The Breaking Into Startups Podcast is a platform where we feature stories of people who broke into tech from non-traditional backgrounds. Curious about how startups work, how to get a job without a degree or what technical and non-technical careers are out there? We have news for you - tech fields are booming and you don’t need the best technical degree in information technology to break in and get a six figure job in technology. Our podcast gives you an inside look at the most disruptive startups by sharing success stories of people from all walks of life, including college drop outs, professional and student athletes, army veterans, teen parents, corporate folks, investment bankers, consultants, venture capitalists who acquired new skills and found jobs in technology. Our guests attended coding bootcamps and immersive programs like Hack Reactor, App Academy, General Assembly, Dev Bootcamp, Flatiron School, Iron Yard, Tradecraft and more. After graduating they found well paying jobs in big time startups focusing on education, medicine, financial services, healthcare, AI, machine learning, automation, sharing economy and more. If you listen to 500 Startups, Learn to Code With Me, Twenty Minute VC, This Week In Startups, Startup Radio, Startup Podcast, The Tim Ferris show, Startup School Radio, Course Report or other tech stuff news, then this podcast is for you my friend.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kesha Lake is a member of the Career Karma community from Atlanta.
She joined Career Karma in the beginning of 2019. Less than a year later, she got a job as a remote software engineer at Stitch Fix.
Today, she talks about her life as a mother, her transition from nursing to tech, her bootcamp journey, and her job search experience.
Jerrick Warren has an inspiring story of breaking into the Blockchain Tech Startup Gemini coming from a background in medicine.
He went from joining the Career Karma community, to getting accepted into Lambda School to getting a Software Engineering job in a year!
Today, he shares with us the many struggles he had to overcome and how Career Karma helped him pave his way to success.
Career Karma is a community that helps you figure out a road map that is customized to you, your preferences, and your needs. Lambda School is a coding bootcamp that offers a unique pay structure to its students. Find out more about them.
Darrell Silver is the CEO and Co-Founder of Thinkful.
Their mission? To build the world’s next workforce.
Since its inception in 2012, Thinkful has graduated thousands of students. Founded based on two elements – transparency and return on education – Thinkful has recently been acquired by Chegg.
Together, they continue to help transform how people acquire tech skills in the most efficient way possible.
On this episode Darrell covers how Thinkful help career transitioners acquire tech skills through income sharing agreements and living stipends. Tune in to learn more.
Coming to the states with two suitcases and a pocketful of dreams, Chock Ooi is currently the CEO of Kenzie Academy.
Chok is a startup veteran working at places like Loopt and AgilityIO, and is a 500 Startups mentor. He has a background in Finance and Technology at Goldman, Bank of America, and BNP Paribas during the financial crisis.
Today, Chok talks about how he has realized his dreams to help people break into tech and his thoughts on income share agreements (ISAs).
Career Karma now has over 30,000 members. Please come check it out and learn more about income share agreements where we've put together a comprehensive report highlighting emerging players, innovators, and potential influencers.
Today, we have a special group of people joining us who go by the #FFTSquad.
#FFTSquad is a group of people on Career Karma who are working together to help each other grow, learn how to code and switch careers into tech.
They were with us early from the very beginning. In fact, a lot of the members of the FFT Squad were part of Career Karma before the app even came out.
Here are their names:
Meet the FFT Squad:
Melanie Harris (Ms. CEO, Lady Savage)
Jennifer Weaver (J-Smooth)
Elisabeth Earley (Lady Boom)
Benjamin Earley (Benny Boom)
Tyrone Smith (Fly Ty)
Elise Spain (Famous Amos)
Levar Morris (The Wizard)
Jennifer Carney (J-Chill)
Gregory Jordan (Papa Smurf)
Kesha Lake (Rose Code)
For those of you who may not know, Career Karma was started by Artur, Ruben & Timur as a result of us breaking into tech and launching the Breaking Into Startups Podcast together.
Today, Career Karma is a community that matches people to the best coding bootcamps and gives them support for the rest of their careers.
The FFT Squad is a living testament that developing your technical skills can totally change your life. No matter who you are, what color you are, what race you are, or what religion you are – you DEFINITELY can do this!
Angela Ceresnie is the CEO of Climb Credit. She has experience working in and starting multiple startups. She has led teams at Citibank and American Express. Interestingly, she studied computer engineering at the University of Michigan with a technical background.
Today, Angela talks about skill-building and the work she's doing at Climb Credit as she tries to build the future for her own kids.
Phaedra Ellis is the CEO of Promise, a startup that uses technology for good in the process to change the criminal justice system.
