Solution Overview

What is the name of your organization?


What is the name of your solution?


Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

TechRise is a multi-stakeholder initiative that empowers BIPOC and Women/Non-Binary/Trans founders to grow and scale their tech business through a series of mentorship and weekly pitch competitions providing between $25K - $50K in non-dilutive funding.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

Chicago is one of the most diverse cities in the country, and in recent news has been recognized as a top destination for underrepresented founders. Despite this recent recognition as the #1 city in America for underrepresented, early-stage founders, the capital necessary for women STEM entrepreneurs to succeed still lags far behind. Since 2019, startups in Chicago that have a woman founder captured just 5.7% of all venture capital deployed. Despite only raising 5.7% of total venture capital since 2019, 23% of all startups participating in deals had a woman founder. This disparity highlights the glaring fact that woman founded startups receive less venture capital than their male counterparts, despite higher rates of participation. Ultimately this limits the ability for these women STEM founders to create high-growth companies that can cultivate increased wealth creation and job opportunities in their communities, while simultaneously solving some of the world’s most significant problems.

Women STEM founders face larger barriers to entry because they lack access to:

1. Capital. Many women founders do not have the network wealth to support the "Friends and Family" round of funding typically needed to get idea stage companies to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

2. Knowledge. Our city's startup resources and training are fragmented and difficult to find at every stage of the startup lifecycle. Often resources are gated behind membership walls (private incubators and colleges).

3. Network. Women founders from our city's South and West Sides rarely have friends or family who have launched or scaled a startup and so lack access to mentors, investors, talent, service providers and customers.

What is your solution?

TechRise is a multi-stakeholder initiative to support BIPOC and Women/Non-Binary/Trans Chicago Tech Founders from idea stage to exit through three main pillars:

1. Capital. A series of pitch competitions awarding $25K-$50K non-dilutive grants to underrepresented idea to seed stage tech founders.

2. Networks. An online community to help diverse founders find funding, peers, training, and mentorship to launch and grow thriving tech-enabled businesses.

3. Knowledge.  Bringing visibility and support to a variety of training and development resources for diverse founders, starting with Black Tech Accelerator at 1871.

TechRise tackles the challenges women founders face head on by:

1) Introducing existing and aspiring women founders to VC-backed founders, local angel investors, and venture capitalists across the country.

2) Hosting highly visible pitch competitions livestreamed over YouTube ( that grants $25K to $50K of non-dilutive funding in the hands of entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. These competitions also help VCs with new pattern recognition and allow Chicago founders to be seen by investors across the country.

3) Post competition all founders are navigated to the appropriate resource in Chicago to help them with their journeys. Through “TechRise OnDeck”, P33 staff help coordinate skills-based volunteers from our corporate partners ERGs to help founders with tangible deliverables like email marketing, modeling and projections, and technical consulting.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

The TechRise Initiative Powered By P33 specifically supports Black, Indigenous, and People of Color participants as well as Women, Non-Binary, and Trans founders. For the purposes of this challenge, P33 will specifically focus on support women founders, with a particular emphasis on BIPOC women founders. Chicago is the most racially distributed city in the U.S. with nearly 30% representation across our Black, Latinx, and White communities, however, only a small fraction of venture funding (1.9%) goes to Black and Latinx founders. Women too, are underrepresented in both non-dilutive and venture funding in Chicago despite the fact that a 51.2% of Chicago’s residents are women (1,117,593) and a study by Boston Consulting Group found that women entrepreneurs outperformed their male counterparts over a 5-year span: $730,000 in average revenue to $662,000.

One of the most crucial areas for investment in startup gender equity is supporting early-stage founders to get their startups on track for growth and scale. BIPOC and W/T/NB tech founders face larger barriers to entry because they often lack sufficient personal or network wealth for a traditional “friends and family” round of funding, a network of peers or mentors to help guide them through the startup process, access to affordable service providers, and pathways to angel or venture capital investors. Programs must be implemented to reduce this disparity and ensure that all founders have equitable access to the support they need to be successful.

