary 

Interested in getting involved? Teams are invited to submit their pitch online from 12PM CST on Wednesday September 9 until the deadline at 6PM CST the following day (September 10). Participants then vote for their three favourite pitch ideas and teams are organized from the winning ideas. 

The weekend also includes CV consultancy and job search tips, as well as evening entertainment from LGBTQIA+ performers including Mustache Envy Dallas and Divinity Roxx

If you want to apply, you can sign up for the free event here.

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