Prior to this, she was the leader of the South Bay Labor Council, managing over 110,000 members.
Before that, Phaedra was also the CEO of Green for All and is known as a music industry icon for having helped Prince get his master's back as his manager, without having any legal background.
What’s interesting is Ruben met Phaedra when he worked with her at Honor. She became his mentor and also was responsible for hiring former podcast guests Rita Henderson and Natasha Vianna.
Tonio DeSorrento is a New York-native who spent time in the Marines as a captain. He has also worked at several institutions including SoFi.
Currently, he serves as the CEO of Vemo Education, a leading provider of income share agreements, which is an innovative financing model not only for coding bootcamps, but also for traditional universities. They are working now with 22 colleges and universities!
If you're someone looking to manage your finances as you're preparing for a career transition, this episode is a must-listen!
Rodney Sampson is the CEO of OHUB while Young Guru is widely known as Jay-Z's DJ. On today’s episode, Ruben joins Rodney & Young Guru to discuss how and why they came together and why they're passionate about creating opportunities for people outside of tech. OHUB has also partnered with Flatiron School, to give $1M in scholarships to people with color who wish to pursue a career in tech through coding bootcamps.
Ameer Brown is a Software Quality Engineer at Adobe. He talks about what it takes to be a successful engineer at Adobe. Outside of work Ameer also organizes parties. He also covers how that helped him take it to another level hosting parties in multiple cities.
From being a journalism major, he suddenly left his job, flew to LA, and applied to General Assembly. Through the bootcamp’s Opportunity Fund, Ameer’s coding education was fully funded by Adobe until ultimately getting hired (and he didn’t even apply for it!)
Dan Rosensweig is the CEO of Chegg, an American education company with the aim to provide education that is less expensive, more available, more affordable, and more relevant. On the podcast, Dan explains how it's their responsibility to learn from, listen to, and build for young people.
He was formerly the COO of Yahoo! and CEO of Guitar Hero. He's also on the board of several amazing companies.
Dan admits Chegg was considered a failure for most of its first 7 years. 8 1/2 years later, they're a $3.5 billion Education Technology company and is considered a leader in their space.
Cameron Yarbrough is the CEO of Torch and one of the best leadership and executive coaches in the world.
In this episode, Cameron talks about coaching for everyone! How Torch got its start and the problems that many CEO’s as well as startup employees have when they are faced with pressure.
Dan Sommer is the CEO and Co-Founder of Trilogy Education Services. Dan has launched partnerships with over 37 of the world's leading universities, providing alternative forms of education on their campuses.
They have instructors teaching 200 classes every week. They have thousands of students who have completed Trilogy-powered programs, and 1,500 companies employ them.
In May, Dan secured a $50-million Series B and he's been doing a lot of exciting things related to future work. Prior to Trilogy, he was the President of Zeta Global, also a large education company.
Interesting takeaways from this episode: learning how to learn, developing your superpowers, and being aware of not just engineering jobs but specific technologies companies are hiring for in different geographies!
Announcements: Watch the video recording of this episode on Youtube
Rich Smith is a Senior UI engineer at Netflix but did you know this was his 17th job?
Today, he talks about how he started hustling as early as 4th grader and eventually discovered his interest in coding!
On the episode he covers a lot of topics as what it was like growing up with role models who were athletes, which a lot of us could relate with. And how not until he dropped out of college that Rich stumbled upon coding and later realized that this could be a viable career path!
Rich’s journey to become a Senior Engineer at Netflix was certainly not an easy feat, but he lays out the roadmap on this episode that anyone can follow to attain the same results.
Hint: it doesn’t involve a computer science degree :)
Balaji Srinivasan is the CTO of Coinbase. Prior to that, he was a co-founder of Counsyl, Earn, Teleport, and a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz.
Today, he talks about his insights into traditional education vs. alternative education, as well as numerous concepts on technical debt, voice vs. exit, idea maze, idea vs. education, and more!
Balaji has a very interesting mindset in that he believes that not everybody can be a founder, but everybody can be an investor.
Rick O’Donnell is the Founder and CEO of Skills Fund, a place that provides people with an opportunity to acquire skills and they also provide financing for students as they're doing a career transition.
Prior to Skills Fund, Rick worked as an Executive Director for the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies as well as the Director for the Department of Higher Education where he oversaw 29 public colleges and universities in Colorado. Since its founding in 2015, Skills Fund has provided over $100 million in students loans.
Today, Rick talks about how you should be thinking about your career transition and how you can afford it as well.
There are half a million open tech jobs, and yet, diversity in tech continues to be a problem. The key is in building relationships and connecting people with the right companies that need their skills the most.
