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7 LGBTQ+ Startups You Should Know

Queer founders and diversity-focused venture capital funds are making significant strides for the benefit of the LGBTQ+ community. Meet seven startups uplifting the LGBTQ+ community.

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7 minute read

In recent years, tech startups have begun to realize the importance of prioritizing the importance of diversity and inclusion in both individual hiring efforts and industry-wide representation. While some progress has been made, much of the conversation is still rooted in catering to optics as opposed to learning and evolving based on hard data.

Less than 10% of all venture capital deals go to women, people of color and LGBTQ+ founders. That number comes from Backstage Capital, a fund that invests in U.S. startups led by underrepresented founders. StartOut, a nonprofit established for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, reports that 37% of queer founders chose to remained closeted, 12% of whom say their decision was dictated by their concerns over hurting their startups’ fundraising chances.

The message is clear: Being openly queer in the startup space still presents difficulties, despite an apparent increase in diversity and inclusion efforts. Even so, queer founders and diversity-focused venture capital funds are making significant strides for the benefit of the LGBTQ+ community. Here are seven startups uplifting the LGBTQ+ community.

FOLX Health

FOLX Health is a Series A healthcare startup focused on providing quality care to the LGBTQ+ community. As stated on its website, 25% of queer people report having to educate their clinicians on queer health issues and more than 50% report some form of healthcare discrimination.

A.G. Breitenstein, founder and executive chair of Folx Health, explained that the current diagnostic model for treating healthcare concerns “gives medicine the power to name what is ‘normal’...for the queer community, the notion of normal has always been used against us.” FOLX was established to counter this damaging pattern in healthcare.

With a team of clinicians who specialize in LGBTQ+ health, a variety of services such as virtual primary care, estrogen and testosterone memberships, as well as resources and support groups, FOLX aims to both provide and educate with their services.

Lex

Lex is a social networking platform where queer people can meet friends or build relationships, with a unique twist: Users posts are primarily text-based. The company’s name stems from the word “lexicon,” which represents the vocabulary of a language.

Kell Rakowski, the founder of Lex, explains that it’s important to build a relationship off of more than just a photo. In conversation with Apple, she elaborated on this point: “Language is so important to the LGBTQ+ experience—words are almost a subculture within themselves.” In a space that is affirming for queer, trans, gender non-conforming, two-spirit and nobinary people, Kell’s hope for her text-based app is to create a stronger depth of connection between users.

We Are Fluide

We Are Fluide is a beauty brand creating vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free cosmetics for all skin shades and gender expressions. By providing a platform to amplify the voices of queer folks and showcasing queer beauty, the company hopes to inspire people to redefine their identities on their own terms and open up avenues for self-expression.

Co-founded by Laura Kramer and Isabella Giancarlo, the brand aims to deconstruct the white, straight, cisgender standard of beauty that has been perpetuated for years. As a mother, Kramer was inspired to create a company that all young people can see themselves in. Giancarlo rarely saw representation for herself as a queer person and creative, finding makeup standards constricting and uninteristing. Their shared visions came together to create a brand that is bold and uncompromising.

Misterb&b

Misterb&b, which immediately bears resemblance to the company name Airbnb, is a startup aimed at helping LGBTQ+ people experience a more welcoming world while traveling. Housing options on the platform include private rooms and apartments, as well as the ability to stay in queer-friendly neighborhoods anywhere its users travel to.

The company’s story began in 2014, when co-founder and CEO Matthieu Jost rented an apartment in Barcelona with his partner and upon arrival, was faced with the host’s discomfort and questions such as, “Are you going to sleep in the same bed?”

Following this experience, Jost recognized the need for a short-term rental service created by and for gay travelers to foster a more safe and comfortable environment while traveling, as well as a way for LGBTQ+ travelers to connect with others across the globe.

Revry, Inc

Revry is an LGBTQ+-first streaming media network with live TV, movies, series, news and original content available globally, through both free and paid models. Founded by a diverse group of people with experience in technology, digital media and LGBTQ+ advocacy, Revry’s mission is to inspire queer folks and allies to explore queer content by providing a designated space to do so.

The idea came about when co-founder and CEO Damian Pelliccione noticed that the new Apple TV in 2016 did not have any LGBTQ+ apps. This became a “lightbulb” moment for Pelliccione and he set to work building an application and team; three years later, the company had a reach of more than 10 million users in 100 countries, with almost half of the traffic coming from international users.

Daylight

Daylight is a U.S. banking platform specifically catered to and created by the LGBTQ+ community. Daylight is designed to reward queer folks for spending in line with their values, whether that’s through providing financial education or helping the queer community while using your card. One way the platform does so is by showing the user live analytics of some of the largest companies, as well as how supportive they are of the values the user is aligned with.

According to a self-published article that details the necessity of queer banking, switching on charity round-ups and using your Daylight card 20 times a month ensures that a low-income trans person can get a week of hormones or a homeless young person can get a bed for the night. In 2021, Daylight contributed $18,917 to the queer community, between trans mutual aid funds, LGBTQ+ centers and cultural performances; organizations that were directly supported include For the Gworls, The Next Generation Project, Ali Forney Centre, HRT Access Fund at Point of Pride and The Transgender District (Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program). The founders at Daylight also have plans to create an LGBTQ+ business marketplace, as well as a rewards system for those who spend money at businesses that support the community.

Blendoor

Blendoor is a diversity analytics and hiring software company that provides a rating to evaluate corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) strategy and efforts. By analyzing environmental, social and governance (ESG) data sets, the startup provides solutions for investors, executives and leadership at companies in which DE&I is top of mind.

The need for more intentional efforts by companies is also reflected in statistics centered around employees — according to Glassdoor, 76% of job seekers report that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and offers.

Stephanie Lampkin, CEO of Blendoor, has spent 18 years in the tech space working for companies such as Microsoft, TripAdvisor, Deloitte and holds degrees from both Stanford and MIT. Despite her experience, she has faced significant bias when applying for entry-level positions in VC firms. To alleviate the bias she and many others have faced, Stephanie committed her life to eliminating market inefficiencies that limit opportunities for candidates from underrepresented backgrounds.

Along with the important work being done by these startups, both for the LGBTQ+ community and for diversity as a whole, several venture capital firms have devoted themselves to investing in minority founders, including Backstage Capital, Unconventional Ventures, Gaingels and Pride Fund - Loud Capital. Whether through founding a startup or deploying capital at a VC firm, queer founders are paving the way for a more inclusive tech space, starting from within.

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