Programming Board Member Darien Marion-Burton

By John Kregler, StartOut

Darien Marion-Burton (He/Him) is a member of our Programming Board from Chicago. He’s the founder and president of D.M. Burton, a hybrid local-social marketing firm focused on helping small businesses and startups scale through effective and efficient marketing strategies. Like everything Darien does, his marketing services keep true to style, and he believes that maintaining a consistent and cohesive brand image is key to building something big.

Anyone who knows Darien knows that he’s the kind of person to light up a room five minutes after walking in, so naturally we reached out. We got to chat with Darien about his experiences, both with StartOut and as a founder/entrepreneur, and here’s what he had to say.

I joined StartOut early last year, a little bit before the start of the pandemic. I attended an event after I launched my business and really felt drawn by the sense of community within the organization. I knew I wanted to give back and StartOut seemed like the perfect place to do so because of their mission to help other LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and because of the welcoming and fun environment. I previously came from a background that wasn’t as community-oriented and I wanted that to change.

In my opinion, starting a business isn’t the hard part. Having the idea and the dream come naturally to most people, but there are a lot of various issues facing marginalized communities that we need to address and solve. I helped plan an event for the Chicago programming board about finding the right advisors for your startup to help with this. We had so many talented people join us for great discussions that had founders leaving with a new sense of support. We were able to provide tangible solutions to real problems facing our founders and I think that’s been my proudest moment to date.

As an entrepreneur, we tend to exist in our own bubbles and it’s so refreshing to meet others and merge those bubbles. It’s so great to connect when we can, especially because most of my days are just me at home alone, behind the computer. I’ve built real, lasting relationships with the other board members by tapping into the community that was already there for me.

I’m really digging this new structure where we can meet with people all across the country and the world. I’m excited to get involved with the StartOut Equity Summit committee as well. Like a lot of other entrepreneurs, I’ve been so drained from a business perspective from the first half of the year, addressing and responding to COVID. I really look forward to the opportunities we have with the programming board to come together, meet new people with different perspectives, and support each other through a tricky time.

Follow Darien on Instagram at @Dare_Mare, and follow D.M. Burton on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @dmburtonstyle!

StartOut’s mission is to increase the number, diversity, and impact of LGBTQ entrepreneurs.