Leanne Pittsford is the founder of Lesbians Who Tech, the largest LGBTQ community of technologists in the world with over 40,000 members.
She is also the founder of Tech Jobs Tour, connecting diverse, underrepresented, and nontraditional talent with companies across the country. Among other companies she has created are include.io, and Lean Impact.
Fun fact about Leanne is when she’s not helping people find jobs she really loves to surf.
Our guest on the podcast has a remarkable story.
Madelyn Tavarez did a part-time bootcamp, while holding a full-time job.
She taught herself how to code.
And became a software engineer at Pinterest now building products for hundreds of millions of people.
She is also a Dominican Republic-native who grew up in Washington Heights and due to her own drive and curiosity was able to change her circumstance.
Her senior year of college she went from being a bartender to an “eat, pray, love” moment which took her to Italy. Which eventually played a big role in Madelyn deciding to teach herself how to code.
Fast-forward to today, she works as an Android engineer at Pinterest. She also continues to get actively involved in different community projects, including the TECHNOLOchicas among others.
Austen Allred is the CEO and Co-Founder of Lambda School. Recently coming out of Y Combinator, Lambda now has thousands of students. Prior to this, he served as a Growth Expert at LendUp.
Lambda School is an online bootcamp that gives students the tools and training they need to launch their career in software engineering at no upfront cost. Their end goal is to eliminate all the distractions related to income, living expenses & time so students can focus on transitioning into their dream careers.
They also don’t get paid, unless you get a job!
Avi Flombaum is a lifelong educator. He is the Co-Founder of Flatiron School, which grew to thousands of students and got acquired by WeWork.
Prior to starting Flatiron School, Avi also built several companies.
Avi’s philosophy believes that education should mold and flex to the needs of the student.
On this episode, he shares his insights about their different programs and how they’re making education more accessible to people without having to carry that huge financial burden themselves.
Moving from Atlanta to the Bay Area, from being a writer, artist, to mathematician, David Harris completed App Academy and became a software engineer. By combining hard work and the power of networking, David ultimately landed a full-time job at Omada Health.
In this episode, David talks about his struggles and how he hustled his way to success. He’s also dishing out a ton of resources you can use whether you’re preparing for a bootcamp or prepping for an interview.
David is the brother of Ruben Harris. He also shares how Ruben, Timur, and Artur have helped him throughout out this entire journey, along with some other amazing people in the industry that he met along the way.
In 2017, Iris Nevins decided to leave her work as a teacher in Florida to attend a bootcamp in the Bay Area - but it was not without its own struggles. Iris believes that when you’re on your path, no matter the road blocks, serendipitous things will happen.
In 2018, Iris landed a job as a software engineer at MailChimp, an Atlanta-based marketing automation platform (although Iris works remotely in Oakland). Quick trivia: MailChimp sends out a whopping billion emails per day!
Iris is also the founder of Organeyez, an organization that provides relevant tools and content to groups and organizations that work towards fostering social justice.
Galvanize and Hack Reactor have now merged to become bigger and better in the bootcamp space. With the merger, Shawn who is the Cofounder of Hack Reactor and a returning guest on the Podcast, is now serving as SVP of Strategy and Innovation.
Galvanize has eight campuses across the U.S. including San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Austin, Denver (2), Boulder, and New York City. They're primarily engaged in immersive education, enterprise work, and co-working.
Hack Reactor is one of the largest coding bootcamp that focuses on web development and is now expanding their offering to corporate clients. In their effort to create lifelong learning programs for alums and work transformatively with companies trying to set up, they decided to join a bigger company in order to realize this.
As the industry is going through consolidation, together Galvanize & Hack Reactor will be offering software engineering and data science across eight campuses and become the largest bootcamp.
Ryan Carson is the Founder and CEO of Treehouse. He grew up in Colorado and is currently in Portland. Today, he talks about the future of education, work, and more!
Treehouse is an online school that teaches adults how to code and build apps so they gain a super power. Running for 8 years now, they've taught over 850,000 people how to code, with currently 80,000 enrolled students.
Their mission is simple: to change lives through rebooting the talent pipeline in America and the world!
Today, we have two amazing people behind the widely successful early stage venture capital firm, Initialized. Today, they discuss the power of coaching, the cryptocurrency space, building teams and community, and some tech trends to watch out for.
Dubbed as "Mayor of the Internet," Alexis Ohanian is the Co-Founder of Reddit, Breadpig. He was a former partner at Y Combinator before co-founding Initialized.
