September 21, 2020 (updated December 10, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
In this episode of OutBüro Voices featuring LGBTQ professionals, entrepreneurs, and community leaders from around the world, host Dennis Velco chats with Lorenzo Thione, Managing Director of Gaingles (https://www.gaingels.com), an LGTQ equality centric venture capital syndicate.
Lorenzo is a serial out gay entrepreneur, venture capitalist, writer, Broadway producer, and LGBTQ non-profit founder. Born and raised in Italy, he moved to the United States to attend college in Texas focusing on computational linguistic artificial intelligence. He co-founded his first start-up business right out of college and it’s been the entrepreneur’s path ever since.
Thione is the Managing Producer of Sing Out, Louise! Productions, the co-founder and CEO of The Social Edge, and a Managing Director at Gaingels (https://www.gaingels.com), a venture investment group based in NYC focused on investing and supporting LGBT+ founded/led startups, and socially responsible companies focused on supporting LGBTQ equality. In addition to his work as an entrepreneur, technologist and venture investor, Lorenzo is the co-creator/co-book writer and the lead producer of Allegiance, the 2015 Broadway musical starring George Takei and Lea Salonga. In developing Allegiance, he developed and deployed social-media viral strategies that led to the astounding growth and unprecedented awareness and audience engagement for both George Takei and Allegiance’s social media platforms, and – in turn – to the founding of The Social Edge, a social media management and marketing firm based in NYC. His producing credits include The Inheritance, Slave Play, Hadestown (Tony Award), Cher Show, The New One, Catch Me If You Can (Tony Nomination), and American Idiot. Additional IMDB credits: George Takei’s Allegiance (Director, Executive Producer), Bandstand – The Boys Are Back (Director, Executive Producer), Allegiance To Broadway (Executive Producer).
Besides being an active investor in the LGBT+ startup ecosystem via his position in Gaingels, Lorenzo is a founding board member and Chair Emeritus of StartOut, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering and developing entrepreneurship within the LGBT community. A native of Milan, Italy, Lorenzo holds an M.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and has co-authored several publications in Software Engineering and Computational Linguistics. He is an active investor, advisor, or board member, in over 80+ startups and a named inventor on over 30 pending and issued patents in the US and worldwide.
01:45 Lorenzo Thione provides a brief introduction
17:00 Description of companies Gainles invests in today as a venture syndicate through venture lead rounds: (1) LGBTQ owned (founders), (2) LGBTQ leaders in C-suite, (3) LGBTQ equality value-aligned companies
22:30 How social responsibility investing positively impact companies with an example of a negative impact with business reputation and customer trust lead to reduced financial performance
23:45 Gaingels has grown from investing about $4-million 4 years ago to about $20-million in 2019 and just surpassed $50-million in investments in this year (2020) alone.
24:00 Is there any chance companies are using Gaingels as window dressings like Pinkwashing investing?
Join Lorenzo on OutBüro, the LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur online community network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, allies and our employers who support LGBTQ welcoming workplace equality focused benefits, policies, and business practices. https://www.OutBuro.com
Celia is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, D&I champion, blogger, composer, musician, photographer, and filmmaker. She currently resides in southern California with her family. She is an Asian Indian who identifies as Gender Fluid and expresses as a Non-op trans woman of color. She goes by She/her pronouns.
Growing up as a lonely closeted trans kid in a conservative middle-class Christian home in southern India who lived with stigma, discrimination, and gender dysphoria, Celia writes and speaks passionately about her struggles and challenges she faced in her family, work, school, and community both in US and India.
Professional Background: She is a management consultant with over 20 years of demonstrated success in operating, growing, and spearheading strategic media, healthcare, and life sciences engagements for the fortune 500 companies across the globe. She has been consistently recognized for customer satisfaction aligning with global cross-functional teams with enterprise vision, strategies and plans, and maximizing ROI for multimillion-dollar healthcare and life science programs. She has a master’s degree in computer science.
As a diversity and inclusion champion she educates, empowers and advocates for transgender and gender non-binary individuals in the corporate world.
Community Advocate: Celia brings an amazing intersectional blend of ethnicity, creativity, culture, religion, and corporate experience in her activism. Currently, she does pro bono work for a couple of startups and volunteer for a few non-profit organizations, churches, institutions and community resource groups in United States and India, that support marginalized families and individuals by providing a safe space to address various issues relating to bullying, gender discrimination, medical, behavioral, mental and suicidal thoughts.
Celia brings a wonderful blend of ethnicity, culture, religion, and corporate experience in her “trans-evangelism”, as she calls it. She is currently focused on educating and building allies with local communities, businesses, churches, police dept, therapists, doctors, and organizations that fight for civil rights, transgender violence, youth empowerment, education, and employment.
• Received the 2019 Human Rights Campaign’s equality award for “Outstanding commitment and service to our community” .
• Served as the INTERNATIONAL AMBASSADOR for Sahodari foundation in 2018–2019, an India based transgender organization that empowers the transgender and gender non-binary community through education and training in creative arts.
• Contributed to the policy changes along with TransLatino Coalition in LA to make recommendations to the State for the trans/gnb community in California.
• Received the “2017 Visionary Award” from Satrang, a southern California south Asian LGBTQ+ community to honor the vision, bravery, and speaking strongly against injustice in this political climate against the Transgender community.
• Serve in the community advisory board for Fordham’s HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI), funded through the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
• She currents leads the Indivisible:Conejo LGBTQ+ ( Civil Right organization ) and active volunteer with TransCanWork, Diversity Collective, Toastmasters, PFLAG and FFLUID support groups in Southern California.
