We gathered information for #ProjectDiane using a variety of standard data collection techniques. Self-reporting and community data sources utilizing a form located on projectdiane.com was our primary approach. This method of data collection has some limits, such as awareness bias and misreporting, which may have affected the quality of data collected.
To reduce these biases, we also collected data on the racial and gender makeup of companies in Crunchbase and AngelList databases, two of the industry's leading startup databases. This, too, had its limits. Racial and gender identity, for example, were determined by outward appearances - there may be some founders who self identify as a “woman” or as “Black” (or not), and, therefore, may be misclassified. Also many Black founders may not be aware of these databases, leading to inclusion biases.
There are a number of founders who were added to #ProjectDiane who are not included in these preliminary results because we were unable to independently verify certain aspects of their information. Whenever possible, we tried to confirm the amount of funding raised via outside sources such as press releases and by contacting the Founder and/or their investor directly.
We only included founders who had a working website and/or minimal viable product as of October 2015, including those with only a splash page. Founders with their minimum viable product still in development, or those who were operating in “stealth mode,” were not included in #ProjectDiane unless we could directly verify that a product did, in fact, exist or was in development. There may be founders who are "Intrapreneurs", directing autonomous or semi-autonomous entities within or as spinouts of larger corporations that was not included in the #ProjectDiane database.
DID was able to look retrospectively through the Crunchbase database, which started in 2007, to identify startups led by Black women prior to 2013, which is when our independent data collection began. We only discovered three companies that we were not aware of via this process. This doesn’t mean that there were no Black women startups prior to 2013, but it may suggest that Black women founders may not have been aware of Crunchbase.
A great deal of effort was made to build awareness of #ProjectDiane and to identify Founders via DID’s strong social media presence and abundant support from the press (including a feature article in Fast Company and a write-up in INC).
DID’s work is primarily focused in the U.S., with limited activities in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, and the #ProjectDiane data reflects this. It is our hope to do more work in the future on entrepreneurship and innovation outside the US so that we will be able to compare data points and growth metrics to see differences and similarities in a global context.