Garry Tan is also a Co-Founder of Initialized, Posterous.com, and Posthaven.com. Also a former partner at Y Combinator, where he advised over 700 companies. In addition to that, he is the first seed investor at Instacart and Coinbase which will discuss in greater detail on the episode.
It all started when Jacob Hsu immigrated from Taiwan at an early age! Fast forward to now, Jacob spends his time between San Mateo and Baltimore while he’s building and managing his team as the CEO of Catalyte.
An ex-banker, Jacob went on to create two startups, one of which is Symbio, a product development and R&D outsourcing services company. In just less than 11 years, the company has grown from $10 million to over $600 million in revenue. In 2016, Symbio got acquired for over a billion dollars.
Catalyte has a very unique business model, specifically using AI to find exceptional people from different backgrounds and helping them become great software engineers. Based in Baltimore, the company is now looking to expand to other cities where they can bring massive impact to local people within the community.
Today, Jacob talks about the different key elements Catalyte is built upon and why now is the time to kill the resume!
A melting pot of different cultures, Miami is now seeing a dramatic shift in its career ecosystem geared towards technology and startups. But a little more work is needed for the educational landscape to align with the rapidly growing tech space.
Raul Moas is currently the Miami Program Director for the Knight Foundation, a national foundation with strong local roots, specifically focused on entrepreneurship. Formerly, he was the Managing Director for Miami Angels, a local angel group with more than a hundred investors putting seed stage capital behind tech and tech-enabled companies from Florida. He previously served as an executive director for Roots of Hope.
In today’s episode, Raul talks about the current trends in Miami from both educational and labor perspectives and what they can do to help bridge the gap.
Miami-native Saif Ishoof is the VP of Engagement at Florida International University and a leader in the Future of Work. He started up a nonprofit called City Year Miami and has run family business prior to it. He got his JD from the University of Miami.
We wanted to highlight the importance of radio, part of the reason this podcast got started. Undoubtedly, radio is still the strongest way to reach people in the community you want to reach.
Alice McLaughlin also joins in as she throws out some interesting questions. Alice is the host of Ask Alice, a radio show on Key Biscayne Radio 94.5 FM in Key Biscayne, Florida. It's also known as Blink Radio, where they feature business, technology, and lifestyle.
The show is going to be on live simulcast multi platforms so they're able to reach above and beyond their local footprint.
Marlon Nichols is the Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Cross Culture Ventures, along with co-founder Troy Carter.
Marlon previously served as a Partner at Intel Capital. He has worked with several startups, invested in companies like Mayvenn, Gimlet Media, Blavity, Airspace Technologies, Codeverse, and many others.
Marlon is huge on CULTURE when it comes to uncovering hidden opportunities. Today, he talks about the power of culture and diversity, the value of mentorship, and how to assemble a winning team.
From economic development to a career in tech, Laurence Bradford is a software engineer and she’s now working as a product manager at EdTech startup Teachable, which is an online course platform.
Aside from being a contributor at Forbes, she also runs a podcast called, Learn to Code With Me, which now has over a million downloads. She runs a blog with over 40,000 subscribers and she has a community of over 14,000 people on Facebook where she's helping them learn how to code.
Laurence has traveled to over 30 countries, is an avid writer, and is very passionate to help others break into tech.
Daniel Barragan was the first sales rep at Zoom that was able to rise all the way up to the top of the ranks on the Enterprise team. He helped the company grow to over 700,000 accounts in six years, reach a billion dollar valuation, get into 90% of the top universities, and expand into different verticals.
What started out as just being a beta product with only one customer supporting 25 people, Zoom now supports hundreds to thousands people on a single call serving a wide range of customers ranging from small and medium-sized businesses to enterprises.
A lot of times in startups, roles are not defined. And although we wear many hats, sometimes it never gets solidified.
Today, Evan talks about his humble beginnings. Born in Alaska, he sold his cream puff and shaved ice business that he put up in high school. He then studied Philosophy and Business in Seattle, until finally moving to SF to hustle his way through, living in a hostel while looking for a job.
Evan is employee #1 at Checkr, a startup that offers background check and screening solutions, which has grown from a two-person company to persently a hundred-person high-growth organization where he now leads their customer success team.
After the recording of the podcast, Erika joined the Impact Team at Amazon Cloud Services. Prior to that, at the time of the episode recording, Erika was the Head of Strategic Initiatives at Twilio.org. Before that, she also worked for TaskRabbit. Erika has not only in tech for a long time, she served on several boards and she also has deep experience in the nonprofit industry.
Under the Impact Fund at Twilio, they've given away about a $1.5 million in investments and grants where they take a platform and portfolio approach. Her vision? To have a platform in Twilio where nonprofits have a one-stop shop for technical help.