The below was created through voice to text recognition. We will strive to edit for accuracy as time permits. It may not be perfect. It is being provided for the hearing impaired to still enjoy the interview.
Unknown Speaker 0:06 Out Bureau, let’s chat, share, learn, grow and be inspired together. In each episode we’ll have casual and informative conversations with interesting LGBTQ professionals will chat with LGBTQ entrepreneurs about their inspiration, strategies, startup journey, successes and balanced with insights from lessons learned. We’ll also talk with leaders in diversity and inclusion and community allies across many sectors. Please subscribe to the podcast and join the online community at out bureau calm that’s o ut buro.com.
Unknown Speaker 0:54 Hi there, I’m Dennis Velco. With out bureau that is O UT be you R o.com. We are launching a video interview and podcast series to feature LGBT professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders throughout the globe. And I am so fortunate today to start off that global trotting with Silvia Daniels who was born and raised in India, and then immigrated to the United States, where she was working in as a business manager and and project manager and I’ll let her tell more of her story. Because sylia Daniels is a transgender activist, married to a female has a daughter and is active in the LA community area in the transgender community. Still, you thank you so much for taking time out of your extremely busy week to have a conversation with us. And we’re going to have a very casual as an all of our future conversations here on out euro calm, we’re going to have a very casual conversation. And we’re all human. So little snafu has happened in in our speech and words and so forth. But that’s okay. That’s what makes us all unique and human. So Celia. Wonderful, thank you so much for joining me today.
Unknown Speaker 2:25 Thank you so much, Dennis. I thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. And I’m so happy to be a part of your, your initiative. And it’s, it’s it’s such a blessing to be here.
Unknown Speaker 2:36 Well, thank you. So So yeah, yeah, we had an opportunity to get to know each other just a little bit about a week or so ago and you have such an interesting story. Could you give the viewers and the listeners a little bit of your history, you know, coming from India, tell us about, you know, kind of the beginnings of And of course having the focus in and around your awareness and, and issues and so forth as growing up in India. And so so I don’t want to preempt too much for you because it’s your story. So tell us a little bit about whatever you’re comfortable with and sharing.
Unknown Speaker 3:19 Yeah. Thank you, Dennis. Absolutely. So my name is Celia, Cynthia Daniels. I identify as a gender fluid person. And I express mold as a trans feminine woman. I’m a non of transgender, who’s an entrepreneur, and musician, a father, a husband, and also management consultant, and I have my own business. And I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing today because this is a really important, why just like ours needs to be heard. And thank you for Dennis for this platform. I’m so blessed and I’m so happy to be here.
Unknown Speaker 3:57 Absolutely.
Unknown Speaker 3:59 So I grew up in a, in a South Asian community about back in India. It’s a small town called Chennai. I grew up in this little town. And when I was four years old, my mom knew that I was different. And I told my mom that I wanted to be a goat. And those are the times I was dreaming about the aspect of being a girl. And I didn’t know that it was wrong. And that was something that I was told by my parents when I was almost seven years old. My mom told me that, hey, you cannot dress up or you cannot pretend to be a girl because you seem to like, you know, you’re thinking that you’re ago, I told my mom that I really wanted to be a girl. I was throwing tantrums and I was doing all kinds of things. And my mom told me that hey, I’m, you know, looking at the social constructs of the British government, which is so binary in India. She was absolutely clear that you’re a boy and you cannot be a girl anymore. That led to a lot of doubt in my mind, you know, I started from dreaming. And then I went to this point where I started doubting myself. And the biggest doubt they had was what’s going on with me. I’m a boy, why am I so interested in being a girl, I love girls and I wanted to be a girl. And growing up in a conservative community and a conservative household in India, it was really hard for me to be in a closet and I was completely closeted, and I didn’t want to express because it was very difficult. It was like having a white noise all the time in my head. That kept telling me that I’m a girl. And everything every morning I would wake up trying to prove to the public to my friends that I’m a boy. So I was I took part in some of the most interesting events in school in sports, and I was always trying to be Metro in my life and and i every aspect of it, I really enjoy it. But also I was going through a lot of trouble. Why you have these kind of emotions which are so difficult to handle as a child, I couldn’t talk to my parents about it. And they were conservative Christians. And I was not sure my mom would understand. They would just say pray about it. And I do believe in prayer, but at that time, it wasn’t really helping me as a child growing up with an inner trauma. And while I was growing up, I went through this doubt, and I didn’t believe in myself. And my self esteem went really low. And there was a point where, in my fourth grade, my uncle molested me. It was really hard for me to understand why he did that to me when I was a child. And just two years after that, I was again molested by my cousin brother. And that’s the time I felt so unworthy. I just blamed myself. I blamed my whole being that you know, they are doing it to me because I I am different. And probably I look like a girl to them. You know, I just took all that, and I couldn’t express it to anybody. It was really hard childhood.
