"Mossier" is a name with which enterprising folks with plans for LGBT-related business start-ups should become familiar. This is especially true for those with ideas pertaining to the travel, hospitality, and tourism sector. This year, the Minnesota-based Kevin J. Mossier Foundation bankrolled two exciting new ventures in LGBT entrepeneurship: The ILGTA Foundation and StartOut.
The 29-year-old International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, ILGTA, announced the birth of their non-profit philanthropic foundation with the help of an undisclosed sum of Mossier bucks.
In their press release, the ILGTA describes its goals as four-fold:
- Open a scholarship program for students interested in pursuing LGBT tourism as a career
- Provide assistance to developers promoting upcoming LGBT-interest destinations that do not yet receive financing from their local governments
- Organize conferences to address issues LGBT global travel companies face
- Create outreach programs that deal with human rights issues relevant to LGBT global travel
Another benefactor is a company called StartOut, which received a quarter of a million dollars from Mossier to develop an presence and open regional chapters across the US, focusing in the Midwest. As StartOut Board Chair Lorenzo Thione explains, their company promotes the "success of a growing number of groundbreaking LGBT entrepreneurs" by means of funding and mentoring.
Companies such as Hear it Local, a local music network for several American cities, and Pierson Labs, an analytics firm, got their land legs with support from StartOut. Many who have received assistance from StartOut laud the company's ability to put new investors in touch with more seasoned business veterans who have an innate understanding of the challenges starting a new business presents.
Mossier recently gave $53,000 to a PAC called Freedom to Marry Minnesota, a group fighting to legalize gay marriage in the state, and has supported groups like the ACLU and GLAAD since the late 1990s. As the recent turn to activist entrepreneurship demonstrates, however, not all of the projects that pique the foundation's interest are as curtly political. Like many of the projects currently funded by Mossier, the man's life work merged entrepreneurship and activism. Kevin J. Mossier himself worked in the LGBT travel industry before his death from Hepatitis B in 1996.