All Articles Tagged "minorities in tech"
Women in the tech industry are few and far between. Although more women than ever are entering the work world, only 25 percent of them find their way to Silicon Valley. Of that 25 percent, African American women make up a mere 1.5 percent. This is the problem that startup accelerator NewME is striving to fix and Mashable.com reports that the San-Francisco program based is working.
Tech extraordinaire Angela Benton, who is also a black woman, knows first-hand how tough it is to break into the tech scene and observed the few African Americans she met along the way. While Benton believes that the education system’s lack of exposure to tech careers to minorities puts them at an initial disadvantage, there are other factors that contribute to small minority and women numbers in the tech field.
“We have to factor in other things, like access to mentors and role models, and even very simple things, like explaining to individuals how to even start to enter the field is huge,” she told Mashable.
Her startup accelerator is a 12-week program that helps to support and nurture the big ideas of aspiring minority tech entrepreneurs. NewMe provides mentorship, discussion and networking opportunities. At the end of each program is a “demo day,” which allows participants the chance to present their ideas and products to well-connected attendees. The accelerator has two programs each year, with an average of about eight participants each session spending the entire spring or fall living and working in San Francisco while they get their ideas started.
“NewME participants’ stories about their experiences in the tech industry are so varied,” Benton said. “I get to talk to the founders that we have in the accelerator, and I get to hear what people have experienced nationally, via the nearly 1,000 people we have in NewME community.”
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There’s no argument that there are a lack of minority entrepreneurs that are engaging in the “startup culture” Even if the above argument can be debated, you can’t deny the fact that while there may be a number of successful minority entrepreneurs that are engaging in the “startup culture”, you may never know it due to the lack of funding and/or publicity they receive from the mainstream startup community.
Angela Benton, Wayne Sutton, and Toby Morning have teamed up to tackle both issues (opportunity and visibility) for minority startups with their joint venture, the NewMe Accelerator program: A nine-week “startup camp” that gives participants assistance with ideas and development, access to leaders and possible mentors, and exposure to the Silicon Valley startup culture.
Over the previous several weeks, NewMe put out a request for minority startups to submit their ideas (regardless of whether or not it was just an idea, in development, or an actual product). As a result, 12 startups were selected and the invitation was extended to spend nine weeks in Silicon Valley (lodging, local transportation, and other accommodations provided by the program) to attend small workshops and sessions, and to network with leaders in the technology startup industry.
In addition to gaining insight into the industry and “rubbing elbows”, the participants are encouraged to fine-tune their ideas/products and find-tune their “pitch” as they move towards “Demo Day” – an opportunity to present their startup in front of an even larger group of technology companies, venture capitalists, and influential members in the tech industry. A very possible outcome could be that one or several of these startups may raise enough eyebrows to receive additional mentoring, or even funding from some of the guests and sponsors invited by NewMe to witness the drive, ingenuity, and talent that minority entrepreneurs have to offer the startup community.
Speaking of which, the clout that the three founders have in their own professions have enabled them to round up a nice list of guests that will support, and cheer on, and possibly sponsor and fund the participants. Some of the leaders, speakers, guests, and sponsors include: Google, Justin.tv, Kapor Capital, Tristan Walker, Business Development lead at Foursquare, MC Hammer (yeah, you heard me correctly), and other venture capitalist looking to invest in the future. Several media outlets will also be in attendance to cover NewMe in hopes to further shine the light on minority talent looking to turn their ideals into a viable, and profitable product.
For more information and updates, visit the NewMe Accelerator website or follow the Twitter handle @NewMeAccel.