Unknown Speaker 7:11 I tried killing myself. Many times, I had a lot of thoughts on self harm because I was doubting myself and I wish my parents were more open to understanding what was going on. I wish that community that I grew in, I was able to talk to someone in my doctor or my therapist or anybody, but that’s not how Indian culture was. When you have a mental problem. You just kind of, you know, suck it up. So I just suppressed my femininity and I learned to survive. I remember this dog kept going throughout my life. And I remember in my ninth grade I tried coming out. I would just leave a skirt and a top and a scarf around the head pretending to be a girl I went outside one evening, I was pulled by a few men who are in a construction site. They looked at me and said, that person looks different. And they watched me really close and said, Oh, that’s a huge boy. And they started making fun of me. All kinds of derogatory words that you can find in Tamil dictionary was on me. I stood there just helplessly, not knowing what to do. The only thought that roll my mind at the time was, I don’t want my parents to know. No matter what you do to me today, you can beat me up or you can tie me up or whatever, but I don’t want you to tell my dad. And that’s the kind of feeling I had, even in Amistad discrimination. And I was looking for some help and I pretended to speak Hindi. I was trying to distract them and I was successful in that. I spoke in some other language since I knew Hindi and they were confused and I said, I’m actually here for the market and, and I just I ran away literally ran away from that scene. I came back home scary. It was, and I was so scared. And the only you
Unknown Speaker 9:05 were only at ninth grade at that point,
Unknown Speaker 9:09 ninth grade the point? Well, the first thing that hit me was I, you know, the chain of events that happened in my life, I always thought that I’m not worthy. And when I, when this incident happened, it took me in, I was so upset that I wanted to kill myself. But I was afraid to die. And I was also afraid to live. It was such a difficult situation in your life where you don’t know whether to go further or go backwards. And my dream was to survive as a person who was going through these issues. My friends were looking at, you know, what are the possible colleges that can join? My only concern was how am I going to get through my college education with all those gender issues that I have? And I did, I focused on music, I did focus My my intention and a lot of things. Finally I remember
Unknown Speaker 10:05 I was
Unknown Speaker 10:07 I did well, I did valid college and I did my Master’s in computer science. And I was really good at music. And that kind of kept me going for a while I wrote my songs, and all my songs going about my stories, my inner turmoil that I was going through. And I agree,
Unknown Speaker 10:22 that’s a very good outlet. Now, did that college? I mean, depending on what year it was, you know, and of course, the country and culture. Did it have like a lot of images here in the United States, like an LGBT Resource Center for students or did that not exist for you?
Unknown Speaker 10:41 No, no. Um, so when I mean, I was born in the early late 60s, I would say in 70s, early 70s. When I went to college, it was in my late 80s. And in India, there was no focus on transgender community, living on LGBTQ community. There was only there was no focus on the transgender community. It was all about the hitter community. And it was all about the begging that’s going on in the streets, the sex work that they are doing. So the focus was more on a community that was ostracized by the society. And it was more of a pity party for them. You know, like, let’s help these people give them some food, try to get them off the streets. But they didn’t realize that a lot of people who have not come out are still like me, they are living in the in the same country. And but only Unfortunately, the colleges didn’t have any mental health or they didn’t have any resources for people who are struggling with mental health or gender dysphoria, as we call it now. But at the time, if you come on what happened was, you know, you were just put in a psychiatric ward and they gave you an anxiety medicine. And I remember one of my friend, I will be talking about her doctor colicky Subramaniam when she told me that when she came over Very early during her childhood, they were just she was just put in a psychiatric ward. And they were just the doctor said, there’s nothing wrong with your son. At that point he was identifying as a son. But the doctor said, you know, this is nothing that we can change because this person is like that. So it was really hard for any doctors, psychiatrists or therapists to really give a solution for someone like me in India at the time. So, I was from a stage of dreaming to doubting and then the next stage that I went to was denied. This was the most difficult stage because when you know that you have a problem and then you start looking at you know what, I can beat it. It’s nothing is gonna happen to me. I’m going to be fine. Maybe it’s some kind of a fetish. I’ll get over it. So I was my I was really, really interested in women and there was a time when I got married and my parents were asking me Would you want to get married? This is the time. It was because of the days of arranged marriage during those days, so I met my, my wife and my future wife at the time. And we were chatting and she asked me, Do you have anything in your life that you want to talk about? And I told her, no, I’m doing okay. You know, even at that time, I was absolutely sure that I would be able to get over this. So I thought this femininity will go away as I grow older. But we got married, I came to us I was in a good job. I was working for some good multinational firms in New York.
Unknown Speaker 13:39 While I was here, two years were fantastic. But the whole thing started coming back. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know and I was in denial. And I was telling myself that, oh my god, I thought if I get married, this will go away. But it’s not going away. What do I need to do to have a normal life? How do I get over it? I don’t want to be a girl. I’m really successful as a businessman. And I think this is fine in my life. I want to do this. But I couldn’t. It was really hard. I had a child at the time. And I came out to my wife after four years, and I told us without I’m going through something I want you to know. She didn’t have enough information. I didn’t have enough information. All I knew was your angle across yourself or a transsexual. I didn’t identify in either binaries. I would call it binary at the time. It was binary, but I didn’t identify as all these categories. Okay, I couldn’t identify as a crossdresser because it was not about dressing to me at the time. I didn’t identify as a transsexual because I didn’t want to change my sex. And here I was talking to people finding acceptance finding people like me and trying to educate myself and I lived in denial for over Long time, till one day I realized that my life is gonna be like this, I can’t change. So what do I need to do? And the more and more I started talking to people, I had a lot more exposure, meaning different kinds of different ethnicities. You know, I found I had a lot of friends. They call it a cross versus group at the those days. And I met people from different countries. They had the same problem, interestingly, and then I knew I’m not alone. Oh, wow. There are so many people like me, different ethnicities, different backgrounds, there are like me, and it was interesting and I started, I the acceptance was fine. I was moving out from the denial stage. And I was trying to discover myself. But during the time I was discovering, I was finding acceptance in the wrong places, which a lot of people still do. So I used to go to bars and I found acceptance from The people who are actually undermining my existence, and they looked at me as a sex object, they would ask me, you know, can I have sex with you? Or can he would you sleep with me for $20? You know, and it was horrible going through those experiences where I, I thought to myself, I’m such a, I’m a family person. And I have this issue and I’m coming to this bar because it’s a gay bar. And they have a trans night in those gay bar where and that’s the only night I can express myself. I didn’t come here to have sex. I just want to be myself.
