Diversity in Tech: Google-backed CODE2040 Announces 3 Selected for First Round of Entrepreneur in Residence Program
A new program is looking to boost diversity in Silicon Valley from the ground up, by giving a select few minority entrepreneurs a whole year of resources to take their startups to the next level.
Now backed by Google, CODE2040 has announced the first three winners of their pilot Entrepreneur in Residence program.
The CODE2040 Residency program selected three pilot cities with promising tech hubs and three Black or Latino entrepreneurs from those areas to jump-start their companies, and communities, as part of the first round of Entrepreneurs in Residence, backed by Google for Entrepreneurs' NextWave campaign.
Meet the First Entrepreneurs in Residence
Joel Rojo from Austin, Texas along with Riana Lynn of Chicago and Talib Graves-Manns of Durham, North Carolina are the inaugural entrepreneurs selected for the program.
Rojo is the co-founder of TicketKarma, a marketplace platform that's designed to make the secondary event ticket market -- especially buying and selling tickets to music events that have sold out at the box office -- simpler, community-based, and thus more trustworthy than what one used to expect from the old, frighteningly-named tradition of "scalping" tickets.
Lynn -- a multi-talented restaurant enthusiast who taught herself to code -- created FoodTrace, an online platform to connect consumers, restaurants, distributors and farms.
Graves-Manns spent over a decade in sales, marketing and digital technology before co-founding RainbowMe, an online platform for educational and entertaining content mean to engage children of color from different backgrounds around the world.
Winners Get Financial Support, Workspace, & Responsibilities
These three will be given a year's stipend, an office for free, mentoring from Google for Entrepreneurs, and a trip to the Googleplex in Mountain View, along with support and networking from CODE2040.
But the new program is not only about supporting three entrepreneurs and their startups. In addition to working on taking their ideas to the next level, the three pilot Entrepreneurs in Residence have other responsibilities to shoulder.
That's because, as Entrepreneurs in Residence in the three selected tech hubs, the first class of CODE2040 is responsible for connecting with the local community and supporting its "entrepreneurial ecosystem" -- fostering the development of local, underrepresented minority talent and ideas throughout their respective communities.
Or, as CODE2040 puts it, the entrepreneurs will "be acting as 'chief diversity officer' for their home tech hub.
CODE2040: The Bigger Mission
If you've been wondering: Yes, there is a reason for the "2040" part of the nonprofit's name. The year 2040 is when statisticians estimate the majority of U.S. citizens will be people of color, and CODE2040 wants to make sure the technology industry that diversity.
But as we've seen from the previous year of workplace diversity disclosures from major Silicon Valley companies like Google, Apple, and so on, the current state of the technology industry is anything but "majority minority."
In fact, Latinos only currently make up single-digit percentages of most tech workforces in the U.S., even though the Latino population and the tech job market are two of the fastest growing forces in the U.S. today, and are expected to continue to be over the next decades.
To close this gap, CODE2040 helps place top performing Black and Latino software students in valuable internships with tech companies, providing training, mentorship, and networking at the same time, through its Fellows program. That initiative, which has run for a couple of years, has grown from five students initially to 25 last summer, and 90 percent of 2013's class received offers from the companies they interned at by the end of their summer fellowships.
Now CODE2040's new Entrepreneurship in Residence program is seeking to strengthen diversity even earlier in the process, by supporting leaders in communities to support local budding talent and generate more interest, and eventual success, in technology education and careers. That's a lot of responsibility for these first three "Chief Diversity Officers" for their communities, so best of luck!
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