Erika is about to launch The Only, it's a storytelling project and podcast that documents the stories of women who were The Only in all male or mostly male environments.
Do you know someone who's been an "only" woman or if you've been an "only" woman yourself in your company or organization, submit a nomination form and Erika will reach out to you. This covers people in practically all types of industries.
Aline Lerner is the CEO and Co-Founder of interviewing.io, a platform for engineers that practice technical interviews and land jobs at the top tech companies.
Millions of people have read her writing and thousands of engineers sign to work with her platform each month. You can easily check her out in TechCrunch, Bloomberg, and other publications.
From being a chef to breaking into startups, Aline is now the founder of one of the largest platforms in the game focused on getting people to tech companies.
In May 2015, the Congressional Black Caucus launched CBC TECH 2020 to bring together the best minds in the tech, non-profit, education and public sectors to chart a path forward to increase African American inclusion at all levels of the technology industry.
Since the launch of CBC TECH 2020 in May of 2015, the following companies have added African Americans to their board of directors:
AirBNB – (Kenneth I. Chenault
Former Chairman & CEO, American Express),
Apple, Inc. (James A. Bell, Former Executive Vice President & CFO of Boeing Co),
Facebook, Inc. – (Kenneth I. Chenault, Former Chairman and CEO, American Express),
HP Enterprise – (Leslie A. Brun
CEO, Sarr Group, LLC),
HP Enterprise – (Pamela Carter, Former President of Cummins Distribution),
HP, Inc. – (Stacey Mobley, Former Senior Vice President, DuPont),
HP, Inc. – (Stacy Brown- Philpot, CEO, TaskRabbit),
Twitter – (Debra Lee, Chairwoman & CEO, BET Networks),
Uber – (Ursula Burns, Former Chairwoman & CEO, Xerox, Corp),
eBay – (Adriane Brown, Advisor with Intellectual Ventures, LLC)
Michael Ellison is currently the Chief Operating Officer of CodePath where he leads product, operations, and business development.
CodePath is an education technology startup that has a reputation for excellence in training engineers with the skills that they need for cutting-edge tech jobs.
Running for four years now, CodePath has worked with over 850 of the top tech companies. Not to mention, they're the most popular Android resource on the Internet with over 20,000 startups and over 500,000 developers using their resource every month. They've also helped redesigned onboarding programs for companies like Facebook and Airbnb, of which 25% of their engineers have been taught by their program.
Recently, they launched CodePath.org that is powering under-searched schools with coding curriculum. Presently, they've worked with over 30 schools and 1,200 students.
Joe Musselman was spending his time in the military working with Navy SEALs and upon finishing his service, he started The Honor Foundation to help special operation forces who have left service to transition and find jobs in tech.
Joe has supported over thousands of people with over 200 employee partners who have raised funding from people all over Silicon Valley including Marc Andreessen, and other organizations. Part of their vision is to grow their special operations community to 65,000 by 2020.
Here are some surprising stats:
-In 2013, only 13% of Navy Seals had jobs when they finished service and their average salary after leaving the service was $87,000.
-In 2017, graduates that go through The Honor Foundation received a 97% placement rate with a salary of $130,000-$140,000+.
John Maeda is the Global Head of Computational Design and Inclusion at Automattic. Previously, he was a Partner at Kleiner Perkins where he founded the design and tech report that's read by people all over the world.
Fascinated with the idea of remote working, John is an inspiration in the design world currently serving on the boards of Sonos and Wieden+Kennedy. He recently created a site called Design From Anywhere, that tells you more about remote work, inclusion, and how you can get into these positions and basically do it from anywhere.
Being in a educational field for a long time, John noticed the art education in the U.S. was decreasing and most educational programs were becoming geared towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). So he had been advocating in Washington, D.C. to add Art through STEM and transform it into STEAM, which has become a legislation in 2013 to bring back Art into schools.
If you're a mom or you know some moms who want to know what it takes to break back into tech after you've been out of work for several years, this is a must-listen episode.
Today's guest is Wendy Padua who has been out of work for 16 years and is not part of the marketing team at Zendesk.
We also have Tami Forman on the show today. She's the Director of Path Forward, a nonprofit organization that creates mid-career returnship programs to ease the transition back to work for women and men after taking a break for raising children or other caregiving responsibilities.
Wendi and Tami share their beautiful experiences with regard to motherhood, the struggles with putting yourself out there as you try to return to the workforce, and how to ultimately set yourself up for success!
Melissa has been teaching negotiation tactics for the last 22 years.