Unknown Speaker 16:37 You wanted a place of acceptance and safety. And here you are, you know, a successful business person, a wife and a child at home and you just needed a space where the community would accept you. And what you’re what you’re what I’m hearing is is you were basically reduced to A sex object and a, you know, $20 prostitute in their eyes. Terrific. That is so horrible.
Unknown Speaker 17:12 Yeah, and but unfortunately, that’s what it was. Even after I moved to California, that’s the you could either come on and get harassed in the community or you could go to these places and find acceptance and just live in the dark live in the shadows. And I did not do that. I did not want to be in the shadow. I want to come out as who I am. But I was afraid to come out because I was doing well in my company and I was a partner in my company and I was doing really well. I was worried what the senior management would think if I come on, right, which was really hard for me. And I was abused in a bar by another trans person, interestingly, which I did not expect. And I was so upset. I remember it was early in 2011. I was sitting in my car at two 30 in the morning and crying, and I was thinking to myself, I am such a decent person, all the struggles that I went through in my life since I was four years old. Is it all it is reducing to this bar, all these experiences all this, the difficult times that I went through it all because I want to spend my time in a bar getting abused and discriminated by people. And then that was a wake up call for me. And I went to a Transgender Day of Remembrance in LA I remember and I knew that people like me per person of color could get killed for who you are in this country. And that was a real wake up call for me and I thought to myself, if I can say one life, if I can say one trans person, how would I do it? And where do I start? And that was a good wake up call. And that was a time I started contacting a lot more people I went to LA LGBTQ center. I I spoke to them, I asked them for help. And I was in touch with a lesbian pastor who really helped me a lot. And she said, you know, you can come to our church and be who you are. And you don’t have to worry about people name calling you or labeling you. We just love you the way you are. I found so much of acceptance in communities. And unfortunately, I did not find acceptance within my own transgender community. Because they told me that, yeah, it is kind of bizarre, but they told me that you are not authentic because you’re not a full time trans or you’re not completely happy, you have not had a sex change, and you need to change your sex. If you want to be one of us, if you want to be authentic, that’s what you need to do. And I looked at my life and I thought, you know, I don’t have to change my sex to be who I am. Because if I change my sex, I’ll still do what I’m doing. So why do I need to change my sex and I have medical complications too. I have a family and I, I didn’t hate my being who I am. And I didn’t hate my male persona. And though I wanted to come out as psyllium I always had this Daniel’s as a part of my life, because Daniels is the one who created Celia and see as a part of Daniel and I didn’t want to completely sever the relationship and say, You know what, I’m going to become a woman. And I still love a part of me in me, and that’s why I’m gender fluid.
Unknown Speaker 20:32 And I didn’t want to change myself because I could see where you know that’s that’s the whole you and we are all unique. And we are not only you know the gender fluid, but everyone is on a you know, a spectrum and and several spectrums out once. And so, so, so very interesting. So, so you you You met that pastor who helped give you some advice and create a safe space. And you started going to the LGBTQ center there in Los Angeles. And where did you What did that springboard for you? Where did that take Unix?
Unknown Speaker 21:22 Absolutely. So I started educating myself. I’m a biologist and I have a lot of experience in healthcare. I started thinking about the question why it wasn’t about what I am, or it was about who I’m going to be. And I started discovering that there are people like me in this world, and I need to come out and tell my story. So that really helped me to come out. I had a platform from that church where I could tell my story, and also understand what’s going on with me. I went for conferences. I read a lot of articles journals by medical american medical journals. I started reading about psychology today. And so many articles that really helped me educate myself. And then it all hit me. You know, like, there are people like me who live in this country who live in this world. And since we are a minority, our stories are not being told. And I started thinking about it and said, you know what I am, I think I have something that I wanted to help. So we started from the nature of helping someone like me. And that really helped me to first come up with my story. And don’t have a backlash backlash in my own community. People didn’t like me, because they were saying that this is a man in a dress, who needs medical help? And that was the that was the kind of press I got in my own community. And I was thinking to myself, Oh, my God, I thought people would accept me, you know, they are Christians. No, they did not like me. They were they were so hurtful and some of them Most of them are from the Christian community. I’m a Christian myself. And I do believe in God. I do believe in Bible. But I, the Bible that I know is totally different from the Bible debut. It was very interesting. But anyway, going through all this, it was a big springboard for me to think about it more and more that why do I need to add hair to all these labels and what people are telling me, I need to find my own journey. This is my journey. I have to discover what’s going on with me, my family, and people like me. And that was a springing springboard, I would say, and I started coming out a little bit more and a little bit more and that really helped me to start some support groups within my own county here in in LA. And also I went to a lot of organizations. I heard stories from parents about their children. I heard stories of art. Coming out, I heard some horrific stories about coming out I’m still having problems, especially coming out in the workplace was a big deal for me. I really want to come out and I do, I came out in my community, people knew me as Celia in the community, because I was not just involved with the trans and LGBTQ. I was involved with every issues that touch human lives, like gun violence, health care, immigration policies, civil rights, anything that was relating to civil rights. So I joined organizations that would fight for people like me, not just for me, but also for people who are minorities, black African American, Filipinos, Asian American, the Latino community. So I joined hands with a lot of the civil rights movements and also started working with them. And that’s when I found that they were educating me with what issues they were going through, and I was educating them, but my issues well, and it was interesting because all of us had problems. We were all trying to solve problems. And in the process, we were learning about each other and working together. And that was an amazing ally ship that I saw in the process of coming out. A wonderful springboard, and also not about me, but people who are struggling with health care issues. How do I deal with it? So those are some of the areas that I came out when I started thinking about homelessness, lots of things, right housing issues and even incarceration. If you are arrested by the police, what do you do? Anyway, those are the areas that I came up. And I, you know, I was so glad that I had lots of allies, that I could come out and we could look at each of those problems and help each other.
