Why does diversity matter for startups?

“Great talent often doesn’t look and act like you.” (Eric Shmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg, How Google Works, 2014) 

Imagine sitting around the table with three of your closest confidants. You’re starting a business together.

Who’s at the table?

For most of us, the people around the table will have similar backgrounds – whether it be cultural or socioeconomical. This makes sense because we, as people, travel in packs that are comprised of people with mutual acceptance and agreeableness. Often, this means our packs are homogeneous.

And that is OK. Not spectacular, but OK.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” – General Patton

Now, imagine it’s 2.5 years later.

Your business has been successful (woohoo!), but you’ve recently hit a plateau. Sales have flat-lined. You and your associates decide to bring some diversity to the leadership team – people with new ideas and perspective that can help take the company to the “next” level.

After 6 months, your company is back on the upward trajectory you were on.

This is why the topic of diversity is important for startups.

“People from different backgrounds see the world differently. Women and men, whites and blacks, Jews and Muslims, Catholics and Protestants, veterans and civilians, gays and straights, Latinos and Europeans, Klingons and Romulans, Asians and Africans, wheelchair-bound and able-bodied: these differences of perspective generate insights that can’t be taught. When you bring them together in a work environment, they integrate to create a broader perspective that is priceless.” (Eric Shmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg, How Google Works, 2014 – can you tell how much I like this book?)

What if you began with a diverse group of leaders from the start? How would that have affected your strategy? What about your sales? Instead of waiting for your company to flat-line, what if you started with diversity in the leadership and can proactively tackle the problem of stagnation?

TreeHouseEDU: Why Does Diversity and Inclusion Matter?

As startups, we forget about diversity when we’re assembling our team. We’re stressed. Bootstrapping it. And, in all honesty, we’re just excited to acquire our first follower. So, the thought about setting up our team for success by making sure we include diverse leadership falls by the wayside.

This is why we’re having our TreeHouseEDU: Why Does Diversity and Inclusion Matter? eventHonestly, why does it matter? Because diversity sets your company up for financial success.

On Tuesday, February 17th at 6pm come hear from: 

Mark Haidar, CEO, Vinli

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.32.58 PMThroughout his career, Mark has been able to build more than 42 different notable products and grow several technology-based businesses. Mark cofounded Dialexa, a global product-focused technology innovation and development company headquartered in Dallas. During his tenure as the Co-CEO, Dialexa grew at an exponential rate with clients ranging from venture-backed startups to fortune 20 companies and governments around the world. In 2014, Dialexa started a division under the name of Dialexa Labs; a self funded venture lab that develops internal products or services that spins out new companies. In Sept 2014, Dialexa Labs launched Vinli, the first connected car platform at Techcrunch Disrupt. Mark is currently serving as the CEO of Vinli. Mark has numerous journal publications, pending patents, and is a regular speaker at global technology conferences.

Lamont Robinson, VP Supplier Diversity, Nielson

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.33.13 PMIn 2012, Lamont joined Nielsen as the Vice President of Supplier Diversity. His passion for supplier diversity allows him to incorporate creativity into solutions needed for Nielsen constituents. He was honored by MBN magazine as one of the Top 75 Leading Men in Corporate Diversity, and by the same magazine as leading one of the top 101 supplier diversity programs. Nielsen’s program was honored by Black EOE Journal as being one of the Top Supplier Diversity Programs for African Americans and by Women’s Enterprise USA magazine as one of WE Corporations of the Year. Lamont authored his autobiography “TransformNational: Journey of a Bastard” which details his personal experiences in overcoming challenges on Chicago’s violent West Side to achieve success.

Evelyn Torres, Solaris Technologies, CEO

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.33.22 PMEvelyn Torres is the Founder and chief executive officer of Solaris Technologies, Inc.   Founded in Irving, Texas during 2010, Solaris Technologies provides a wide range of network products and services to support IT infrastructure at a competitive cost point.   Evelyn used her telecommunications and import and export experience to start Solaris Technologies, and has established long-term relationships with worldwide Telecom suppliers and customers.   Currently the company has its Headquarters in Irving Texas with offices in Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, Brazil and Chile.


Liji Thomas, CPA, CIA, CRMA
, Senior Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Southwest Airlines

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.33.34 PMLiji’s experiences range from lobbying on Capitol Hill to developing and modifying complex information systems. In 2008, Liji joined the Internal Audit Department of Southwest Airlines. During her time in Internal Audit, Liji led the company’s first Capitalization of Labor Audit and published an article based on her experiences in the October 2010 issue of Internal Auditor magazine. Currently, Liji serves as Senior Manager of Diversity and Inclusion for Southwest Airlines, informing all aspects of Diversity and Inclusion strategy for the nation’s largest domestic airline.


Amy Czuchlewski, Senior Director of Mobile Engineering, BottleRocket

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.33.42 PMAmy Czuchlewski is the Director of Mobile Engineering at Bottle Rocket. She brings over 15 years of experience in the telecommunications industry to her current leadership role. In 2014, Czuchlewski joined Bottle Rocket to oversee mobile engineering. Under her leadership, Bottle Rocket has restructured its development teams and strived for maximum efficiency.  Prior to joining Bottle Rocket, Czuchlewski held leadership positions at Accenture, LLP, Blackberry, and ADT Security Services – aiding with web and mobile development, software product delivery, and telecommunications consulting.



Early bird tickets are on sale now. We invite you to join us for this exciting panel conversation moderated by Emmy-Award winning journalist Rebecca Aguilar. We promise you will walk away with a new perspective on what diversity and inclusion means.


Paula Andrea Gean

Hailing from the piney woods of East Texas, Paula loves yoga, writing, marketing, tech & diversity related topics. She belongs to the Global Shapers, an initiative of the World Economic Forum, is a 2014 Dallas Business Journal's Women in Technology awardee and dreams of bettering the world. Follow Paula on Twitter @Agean6.