P33’s solutions will help diverse women-founded startups succeed in Chicago by providing equitable access to non-dilutive funding, providing meaningful mentorship opportunities for early-stage founders to connect with relevant networks, and providing workshops and training to close knowledge gaps about the entrepreneurial process in a hybrid, virtual and in-person model. The revenue growth and job creation spurred by the success of these startups will serve as a metric of long-term economic development and wealth creation for historically under-capitalized groups. P33’s proposed solution will tackle the structural challenge of the historic underrepresentation of BIPOC women founders. By choosing to focus on underrepresented founders exclusively, P33’s programming can provide said founders a better chance to start or grow their business, thereby increasing diversity in the technology and small business space while simultaneously creating new jobs in the area.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

P33’s TechRise Team is led by Executive Director Desiree Vargas Wrigley, a two-time Chicago-based Latina founder whose passion for supporting underrepresented founders has allowed TechRise to greatly exceed expectation in the first two years. The TechRise team is 66% women and P33’s overall staff identifies as 75% women and 62% are people of color.

In 2019, P33 began its mission to transform Chicago into a tier one technology & innovation hub and to promote inclusive economic growth.  P33 brings business, technology, nonprofit, and government stakeholders together to catalyze solutions that will make Chicagoland an inclusive tech leader. Our mobilization efforts include engaging companies, students, and universities to attract & retain talent, building a community of underrepresented tech founders, as well as bringing together Chicagoland’s academic institutions to collaborate around our regional strengths and priorities.

P33 was able to build trust and rapport with these communities through intentional partnerships and hiring. P33’s Founders team represents a diverse mix of identities including staff who are  successful entrepreneurs and who represent SEDI-groups themselves. This experience gives our Founders team an intimate understanding of the barriers faced by SEDI entrepreneurs and the compassion to effectively work with this population. Similarly, intentional collaboration with groups with trusted ties to the underrepresented entrepreneurial community was central to P33’s success. Thus, partnerships with agencies such as the Women’s Business Development Center, LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hustlemommies, the Latinx Incubator, RareBreed Ventures, Sunshine Enterprises, and Genius Guild helped fill P33’s recruitment pool and provided necessary resources and expertise to collaboratively amplify the impact of this work on SEDI populations in Chicago. 

In its first year, TechRise worked with 119 underrepresented founders and awarded just under $1M to 41 competition winners. In the three years prior to TechRise’s launch, this same community of founders had raised a cumulative $8.8M since founding their businesses. After TechRise launched its first season, these founders increased their collective funding by 119%, raising an additional $10.6M in just 8 months. Their businesses also grew revenue by a median of 30% and created 193 new jobs. Having completed its second year, TechRise has now supported a total of 538 founders to date in raising $48.9M in additional funding since TechRise, outperforming impact goals nearly three years ahead of schedule. This is a 217% increase in funding prior to TechRise ($22.5M). Additionally, on average these startups saw a 25% increase in quarterly revenue growth and are currently employing 649 people.  

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

  • Enable women STEM entrepreneurs to participate and thrive in the entrepreneurial ecosystem by providing access to capital, resources, or network-building, or diversifying the investor landscape.

In what city and state is your solution team headquartered?

Chicago, IL, USA

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model that is rolled out in one or more communities

How many people does your solution currently serve?

120 BIPOC and women founders are invited to participate in TechRise annually (i.e. will pitch on-stage as part of the TechRise Pitch Competition)

Why are you applying to the Challenge?

The TechRise program began as a pilot program in Chicago, IL with an intention to scale nationally. Now in its third year, P33 has seen tremendous success with a 17X ROI, surpassing our five-year goal of 10x in follow-on funding for underrepresented founders in just one year. Having demonstrated the success of TechRise in Chicago, we would love to work with MIT Solve and Tiger Global Impact Ventures to explore the opportunity of scaling this programming nationally. This will include a thorough needs assessment to identify particular communities across the country with high proportions of underrepresented capital seeking funding, as well as the pursuit of national partnerships with organizations who share similar values.

