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What I Learned from #WHDemoDay

Rodney Williams, LISNR, at #WHDemoDayPresident Obama hosted the White House’s first ever Demo Day yesterday. Entrepreneurs from all across the U.S. (including myself!) were invited to join, share stories and demonstrate the role entrepreneurs have played in the U.S. economy.

The event also showcased several new initiatives designed to provide more Americans (especially minorities and women) with opportunities to turn their ideas into game-changing products and services. As Megan Smith, the first female U.S. Chief Technology Officer, put it: “So many Americans have the grit and creativity of a world-class entrepreneur, but they lack the resources–mentorship, networking, funding, training–to bring their ideas to fruition.” Now, programs like Start Up in a Day make it easier for small businesses to get up and running quickly and easily.

I was fortunate enough to speak about the genesis behind LISNR, but I was also inspired to hear others’ powerful stories about their innovations. Frankly, what struck me most was the determination and passion I heard from each and every entrepreneur. Too often all the attention and news soundbites are given to Silicon Valley, but there is a groundswell of disruptive innovation happening, in ways never imagined, across the country in every industry. From the company harvesting sheep manure to turn it into gas, to the company that makes smart blood testing devices, to many, many others at #WHDemoDay, it’s clear we need to make it easier to bring innovative ideas to market.

Several powerful statistics from #WHDemoDay:

  • The US is now the #1 place for tech innovation and investing (ahead of China).
  • 1 percent of small businesses (businesses with fewer than 500 employees) created 40 percent of the U.S. economy’s net new jobs.
  • Just 3 percent of America’s venture capital-backed startups are led by women.
  • Less than 1 percent of venture capital-backed business founders are African American.
  • Teams with at least one female founder perform 63 percent better than all-male teams.
  • Companies in top quartile for diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

#WHDemoDay Key Learnings

  • It’s in our blood. It’s remarkable President Obama opened his “house” to us on his 54th birthday. It felt like he was giving us a stage to showcase innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship are part of the American dream DNA. We owe it to ourselves to continue creating opportunities for anyone to be able to bring their ideas to market. So much data and momentum shows supporting these ideas will build a brighter future for all of us.
  • Stick with it. One of the most powerful stories I heard was from Ramona Pierson, CEO of Declara. Despite a long and arduous recovery from a horrific accident, she continued to see opportunities for change and innovation. Everyone has an experience in life that leads to an AHA moment or a passion project, so stick with it—no matter how challenging it may get.
  • Be a thinker. It was a tremendous honor to be in the same room with Steve Case, Daymond John of Shark Tank fame, and nearly 100 other entrepreneurs from every walk of life. You don’t have to be a coder or possess technical skills to bring your idea to life. We have to keep thinking about those things we’re passionate about, or are a problem we have. Be a model for inspiring and motivating others to accomplish the seemingly impossible.

LISNR is a high frequency, inaudible technology; a new communication protocol that sends data over audio. As the leaders of the Internet of Sound, we use inaudible sound waves called SmartTones™, to transmit information.  LISNR essentially transmits customizable packets of data every second that enable proximity data transmission, second-screen functionality, authentication and low-fi device to deviceconnectivity on any LISNR enabled device.  We enable this functionality better and more efficiently than bluetooth (proximity), ACR (2nd Screen), and NFC/RFID (authentication). As an integrated software partner, LISNR can power devices to connect with world around better than ever before.