As Frank Sinatra famously sang, accidents will happen. It's a simple fact of life that not everything will run as it should – and sometimes this has tragic and fatal consequences. Elon Musk is in hot water, with a lawsuit being filed against him and his company, Tesla, following the death of an 18-year old who was killed when a Tesla Model S battery malfunctioned. This isn't an isolated incident – there have been 12 cases of Tesla S batteries exploding or spontaneously combusting leading to accidents and injuries. But just what comes after something serious like this for a company?
The case against Tesla is up in the air, mainly because of the stringent insurance that Tesla will have to protect themselves. That's why it's such a cautionary tale about the importance of general liability insurance for small business, as having the right insurance can help protect your company and customers alike.
General liability insurance coverage, in particular, is vital for any business as it covers everyone involved against bodily and personal injury as well as property damage. Most importantly, it helps cover against accident lawsuits, which can alone bankrupt a company.
In addition to ensuring you have the right insurance to protect your company and customers following an accident, part of surviving the fallout of a situation like this as a company is making changes to your product to reduce the possibility of a similar accident happening again.
For example, Golden Age actress Jayne Mansfield also changed the course of history for tractor-trailers. An accident that ended up killing the star changed the regulations on tractor-trailers to prevent future accidents. Mansfield's death added stronger safety features into a potentially dangerous contraption, aptly named Mansfield Bars or underride bars, which prevent anything from sliding underneath them. Accidents can cause a company or an entire industry to change the processes and methods in which they do things.
Accidents in other companies can lead to serious change regarding how they are viewed. British theme park Alton Towers cultivated a terrible reputation following an accident on their rollercoaster, which forced a young woman to have to endure a leg amputation. The social media uproar and customer distrust of the company grew and resulted in sales for the Merlin brand dropping for their theme park offering.
The BP oil accident at Deepwater Horizon, which was later made into a film, was another example of an accident leading to terrible publicity for the brand, as well as showing the fullest extent that accident lawsuits can go to, with BP paying over $42 billion. The CEO Tony Hayward was so embattled that he made a public gaffe by claiming “I'd like my life back" when he was done with answering questions on the spillages along the US Gulf Coast. The public tide began to turn on the fossil fuel provider, and people began looking at alternative methods that weren't liable to cause as many accidents. PR meltdowns could lead to devastation for companies, all because their safety protocol wasn't in place and an accident happened.
Accidents are awful, but a fact of life. There is nothing that we can do to prevent them – but we can protect ourselves should they happen. Ensuring that nothing can go wrong is vital, and often where companies find their downfall is when evidence of reckless endangerment or incorrect practices is unveiled. But, when the definition of the word accident can be applied, the best policy is to ensure that we are as protected from the aftermath as possible.
We're here. We're queer. Now that it's pride month, it feels like every store and corporation is flooding us with their best rainbow merchandise, capitalizing on a $917 billion dollar consumer market.
The rainbow flags are out. The mannequins are sporting pride tees. And corporate newsletters are full of interviews showcasing all their queer employees ("Look, we have a gay person here! We GET you!").
To me, this is blatant evidence that the future is queer.
These corporations follow the money, and with 20% of millennials and 31% of Gen Z openly identifying as queer, these businesses have to capitalize on the growing purchasing power of LGBTQIA+ consumers. With a recorded market size of $917 billion dollars in 2016, and a growing interest in socially conscious brands among young consumers, this is clearly a market opportunity that corporations cannot afford to ignore.
However, I'm always surprised by how little attention investors and the entrepreneurial community devotes to this undeniable trend, despite being constantly inundated with overwhelming statistics proving the importance of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. Only 2.2% of venture capital funding went to women in 2018, less than .1% of funding has been allocated to black women since 2009, and only about 1% of venture-backed companies have a black founder or Latinx founder. These statistics are over-quoted but underacted upon.
This gender and diversity inequality significantly hinders economic growth, since 85% of all consumer purchases are controlled by women, and startups with higher ethnic diversity tend to produce financial returns above their industry norm.
The data is clearly leading to one direction: investing in women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, veterans, immigrants, and other minority groups in entrepreneurship leads to higher revenue and better business results.
As data-driven and forward-thinking as this industry claims to be, we haven't caught up to the queer founders, particularly queer women, who are rethinking the future. These founders understand and speak to a generation of increasing numbers of LGBTQIA+ people whose market share will only continue to grow exponentially. VCs and investors are already behind the curve.
SoGal Foundation, a non-profit on a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship, is helping bridge this divide between queer women founders and investors with the launch of applications for the second annual Global Pitch Competition for diverse entrepreneurs. Hosted in 25+ cities across five continents, and culminating in a final global pitch competition and 3-day immersive educational bootcamp in Silicon Valley, this is the first and only globally-focused pitch opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs.
Startups that are pre-Series A (raised less than $3M) with at least one woman or diverse founder, apply here to pitch! The top teams selected from each regional round will join SoGal's final global pitch competition and bootcamp in Silicon Valley for guaranteed face time with dozens of top Silicon Valley investors, curated educational programming, unparalleled 1:1 mentorship, press exposure, and a chance to win investment capital.
Women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ founders: what's the best way to kick off pride? Apply to pitch!
Regional pitch rounds will be held August-November 2019; final pitch competition in Silicon Valley in February 2020. Details and additional cities to be announced.
SoGal Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the largest global platform for diverse founders and funders in 40+ chapters across 5 continents; our mission is to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship. SoGal Foundation's global startup competition represents the first and largest opportunity for women and diverse entrepreneurs and investors to connect worldwide. Join the SoGal community & follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.