Additionally, P33 is exploring the opportunity of launching a regional Velocity Fund to directly invest in BIPOC and women STEM founders across the Midwest. The TechRise program began as an intentional effort to provide non-dilutive, friends and family rounds of funding to early-stage founders. By utilizing the support provided by MIT Solve and Tiger Global Impact Ventures, P33 can gain the necessary knowledge, expertise, and network to navigate the complexities of launching a fund focused on investing in early-stage BIPOC and women founders. The comprehensive support program will help P33 refine their investment strategy, build a strong foundation for the fund, and increase their overall impact in promoting gender equity in STEM entrepreneurship.

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Desiree Vargas Wrigley

How is your Team Lead connected to the community or communities in which your project is based?

Desiree Vargas Wrigley is a Chicago-based Latina serial entrepreneur and Chief Innovation Officer of P33, Executive Director of TechRise by P33, and founder of The Josephine Collective, an angel group focused on empowering women and people of color to become investors. Her companies include Pearachute, a company that helps parents and children drop into the best family activities in town. Prior to launching Pearachute, Desiree co-founded GiveForward, the world’s leading crowd giving platform for people facing a major life event. Under her leadership, the company helped friends and family contribute nearly $160M to loved ones in need.

After graduating from Yale, Desiree worked at the Kauffman Foundation as a specialist in entrepreneurship and at Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors. She taught New Venture Discovery at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Desiree has been named Inc's 30 Under 30, Crain's 40 Under 40, one of Parents Magazine's Most Inspiring Moms, one of Forbes Women to Watch, and has appeared on Shark Tank, closing one of the largest deals on the show to date. Having experienced the challenges of being a women of color in the venture capital industry, she has a deep understanding and proximity to the solutions necessary to help overcome these barriers for women entrepreneurs and has committed her career to doing so.

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

The P33 TechRise Initiative is innovative for several reasons:

1.     Holistic Approach: The TechRise Initiative takes a holistic approach to address the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. It combines educational initiatives, entrepreneurship support, and collaborative partnerships to create a comprehensive ecosystem that nurtures talent, fosters innovation, and drives economic growth. By integrating these elements, TechRise offers a unique and multifaceted solution to the complex issues surrounding technological advancement.

2.     Focus on Inclusion: One of the key innovative aspects of the TechRise Initiative is its strong emphasis on inclusion. By prioritizing underrepresented groups such as BIPOC and women, the program aims to reduce the existing disparities in access to technology and opportunities. This focus on inclusivity ensures that the benefits of the digital revolution are accessible to a broader range of individuals, promoting diversity, equity, and social empowerment.

3.     Collaboration and Partnerships: P33 recognizes the power of collaboration and forms strategic partnerships with various stakeholders, including educational institutions, corporations, government agencies, and nonprofits. These collaborations allow TechRise to leverage existing resources, expertise, and networks, expanding its reach and impact. By fostering collaboration across sectors, TechRise creates a synergistic environment that maximizes the potential for innovation and positive change.

4.     Investment in Entrepreneurship: The TechRise Initiative recognizes the critical role that entrepreneurship plays in driving technological innovation and economic growth. By providing mentorship, resources, and access to networks of investors, TechRise actively supports aspiring founders in launching and scaling their ventures. This investment in entrepreneurship helps create a thriving startup ecosystem, fostering job creation, economic prosperity, and long-term sustainability.

5.     Sustainable Funding Models: P33's exploration of various funding models, including public-private partnerships, grants, corporate sponsorships, and the potential establishment of a dedicated fund for BIPOC and women founders, showcases its innovative approach to financial sustainability. By diversifying funding sources and exploring new avenues, TechRise ensures the program's longevity and scalability, reducing dependency on a single funding stream.