Today, Melissa Hereford is going to teach us how to negotiate, not only in terms of salary, but life in general - deadlines, relationships, friendships, etc. She's going to give you actionable strategies you can use to negotiate a higher salary with your manager.
Previously, Melissa worked for BayGroup International, the biggest negotiations consulting company in the world. She's worked with huge clients like Cisco, At&T, Oracle, GE, and several pharmaceutical companies.
Stop selling yourself short! You’ve got to ask for more. But the biggest question is how. Negotiation can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. You just have to know how you can prepare for it!
Jason is widely known as a global brand director for the Jordan Brand at Nike, where he led and contributed to the creation of several shoes for athletes and cultural icons including Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Derek Jeter, and Michael Jordan.
Following his 13+-year stint at Nike, he started several things in tech at Accel and as an advisor for Stanford’s Design School. He then co-founded a startup with Stephen Curry and eventually creating his very own startup called Super Heroic, a tech-enabled system of play for kids starting with shoes that help them discover that they're actually superheroes.
Contrary to what many people think that San Francisco is Silicon Valley, but it's not. In fact, it's not a place. Jason is therefore doing a lot to make sure they're able to leverage this platform to do a ton of educational work in places such as StreetCode Academy and collaborate with other teams like Black Jedi ZULU, and so much more.
Jason is the founder of Trillicon Valley, a community of entrepreneurs, athletes, designers, and creatives.
Ana Díaz-Hernández is the Head of Sales at interviewing.io, a platform for engineers that set technical interviews and land jobs at top tech companies. Sacramento-born, Ana talks about how she leveraged online communities to get into Stanford, break into startups, how she went through an acquisition process, hustled her way into venture capital at Kapor Capital. In addition to that, she also led business development and online education platforms like Udacity.
She founded the Women of Color in Tech - Bay Area. She is a member of the Diversity Advisory Council for Code.org. She is in the Board of Directors for Chicana Latina Foundation.
Prior to her current role as a rockstar product designer at Headspace, Vicki Tan holds an impressive portfolio having worked previously at Lyft and interned at Google. She has worked in the HR and also used to be a research intern and research coordinator at Stanford University School of Medicine, doing studies in Pediatric Oncology. Find out more about Vicki’s transition from the academic realm to the tech space, along with some nuggets of wisdom along the way.
Gary Vaynerchuk does not need an introduction. For those of you who haven’t heard of him yet, he is not only a rockstar entrepreneur, he's an author and a speaker. He's a four-time New York Times bestseller. He now runs a 800-person media agency, VaynerMedia. He is also an early investor in Twitter, Snapchat, and Uber.
Big on giving back and making people happy, the one legacy he wants to leave is that he has given more than what he has taken.
A San Jose-native, Heather Swan is the Chief Happiness Officer at Zoom, a video conferencing tool that works on any device. She started as an employee #15 and now Zoom has grown to over 700,000 clients worldwide, she has worked in every sales role within the company and has consistently hit her quotas.
Heather has previous experience in the retail sales space, particularly for Tory Burch shoes and medical devices. Today, she shares the perspective of founding a startup from an employee perspective and some qualities a great salesperson must have.
Southern Californian-native, Ian Harriman is a rockstar salesperson. He started as a sales development representative until he rose up to the ranks of being a mid-market account executive at Checkr, a background check community that utilizes software (instead of people) to complete a majority of the parts to the process.
Ian also talks about his leadership role in the Bounce Back to Work Program at Checkr, where they help both applicants and companies through their background screening process.
We talk about how most companies fail, his experience at a failing company, and how he actually bounced back to where he is now.
Today, we take a closer dive into getting internships and how you can leverage those to get full-time offers.
Kyle Woumn is a fullstack engineer on the messaging experience team at Twilio, a cloud-communication platform that integrates communication into apps. A Georgia Institute of Technology graduate, Kyle did internships at GE and Twilio.
He's also part of the National Society of Black Engineers and he is currently building an app that fosters an online community for Black Greeks.
Born in Germany, Marco Morawec is the co-founder of The Firehose Project, an online coding school that helped over a thousand people learn how to code remotely and become engineers. They also got a 1-million dollar grant from TechHire to help more people from under-represented groups to gain tech skills.
Marco got his undergraduate degree and Master's in Public Policy and Management from the University of Constanz in Germany. He formerly worked as a Product Manager at an advertising firm called Jana.
A self-taught software engineer who is big on networking, Marco believes people should not be coding in isolation. Listen in as he talks more about their programs and how people can learn how to code no matter who you are, or where you are.
Jon Deng is a mentor who has helped several people break into tech. He is widely known as a software engineer at Snap Inc. Prior to tech, he was actually a platoon leader in the U.S. Army with 40 men reporting to him. He was a captain and a field artillery officer.