Unknown Speaker 25:47 Very, very interesting how you take in your own life, and your own situation. And then by necessity and seeing The lack within even the LGBT community. You know, my one of my things is that, you know, when we want diversity and inclusion, we also have to be and model diversity and inclusion in its totality. And it’s very disheartening to hear the issues that you faced within, within just that the LGBT and specifically in the trans community. And what’s so wonderful is that instead of just dwindling away, you proactively saw how to build your community and build your voice and what you stand for and reaching out to other organizations and other people that they don’t have the same issue. As you but there’s similarities and or just just you’re giving heart wanting to try to be there because you, you wanted someone to be there for you. And so now you’re you have been working to be there for others. So that that that is though that that’s amazing. So now when you are working with those organizations do you always present as CEO? Yeah. So does that do all of those organizations know us still yet?
Unknown Speaker 27:33 Just Absolutely. Well, I started coming out as Celia first and people in the community know me as Celia. And when I started coming out as Celia almost five years a lot of the organizations that I work with are like p flag and some of the fluid groups that I it’s called fluid it’s one of the groups that we formed here for gender non binary as well. So in my group, I came out as Daniel’s as well Because I wanted people to see that I am not just, you know, representing my female persona, but also I had other persona that they have not seen. And you know, in fact, they started saying that can you come out as Daniel? Oh my God I know. You know, it’s so funny. So I started, you know, once they knew Celia, I said, you need to meet the other side of me. And I started coming out in my male persona because I said, I’m a two spirited person. You know, end of the day, I’m a human being with two personas and two spirits. And I wanted to amplify an exhibit those two spirits to solve any problem in this world. Sometimes there may be spaces where Daniels can actually be there to help cilia and cilia might be able to be an advocate for Daniel’s. So I also came out in my workplace. So it was interesting, though I worked as Daniel’s and my workplace. When I came out as a gender fluid person. People wanted to see me as a ghost. They said, Hey, we want to see you as a girl, can you come into Saudi tomorrow? And I told him that this is not Halloween, you know? I mean, I told them in a nice way that it doesn’t work when your gender fluid, you’re going through a lot of issues too. And especially being in both personas, it’s kind of that’s the way your mind and your body’s wired to. So you’re dealing with gender dysphoria, and that’s the pros and cons you don’t have pros and cons and the con was I had gender dysphoria. So when I’m Celia I have my the way I talk is different the way I behave my my entire behaviors changing and then I’m Daniel’s it’s completely different and my wife’s changes to the way I drive my car is different. The way I use my toilet is different.
Unknown Speaker 29:45 Even the way you drive your car,
Unknown Speaker 29:48 yeah, it’s so interesting. I didn’t realize that and it was so so funny. And the way our walk is different, because they know I it is so interesting how human nature And human beings are wired to your brain. When you have that feminine gender identity in your brain, your brain automatically starts functioning like a woman. And you know that it seems right and it feels right. And there are times when I wanted to switch off and I wanted to be Daniel because I, you know, there are those like 80% of my life I live a senior and there is a few percentage of my life almost 20% or 10%. I live as Daniel’s. And while I’m Daniel’s, there are areas especially my house by wife was comfortable seeing me as Daniel more, and she’s a cisgender woman and I told her that I will always be your husband. And I told my daughter, I will always be your dad. And I’ve told my brother that I’ll always be your brother. It’s not gonna change. I’m a human being with two genders. But there is a part of me which I thought was shameful, all through my life. And that’s the part of me that I want to have If I, I can live my life as Daniel’s and move on. But I want to amplify the person that I’ve never introduced to the world and that is Celia. So, this is Celia. And these are the problems that I’m facing and I want you to know, and my wife said, sweet, really proud of you. And I cannot get any, any more compliment. Unfortunately, I could have told my parents but both my parents passed away. And I am so happy when I when my family accepted me when my wife accepted me. So there are places in my life where I have been Daniel. But I have started amplifying Celia’s voice more because this is what is the difficult part. Being Daniel’s in my book identity was easy, and this is the tough part.