 Overall, the P33 TechRise Initiative's innovation lies in its comprehensive, inclusive, and collaborative approach to address the challenges and opportunities of the digital era. By integrating education, entrepreneurship, partnerships, and sustainable funding models, TechRise provides a dynamic and adaptable framework for fostering technological literacy, driving innovation, and promoting equitable access to opportunities in the digital age.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Now in the third and final year of its pilot phase, the TechRise Impact Goals are: 

  1. Establish Chicago as the best city for BIPOC and women founders in the U.S. 
  2. Create sustainable assets and wealth for BIPOC and women tech founders by increasing funding in their businesses.  
  3. Increase the number of employees for BIPOC and women founded tech companies to narrow the wealth gap and feed the diverse talent pipeline. 

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

As measured by: 

1. Total venture funding to BIPOC and women tech founders each year. 

2. Number of new BIPOC and women tech businesses founded each year. 

3. Number of employees at diverse businesses. 

4. Median quarterly revenue growth of BIPOC and women tech businesses.

5. Mentor and investor relationships facilitated through our online community.

Describe in simple terms how and why you expect your solution to have an impact on the problem.

TechRise has already demonstrated a positive impact on BIPOC and women STEM startups. In just two years TechRise has disseminated nearly $2M in non-dilutive capital to underrepresented founders. These founders have gone on to raise $48.9M in follow on funding (217% increase), experienced a 25% increase in median quarterly revenue growth, and employ nearly 650 individuals. 57% of TechRise participants identified as women and 63% identified as Black. More information can be found in P33's Impact Report and a recent Forbes articlehighlighting the positive impact of this program on Chicagoland BIPOC and women entrepreneurs.

Ultimately, the TechRise program enables women STEM entrepreneurs to thrive due to several key factors:

1.     Access to Resources: TechRise addresses the resource gap that often hinders BIPOC and women entrepreneurs by providing access to crucial resources. The program offers educational initiatives, mentorship, and networking opportunities, enabling these startups to acquire essential knowledge, skills, and connections necessary for success. By leveling the playing field and providing equitable access to resources, TechRise empowers BIPOC and women founders to overcome barriers and thrive in the startup ecosystem.

2.     Inclusive Entrepreneurship: The TechRise Initiative actively promotes inclusive entrepreneurship by focusing on supporting BIPOC and women founders. By intentionally nurturing and investing in underrepresented entrepreneurs, the program helps create a more diverse and inclusive startup landscape. This inclusivity leads to a broader range of perspectives, innovative ideas, and unique solutions that can address the needs and challenges of diverse communities.

3.     Networking and Mentorship: TechRise facilitates networking and mentorship opportunities for BIPOC and women startups. Through partnerships with corporations, educational institutions, and organizations, the program connects these founders with experienced mentors, industry professionals, and potential investors. Such connections can provide guidance, advice, and valuable insights, helping BIPOC and women entrepreneurs build strong networks and navigate the startup ecosystem effectively.

4.     Capital and Funding Opportunities: TechRise recognizes the importance of capital in fueling startup growth and success. Through its implementation of a multi-million dollar fund dedicated to supporting BIPOC and women founders, as mentioned in a recent Forbes article, TechRise aims to provide financial support specifically tailored to the needs of these early-stage entrepreneurs. Access to capital is often a significant challenge for underrepresented founders, and TechRise's commitment to addressing this issue demonstrates its positive impact on BIPOC and women startups.