In this episode, Jon walks us through his transition from the military into tech, his thought process, and how he essentially prepared himself for the coding bootcamp at Hack Reactor. He also talks about how he got through his job search as a veteran with zero work experience in coding as well as some resources available out there for veterans who might be interested in jumping into the tech.
Dan Burrill is not just the inside sales boss at Twilio but he's also a seasoned executive having spent time with other amazing companies including Box and Honeywell.
A man who’s big on commitment and the power of listening, Dan admits coming to Twilio for one big reason - market opportunity.
Twilio operates in the telecommunications industry that has been around for decades and it's fast-forwarding the space into the future. No wonder it’s his favorite among all the companies he’s worked at.
Adam is a co-founder of MissionU where he is building a school for the 21st century. He is also a founder of Pencils of Promise that has built over 400 schools around the world and provided over 70k kids with an opportunity to learn!
At MissionU, Adam is building a school for the 21st century!
Millions of people are either themselves effected by college debt or know someone in their family who is effected by it.
College loans are also the only kind of debt you cannot default on.
To fix that, Adam and his team want to give you a world class education, debt free.
When he first started, Adam went on a listening tour. He spoke to over 200 people, including students, educators and CEOs of publicly traded education companies to figure out how to solve the problem.
As the result, MissionU partnered with companies like Spotify, Uber, Lyft, Warby Parker and many others to understand which base, skill-sets, a student must have in order for these companies to hire them.
Afterwards, Adam and his team went back to the drawing board and designed a program where they will teach you the needed skills for a year, completely free and you’ll pay them a percentage of your salary once you get a job and you're making over fifty thousand dollars.
Their program is a year long, it’s full time and because they realize that not everyone can afford to not work for a year, the program is meant to accommodate a 20-hour a week part time job as well.
Nick Caldwell is the VP of Engineering at Reddit and has been in the game for over fifteen years. He has worked for impressive institutions including Microsoft and NASA. He is also heavily involved in the community, having worked as a facilitator for organizations like /dev/color.
If you haven’t heard, Reddit is the fourth most traffic website in the United States, and seventh in the world. With about 320 million monthly active users, Reddit is home to several communities with 1.1 million active communities on their platform.
Bangaly Kaba shares his story on how he broke into product management from a non-traditional backgrounds in Education and Finance. Originally from the East Coast, Bangaly is now considered as one of the best PMs in the Bay Area. He previously worked at Facebook's growth team until landing his current product management role at Instagram.
You probably first heard of Bangaly's name back on Episode 13 when Elaina Koros mentioned his name on the show referring to him as a great mentor.
From working in Switzerland, to starting a men's fashion business, working at Facebook and finally handling product management at Instagram, Bangaly sure has crafted his own success story.
Rocio Lopez came to the U.S. as an undocumented minor and lived on the East Side of Palo Alto.
For years, she and her family have gone through so much struggle until the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA was signed by President Obama, a program granting temporary work permits to immigrants who came to the U.S. as children illegally.
Recently, DACA, has been repealed by the Trump administration. And Rocio is one of the 800,000 DREAMers that are going to be affected by this decision.
The average DACA recipient is 26 years old who came to the U.S. at 6 years. 91% are employed, and 100% have no criminal record. They pay $500 to renew every two years and contribute $800 M per year to the government.
Rocio is a Product Designer and an amazing speaker. She considers herself an American who is willing to die for her country. But why is America trying to persecute her along with other hundreds of thousands of DREAMers? Now is the time for you to show you care.
We hope for you to bring two takeaways from this episode:
1. Meet other DREAMers.
2. Make sure you call your members of Congress to pass the DREAM Act over the next six months.
A Missouri-native, Zac Otero is a true testament that a four-year degree isn’t always an indicator of success. High school dropout, Zac Otero describes how he worked his way up the career ladder from working a blue-collared job working at a McDonalds, a popcorn factory, a grocery warehouse and a meat packing factory before landing a Salesforce admin role. He talks about how he got into this role, what Salesforce is, and how he learned through books before the online platform Trailhead came out.
As a Salesforce admin, Zac clarifies that he is certified to work with Salesforce but he's not an employee of the company. He works for a public accounting and advising services firm, BKD CPA’s & Advisors.
From New York to San Diego, Saron has launched one of the biggest coding podcasts called CodeNewbie. The show has over 1.4 million downloads and listened to over a hundred countries.