Unknown Speaker 31:53 Right. And it stayed a part of you that was forced to be suppressed and forced to feel shame. And, you know, kind of like a pendulum swing. When, you know, when you’re forced in this way, you know, a portion of its natural that it goes in equal magnitude in the opposite direction. And for some, for some people that could you know, that pin what I again kind of put the analogy of the pendulum swing. You know, some people can take that into a very unhealthy way of expression through drugs, alcohol, crime, self harm, harm to others and so forth. And so it’s so wonderful to hear how you have been channeling The pain of your past into not only a bright future for yourself, but trying to be there and be a role model and give to the community at large so that others don’t have to go through what you went through. Thank you so much for being part of part of the community and being your full and authentic self in what you do. You know, I, you mentioned that you came out to your employer, but early on, you also said that you have your own consulting business with you don’t have to divulge a whole lot here. But you know, what is your your business as far as what does it focus on? What do you do? So we talked about, you know, what you do for yourself and the community? Could we spend just a few moments and talk about your professional side of life and what Do for your your clients or customers.
Unknown Speaker 34:04 So I’m a management consultant. I have my experience and I would say in healthcare and life sciences, I work with lots of BlueCross and BlueShield. United Health, mostly in the payer side of the industry. And I’m not focusing, I’m not focusing more on the pharmaceutical companies, especially being a strategy consultant. And I do strategy, business strategy. I also work with them in terms of IT strategy, especially when it’s global. And I managed to be in a lot close to 45 million, and that’s the almost that in certain times I had pianos up to 200 million in my companies that I work with. And I’ve worked with a lot of research firms and clinical trials. I’ve also worked with consulting companies, pure play consulting, big fives, and I’ve also done a lot of work, especially globally. I would say having our teams on We’re Europe and India, and Puerto Rico, and lots of other consulting work that I’ve done throughout my career. And I’m so happy with my experience management experience, because it has given me a lot of insights into how things work, and especially even in the nonprofit side of the world. How do you accelerate some of the areas where you can think for as an entrepreneur, add your ability to that part of a side of the business. So in my business, I focus more on management consulting, and I also help these companies, mostly startups, I help them move the needle. And while I’m working with small, large to mid, mid sized mid to large sized companies, I see a lot of difference. And I see that everyone is battling with a similar issues about people process and technology. And when you really look at the people side effect, that’s where my experience from the community really comes at. So I have have I had teams almost close to 600 people reporting to me directly. I had managers or work close to hundred and 20 people reporting to me directly. And I’ve always tried to be a human being with them. And I was a friend with them. I was not just a boss, but I was also been a servant leader. And I learned that concept of that, and I think it comes from my family too, probably, because I have learned to be more patient, you know, they would always love to talk to me, they would just call and say I want to talk to you, I’m going through some problems, and I would just listen to them. So I learned the art of listening. And that’s something which Indians don’t really do well. And that’s something that you know, we always love to talk and I love to talk but I started listening. So I’m a people person that really helped me to accelerate that side of the business to customer relationship was fantastic because I could really relate to the customer. I wouldn’t sell, and I was selling clinical trials. I just wouldn’t sell I would just talk to them about their daily lives and, and then go about and what what is their goals? What are the mission? How do I help you achieve those goals? And then when I looked at processes, what is it currently that’s going well, what is working for you? How do we change it? And then of course, technology is a part where you can, you know, we use all the latest technologies, and I am updated about what’s going on in the cloud environment or digital world, what’s going on in social media? How do we influence patient ecosystem, and I look at it very differently. And I adopted those concepts from a patient ecosystem to a transgender ecosystem, which I gave an idea to the California State. So it is interesting because you can actually take some of your business ideas and apply it to nonprofit side of the world and I put an item about how this can work for a transgender non A gender non gender non binary community. And they were super thrilled. And they took my article and put it in one of the recommendations for the state and also for the federal if needed. So I’m so happy that my business experiences being helpful in both sides. And my community experience has been helpful in my business side as well. So I unknown right now, no, I started looking at
Unknown Speaker 38:28 areas where I can bring a change in a company, you know, looking at, how do we what is the fundamental goal of the CEO? And what are the CEOs dabbling with? How do they look at employee empowerment? How do they build the brand levels? And how do how can we help them and so there is always a productivity, you’re looking at all these opportunities to help the companies grow and move in the right direction. Especially want them to be profitable, you want them to be productive, and you also want them to be strategic and innovative. So when you hire people We’re different and diverse, and especially the trans community, there are a lot of people who don’t want to come out. And when you address that issue, then it’s really helpful. For me, for instance, I wasn’t this vocal when I was Daniel’s. And once I started coming out as sylia, a lot of energy started, you know, there’s so much of positive energy in my life. I don’t have to pretend. And I said, this is what you see is what you get. And I can help your company move your needle forward. And they were actually super thrilled. But unfortunately, I have some sad stories, which I’ll share later. But I think the companies are still dabbling with accepting transfers and at a senior level, but it’s okay if they were willing to hire me at a junior level to kind of brand their companies. And that’s what I sometimes feel a little sad about that I wish companies would really hire me at a senior position. Because if they could hire Daniel at a senior position, then they should be Probably higher senior at the same level. But unfortunately women are fighting for the rights and women are fighting for rights trans folks. It’s really hard. Right?
May 27, 2020 (updated May 27, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
OutBüro – Let’s chat, share, learn, grow, and be inspired together. In each episode, we’ll have casual and informative conversations with interesting LGBTQ professionals. We’ll chat with LGBTQ entrepreneurs about their inspiration, strategy, startup journey, successes balanced with insights from lessons learned. We’ll also talk with leaders in Diversity and Inclusion and community allies across many sectors. Please subscribe to the podcast and join the online community at www.OutBuro.com.
April 28, 2020 (updated April 28, 2020) Published by Craig Derene
We are facing unprecedented times, and the world may not look the same when we come out on the other side. But we will come out on the other side.