5.     Ecosystem Development: P33's TechRise Initiative contributes to the overall development of the startup ecosystem in Chicago. By fostering collaboration, partnership, and inclusive practices, TechRise helps create an environment where diverse-owned startups can thrive. The program's initiatives provide physical spaces and platforms for BIPOC and women founders to connect, learn, and collaborate. This ecosystem development creates a supportive infrastructure that fosters the growth and success of underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Overall, TechRise's positive impact on BIPOC and women startups stems from its commitment to providing equitable access to resources, fostering inclusive entrepreneurship, facilitating networking and mentorship, offering funding opportunities, and contributing to the development of a supportive startup ecosystem. By addressing the unique challenges faced by underrepresented founders, TechRise empowers BIPOC and women entrepreneurs to thrive, succeed, and make a significant impact in the startup world.

If your solution is tech-based, describe the core technology that powers your solution.

P33 will use the Common App as a tech-enabled tool to support match making between startups and local resources/access to capital. Currently in development, the Common App presents an exciting opportunity to provide founders on-demand access and recommendations to capital opportunities. This will include investor connections, grant and funding programs (SBIR, STTR, SSBCI, etc.), accelerator stipends, and more. The Common App will be a web-based application (mobile-responsive) that startups, investors, and ecosystem partners will use to maintain profiles that make them eligible for matching with other entities or resources in the ecosystem. For example, startups will receive investor matches according to their stage, sector, desired traction, and diversity focus. In the first year, P33  expects to onboard 500 founders and 100 capital sources (investment firms, venture studios, angel investors, and ecosystem partners) to opt into the platform and automated introductory process. 

The Common App also provides founders with recommendations for accelerators, incubators, bootcamps, professional organizations, and other resources that are relevant to their business needs. This tool helps businesses build their capacity by connecting them with relevant resources to improve their knowledge, skills, and operations at the appropriate stage. The Common App will also feature match making capabilities to ensure that founders can easily access the resources and services they need here locally in Chicago. 

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which US states does your solution currently operate?


In which US states will your solution be operating within the next year?


Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?


How many people work on your solution team?

3 Full-Time Staff

How long have you been working on your solution?

2.5 Years

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

In 2019, P33 began its mission to turbocharge Chicagoland’s tech ecosystem and firmly establish our city as one of the most inclusive technology hubs in the United States. P33 brings business, technology, nonprofit, and government stakeholders together to catalyze solutions that will make Chicagoland an inclusive tech leader. Our mobilization efforts include engaging companies, students, and universities to attract & retain talent, building a community of underrepresented tech founders, as well as bringing together Chicagoland’s academic institutions to collaborate around our regional strengths and priorities. To accomplish our mission, P33 focuses on three major areas: 

  1. Talent (Workforce Development): making Chicagoland home to top-tier tech talent, reflective of our community. Some key initiatives include “Strong Start” which is a partnership with universities and companies to build inclusive tech-talent pipelines, and the “Tech Talent Alliance” which bridges the gap between students, academic institutions, and employers to make career paths clearer and more accessible for all.  
  1. Founders: cultivating and attracting world class and diverse founders. By investing in underrepresented founders, P33 will contribute to cultivating and attracting the world-class founders of tomorrow. P33 currently runs TechRise, OnDeck, and Speed Rounds programs to support Seed Stage to Series A founders in Chicago with a particular focus on BIPOC and Woman/Trans/Non-Binary founders.  
  1. Regional Priorities: positioning Chicagoland as a leader in emerging industries with substantial societal and human capital implications. Acting as a regional convener of companies, universities, startups, established tech companies, and talent, P33 will help build the ecosystem & regional collaboration necessary for Chicagoland to lead in emerging industries with substantial societal and human capital implications. Current focuses include Quantum Sciences, Life Sciences, and Climate/Sustainability tech.  

As such, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion have been central values that underpin every aspect of our organization’s work. P33 envisions a world in which every member of Chicago’s diverse community have the ability to participate and succeed within our tech ecosystem.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

TechRise is a multi-stakeholder initiative that started in partnership with Verizon to support Black and Latinx Chicago Tech Founders from idea stage to exit. Through weekly pitch competitions, founders get access to connections, resources, and capital to help their companies reach critical growth milestones. In its first two years, TechRise deployed nearly $2M in non-dilutive funding and TechRise founders have raised $48.9 million in follow-on funding. Each TechRise Pitch Competition awards between $25K and $50K in non-dilutive capital to a founder every week between the months of April and October.

