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7 LGBTQIA+ Entrepreneurs and Founders you Should Know

The LGBTQIA+ community is filled with creative, innovative and incredible individuals. This Pride Month, familiarise yourself with 7 inspirational entrepreneurs within the community.

Although there are steady improvements, it’s a sad fact that more than a third of LGBTQIA+ have hidden or disguised their status at work, for fear of discrimination. And although this is a continued struggle that needs accountability and improvement, there are a lot of reasons to celebrate too.

Continue reading and get to know some of the brightest LGBTQIA+ founders, technologists, and out there. These trailblazers are creating space for themselves and others in their respective industries.

LGBTQIA+ business owners

Fran Dunaway (she/her) is a media executive that turned her creative spirit to fashion when she co founded TomboyX. This LGBTQIA+ brand was created in 2013, to provide gender neutral underwear and apparel. The brand started as a passion project in collaboration with her wife and co founder Naomi Gonzalez (she/her) to create the perfect button up shirt. The focus shifted on to an underwear solution to meet the demand for a boxer brief for women.

What drives Fran is a belief that brands can inspire positive change. When a brand gets its messaging right, it can inspire people and promote inclusivity of gender.

Stephanie Lamkin (she/her) co founded Blendoor in 2015. An inclusive recruiting software, Blendoor was designed to ensure hiring processes are fair and balanced - to support diversity and inclusion within the workplace. Blendoor enables companies to hire based on merit, not moulds, by using performance data in their algorithms. The state of the art data science underpinning their software allows companies to effectively balance people, the planet and profitability.

Stephanie has navigated an 18 year career in the technology sector, working for companies such as Microsoft, TripAdvisor and Deloitte. Throughout her personal and professional life, Stephanie has faced bias and barriers that she had to overcome. This has made her passionate about helping companies to remove any limitations to attracting top talent.

Angelica Ross (she/her) is a self taught computer programmer and founder/CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises. TransTech is a “coworking, colearning community dedicated to empowering trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer people and allies with practical, career ready skills.”

Angelica Ross aims to bring economic empowerment to marginalised communities. She’s a leading figure in the movement for transgender and racial equity. And, her great work hasn’t gone unnoticed - as she’s built popularity and success across different media, such as film, TV and online.

Through leading TransTech with her passion and drive, the enterprise aims to learn and work with allies to develop skills and value within marginalised LGBTQ communities.

Troy Douglas (he/him) is the founder of Nexba, an Australian brand leading naturally sugar-free product innovation. Troy was still in full time education when Nexba was founded and his journey wasn’t short of barriers to overcome.

“I had started the business with my brother-in-law, but I was also insecure about my gay identity, and I was nervous about people knowing that I was struggling.”

Troy Douglas, speaking to Gaingels

But, Troy discovered that being open with your background in business could be an asset. He understood that individuality and being authentic to who you are can be a great strength in business, creating networks and kinship amongst the business community.

Six years on from selling products out of a van, Nexba had a globally protected natural sweetener blend that tastes every bit as good as sugar itself, but without anything artificial. Nexba plans to continue their growth and international expansion.

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Hayley Sudbury (she/her) founded WERKIN with the belief that leaders that prioritise inclusivity can unlock peak performance for their businesses. WERKIN is a people analytics platform, pioneering modern leadership and inclusive organisational design.

By using behavioural science, WERKIN promotes diversity in the workplace, helping business leaders to master the skills and behaviours needed to be inclusive. Hayley was named one of the top 100 global LGBT+ executives on the OUTstanding list for 2020.

Before founding the company, Hayley’s career was in financial services. In her experience in the industry, she recognised that there was a need for more mentors and role models for women, LGBT+ individuals and ethnic minorities. Being passionate about mentoring herself, Hayley now encourages young women to pursue STEM careers.

Brianna Lipovsky (she/her) was a former agency executive who developed top brands for other businesses. She founded Maison d’Etto using her incredible attention to detail, vast knowledge of the fashion, luxury, lifestyle and beauty industries, as well as her fierce passion! Maison d’Etto is a luxurious brand of artisanal fragrances, created by Brianna to inspire moments of connection, reflection, and well being. Her gender-neutral luxury scent creations have been developed to offer a modern take on the luxury fragrance business model.

Dr. Janelle Briggs (she/her) is working to revolutionise the real estate business with Stackhouse, a container living company that’s specialising in eco friendly, elevated living. The offer is a solution to the dramatic rise to the cost of urban housing. With many barriers in place to prevent people accessing real estate, Briggs is aiming to change how people own and finance their home.

Stackhouse is a talented group of entrepreneurs and engineers hoping to design and build a better version of the future.

In summary

While Pride Month is great for encouraging big brands to show support and increase the visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s also important to hear directly from LGBTQIA+owned brands. To give us a true reality of the work we need to do, we must listen and learn about the successes and challenges people are still facing in 2022. And, of course, celebrate the amazing and diverse businesses owned by some inspiring founders.

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