True entrepreneurs understand that opportunities are embedded crisis. You may have already been dreaming of business ownership or found yourself in an unanticipated career transition, but now could be the perfect time to make the decision to regain control of your financial future. We’ve already seen a shift in “essential” industries. We are all re-learning the value in sanitation and respect for senior citizens.
Entrepreneurship in the time of COVID-19 doesn’t just mean selling face masks (though we truly appreciate those). If opening a business to help rebuild the country’s spirit and enhance our found-again values aligns with your entrepreneurial dreams, then the right franchise could be your ticket to career freedom.
This crisis will end
Whether it ends in a few weeks or a few months, there will be life after lockdown. You’re taking precautions to make it through the pandemic, so why not take precautions to set yourself up for success after it? The journey to business ownership isn’t a fast one. In fact, the process of researching franchises to being awarded one can take between 8-16 weeks. The decision to embark on this path isn’t a purchase decision, but rather an education and timing decision.
At the end of this road, there will be business casualties. But rather than letting fear of that dead-end keep you from opening your own business, take advantage of it. Lean into the presented opportunities of prime retail space, a motivated workforce, and hungry consumers ready to resume life outside their own 4 walls.
You have support
You’ve received an email from a business or two (or ten) reminding you to support your local businesses. You could own one of those local businesses.
We acknowledge that sounds overly simple and is not intended to discount the hardships encountered over the past month. You’ve seen businesses forced to close. You’ve witnessed friends experience layoffs. You yourself may be a casualty of the economic times. We don’t say this to make light of your personal situation, whatever it may be. We say this to motivate. Humans are resilient and determined and come together most during hardship. As of right now, there are millions of Americans rallying to support each other. To support you.
In addition to the communities rallying to support local businesses, state and federal governments are falling over themselves to pass laws to increase the cash flow for businesses. They have already passed the unprecedented $2 trillion CARES relief act, with more money to follow. Also, the “Impact For Small Business Act“ has secured an additional $50 Billion in SBA funding for the remainder of 2020 alone*. SBA rates are currently extremely low, with additional incentives as well, making it an ideal time to explore funding.
Have Questions? Let’s Chat
Uncover Your Next Step with Franchise Connect Pro
It’s our passion to link professionals to a franchise perfect for them. As a Certified Franchise Consultant, I am passionate about helping everyone, including LGBTQ entrepreneur, find their best business opportunity match.
January 22, 2020 (updated January 23, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
As an LGBTQ entrepreneur with startup business should a competitor analysis to help you launch, remain focused, grow, adapt and own your market.
There are an estimated 1.4 million LGBTQ businesses total in the United States, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. As LGBTQ business owners we can face challenges others do not, Some of these include disclosing their sexuality to their angel and venture capital investors, traditional loan officers, staff, co-workers and customers, landlords perhaps, and being a victim of harassment and discrimination based on who they are. This could be an outright blatant, conscious yet not visible and simple unconscious bias of others.
Why bother? I know what I’m doing.
There are many things a LGBTQ entrepreneur with startup business should have to help them launch, remain focused and grow including a business plan, a clear understanding of your target audience, a clear mission & vision, general marketing, great content marketing in all forms and clear understanding of the direct and indirect competition to become the front runner in the competitive landscape you are trying to grow your business in.
Completing a competitive analysis will help you to better understand your industry market trends, identify your competitors, evaluate opportunities, analyze threats to your business or organization, adjust your go-to-market and positioning strategy accordingly. Looking at our competitors analytically uncovers what works and doesn’t work. It helps you find that golden nugget of how to differentiate yourself in the market. Unknowingly they are essentially being a mentor to you and your startup.
So, let’s get growing your LGBTQ owned business so you can create job opportunities for others and grow your personal financial freedom and hopefully give support to the great LGBTQ non-profits supporting our community.
How Gay is This?
Now is creating such documents uniquely GAY? Of course not. Your sexual orientation does not play a role in the mechanics of creating a business plan or doing competitive analysis. However, the individual(s) who are LGBTQ entrepreneurs can face challenges their heteronomative competitors may not. There is little entrepreneur content out there that is LGBTQ centric – so we are helping to create it and OutBüro is a publishing platform for you to add to the collective knowledge and resources via posting your own articles. It can be leveraged as marketing your knowledge, skills, products, and services targeting predominantly LGBTQ professionals and other entrepreneurs.
Perceived Competitor Maybe Synergy
I’d also like to add that we’d love to think that everyone in the LGBTQ community is open, welcoming and supportive of all other LGBTQ. That sadly is not the case. In business, it is the same. You may have other LGBTQ businesses and even non-profits view your business as a competitor. Maybe you are. Maybe there’s some overlap of products and services yet the majority is different. Unfortunately, even if another LGBTQ owned business or non-profit perceives you are in some way and scope encroaching on what they believe to be their domain – you are their competitor. So you might as well do a competitive analysis on them to better understand their mindset. Maybe you are a competitor. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to partner. After having done your homework, if they accept a call/meeting with you, you would be able to clearly articulate the synergies and joint opportunities and dispell their assumptions and maybe a partnership would improve both companies/organizations.
Your competitors can come in many forms depending on the type of business you have. Maybe you are a dentist opening an office in an underserved community. It’s a potential that a medical non-profit serving that area could view you as a competitor since their funding may be based on numbers served.