TechRise supports capacity building for businesses by providing various resources and opportunities for founders to improve their pitches and connect with industry-aligned investors. The Pitch Framework Workshops and Office Hours offer feedback and guidance for founders to develop their pitch and present their ideas effectively. Mentorship for pitch coaching and improvement provides founders with personalized coaching to refine their pitch further. Face time and feedback with industry-aligned investors also helps businesses gain insights into the market and identify opportunities for growth while just-in-time workshops throughout the year provide knowledge and upskilling.  

TechRise also provides access to networks for BIPOC and W/T/NB founders in several ways. First, it offers mentor connections to help these founders develop their networks and receive pitch coaching support. Second, TechRise provides face time with three industry-aligned early-stage VC judges each week, which can be invaluable for founders looking to make connections in the venture capital community. Finally, the program has an online platform that features and highlights Chicago-based startups, with competitions streamed live via YouTube. This platform can be an excellent way for underrepresented founders to gain exposure and potentially connect with investors and other entrepreneurs. Additionally, the TechRise Finale brings together hundreds of investors and founders for networking as a final culminating event.  

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

TechRise is an initiative within P33 and has funding to support the program’s general operations through the 2024 fiscal year. Since its inception in 2019, P33 has received several large multi-year gifts to sustain its general operations and has allowed the TechRise program to expand. Since last year, P33 has hired additional staff to help support community management, operational needs, product development, and fundraising for TechRise. 

Additionally, P33 will be continuing its fundraising efforts to ensure the TechRise pre-seed prize fund is fully funded. We will achieve this through a combination of corporate philanthropy, institutional philanthropy, family foundations, one-time gifts, high net worth individuals, and crowdfunding efforts. We have already raised 84% of our fundraising goal for the current calendar year, but still have just under $200K to raise for the TechRise Prize Fund before we can ensure all the weekly pitch competitions through the remainder of the calendar year can provide a minimum $25K prize to each winner.   

P33 is also exploring the opportunity of launching the “Velocity Fund”, a multi-year initiative that will provide technical assistance, wrap-around support, pre-seed non-dilutive funding under TechRise, and direct investment into BIPOC and women founders throughout the region. This has already garnered significant interest from Chicago’s largest corporations and foundations.  

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

For the 2023 calendar year, P33 will disseminate $800K in non-dilutive funding to BIPOC and Women/Non-Binary/Trans Chicagoland founders and will require $130K in operating costs. TechRise has currently raised $778K for this year’s programming which amounts to nearly 84% of our total fundraising goal. This includes numerous corporations such as Verizon, Discover, and AT&T, as well as venture capital partners such as 81 Collection, Wintrust Ventures, and OCA Ventures. P33 also has a $3.75M pending federal grant from the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to support the TechRise program which will offset our operating costs and provide added funding for the TechRise Prize Fund for the next three years. 

P33 continues to cultivate relationships with local and national foundations, philanthropies, family offices, government, and high-net worth individuals to support the TechRise program. P33’s TechRise Prize Fund has historically drawn the majority of its donations from Chicago-based corporate philanthropy and venture capital firms. This year we will put a particular emphasis on sourcing funds from more high-net worth individuals and family offices in Chicagoland. Similarly, P33 continues to pursue corporate philanthropy and foundation support but will look to more national and regional stakeholders who have a priority towards supporting underrepresented founders. To supplement this, P33 will also continue its successful crowdfunding efforts.

Solution Team

  • LB LB
    Leen Bnyat Senior Development Officer, P33
  • Desiree Vargas Wrigley Chief Innovation Officer, P33, Executive Director, TechRise
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