Your competitors have likely been operating for a while. They have clients/customers and therefore making money. Those clients/customers to some degree like them, find value in them and respect them. No matter if you are opening a new local ice cream shop, bar, legal office, dentist office, or launching a potential industry disruptive technology, in all cases, you must understand your real and perceived competitors to ensure:
What they’re doing better than you right now so that you can strive to do it better?
What are their marketing strategies and tactics that seem to be working>?
What mistakes in your humble opinion or that’s been publically reported that you can strive to avoid and possibly capitalize on?
Don’t be modest here. What do you believe you are doing better? How are you different? Leverage these in your marketing.
Competitor as a Mentor
Well, most competitors won’t sit down over coffee and share their entrepreneur journey or provide business advice to help you not make the mistakes they have made. But they have achieved, to a level of success, what you strive for serving a similar target audience. Think like that, they’d make the great mentor. You still can learn a lot from what you can observe through completing a competitive analysis.
Even just one insight into how your competitor operates can give you great ideas. But after a full competitive analysis, all the gathered can drive your competitive strategy.
Who are your competitors?
There are two kinds of competitors to consider:
Companies/organizations who have similar products or services – i.e. McDonald’s and Wendy’s
Companies/organizations that have different products or services but who compete for the same dollar – i.e. McDonald’s and Papa John’s Pizza
Consider the example of Hulu. They don’t just compete with other streaming services, they compete with movie theaters, cable TV, YouTube. They are competing for your couch time. So the gym, social events, social media, and gaming could all be considered competition. Focus on your direct competitors first and then expand to consider indirect competitors too.
Questions while completing a competitor analysis
Starting off with the big questions like:
Who are the major players serving this market?
Use internet searches and other resources to locate them for the geographic area you intend to cover
How is the market split up between them?
If there aren’t reports, you might find their revenue reported on their website, or in articles and lastly, you might find the company tax reports.
Next go a little deeper, with more specific questions like:
How does the market think about these competitors?
Check out online reviews. Search for articles online.
What is their target demographic? Do they market to a target age group or income level? If B2B what size and kind of company is their ideal client/customer?
What sort of experience are they offering?
If a physical location, check out their office/store. Interact with employees. How is their customer service?
If they offer professional services such as consulting, check out their employee profiles on sites like LinkedIn. To be a real sleuth, create a temporary account so the competitor employees don’t see that it’s you checking them out.
How does their product or service look and feel? How does it work?
If local, check them out. If online and you’d like to sign up for their email marketing newsletters and maybe have a sales discussion including a product demo then again being a sleuth, use a pseudo name (i.e. John Smith), create a new Gmail email account, get a Google Voice phone number to use.
How are they delivering?
What do they charge? How do customers order? What reviews do they get?
Search, search and then search more.
Along the way keep asking if your business can differentiate itself in some way.
Identify competitor strengths and weaknesses
You’ll begin to see which ones will challenge you most as you learn more about your competitors. They might be in your region, or they might target the exact same market segment as you. List the strengths and weaknesses of these competitors.
Strengths might include things like:
huge brand awareness – they’ve been around forever and people trust them
great distribution – they’re in all kinds of shops, all over the place
really good networks – they’ve built lots of great relationships with buyers
low price point – It may be impossible for you to compete on the price. However, in many markets leading on price can be perceived as low quality.
Weaknesses might include things like:
Reputation – clients/customers don’t get a thrill buying from or interacting with them
Cheap packaging – their product packaging is not aligned with the target audience’s expectations
Lack of depth – the competitor has remained limited in service or scope that you may offer
Bad reviews/perception – clients/customers aren’t have left bad reviews online or you hear industry talk of clients/customers desiring an alternative
Poor client/customer service – consumers don’t feel valued which may tie into bad reviews
Lack of innovation – their product or service offering has not improved or evolved over time
Poor messaging – their online and offline marketing content is dated, stale and lacks excitement.
By understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can figure out what differentiates you – and where you fit in the
When doing a competitor analysis, it’s important to consider your advantages. There may be things about your business that others can’t replicate, like:
Patents or licenses: Are you the only business that can produce a certain product?
Exclusive supply arrangements: You might be the only business in your area that can sell certain products.
Special processes: You might have a way of working that others don’t know about.
Innovation: Maybe your product or service is an industry disruptor.
Costs: Maybe you offer a wider service or better products at a similar cost. Again, don’t just try to be the lowest-priced offering.
Social reach: Maybe you are good at social media and content creation to attract the attention of clients/customers/members.
Customer Happiness: Maybe you provide such a great service/product and in all touchpoints, you and your team excel at customer service creating happy customers/clients.
It’s important to know where you have advantages like these. Leverage them in your online and offline marketing.
Do it again and again
Be sure to schedule at least every 6 months to update your competitor analysis and ask:
Have new competitors popped up?
How difficult would it be for a current competitor or a new company/organization to replicate you product/service and strategy? If easy, what can you do to make it more difficult?
Have current competitors made changes to their business/organization?
Have they improved on their weaknesses?
Have they added new products or services?
Have they updated their marketing?
Have these changes affected your own competitive advantage positively or negatively? If so, adjust to the evolving market in whatever manner is most effective to regain your competitive advantage.
Start your competitor analysis today
You don’t have to have an exhaustive competitor analysis to get started. It can take weeks to complete your first version working it into your business daily and weekly schedule. But, put it on your calendar so you are to be sure to get it done with as many competitors as possible at first, even if that is only 2-5. Fill in what you can find easily and then add to it as you go to learn more. It won’t complete itself and is a vital tool to understand your competitors and ensure your product/service and marketing is on target.