With a Twitter community of over 27,000 people, Saron hosts the #CodeNewbie Twitter Chat happening every Wed @9PM EST. She organizes meetups in ATL, Philly, New York, and DC. She caters to an early audience to get people to recognize that there are multiple ways to learn how to code.
Saron is also the producer of Codeland Conference, an annual event that gives a whole new light to how tech conferences should be done.
Born in Atlanta, Mandy Cole is the founder of The Cole Method, a consulting firm that helps startups that have reached $1 million revenue to start learning how to go from putting balls in the basket to playing basketball.
It's very important for someone that successfully broke into a startup to understand what a high functioning sales organization looks like. Listen in to find out how a high-functioning sales organization is supposed to operate. Mandy is an expert at not just building organizations but explaining how that looks like and establishing the necessary processes in place.
Among Mandy’s career portfolio include companies like Main Street Hub, Zenefits, Stella & Dot, and LivingSocial where she has served as VP of Sales.
Gabe Moncayo is the CEO and Founder of AlwaysHired, a three-week teaching program focused on training sales development representatives. A Bay Area-native, Gabe grew up in a family with roots to South American. He never went to college and instead got his first job in political fundraising. Gabe transitioned over from nonprofit to for-profit orgs where he did lead generation and worked at several startups. He was so passionate about the skill that he wanted to focus on teaching other people from nontraditional backgrounds about how to break into tech via the sales route.
Matt Tran is the Founder of Engineered Truth, a YouTube channel with over 240,000 subscribers. He initially followed the traditional path, studying Psychology and Mechanical Engineering in college. He had three jobs as a mechanical engineer but got fired from all of them until he finally started his YouTube channel where he now makes over $10,000 a month.
Also, tune-in and check out how Matt did this and what are some resources you can use to help you get started if this is something you’re interested in.
(Bonus: Discover how he negotiated his way to learn coding for free.)
Dr. Carol Langlois is a lifelong educator who used to run the business program at USF. She was the Dean at Mills College and founder of Higher Education Specialists.
She did a dissertation in female self-esteem development that led her to creating a book called Girl Talk where she interviewed over 200 high school women on the subject. It was later turned into a play called Girl Talk: Teen Monologue Series. It's next performance is going to be on August 24 @ Potrero Stage in SF.
Kelvin Lightner is a software engineer apprentice at Intuit and a graduate of Dev Bootcamp. Prior to tech, Kelvin has a double major in Legal Studies and Economics from UC Berkeley and he worked as a consultant at Deloitte.
A true lover of logic, he jumped from management consulting to tech with this strong belief that the end does not justify the means. Kevin has drawn great support from #YesWeCode, an organization that helps people from underrepresented backgrounds break into the tech space.
Mike Slagh is the Founder of Shift.org, a hiring pipeline for military veterans. Back in the military, Mike was a bomb technician and since finishing his service a little over a year ago, he started Shift.org to create new pathways for veterans into various industries that didn't exist before.
There will be about a million new veterans in the next five years, which means there are 20,000 military service members leaving every month. Mike’s greater purpose is to help bridge that gap between the military and the civilian world through skills translation and leveraging the power of personal connections.
An East Bay-local, Pavan Ravipati grew up in a family of tech people. He initially took Film and Media in college, landed some corporate sales roles, and worked his way up but he ultimately found his calling in tech. After taking some coding courses online, Pavan decided to join Hack Reactor and he eventually took part in the organization's Hacker in Residence Program.
Currently, Pavan serves as a Solutions Engineer at GitHub, a leading open source software company.
Erica Prenga is currently an Experience Developer at Adobe. Aware that she had a different learning style, she decided to quit college after her fourth year of studying graphic design until she ultimately figured that going to a coding bootcamp was what she wanted to do and how she wanted to learn.
Erica is a Dev Bootcamp graduate and in this episode, she shares how she approached her job hunt differently as well as a couple of negotiating techniques, which people wouldn’t have normally done. Erica is big on having confidence in what you’re capable of doing and understanding your value so you don’t end up selling yourself short.
With Dominican roots, Ysiad Ferreiras grew up in the Bronx where fear was not unusual thing and where hard life would be an understatement. He has made some bad decisions in his early life but he managed to pivot his way into right path doing well academically, learning how to code, and breaking into the tech space.
Currently, he serves as the VP of Sales at Hustle, a text messaging platform which is now being used by major politicians and people in nonprofit and labor organizations including the teams of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Planned Parenthood, UFCW, and more.
Hustle is still in the seed stage but is now experiencing tremendous growth sending over 160 million messages. Ysiad and his sales team have taken it from zero to over $5 million in booked revenue, one of the fastest growing sales trajectories in Silicon Valley history.
Kristin Parke is a hacker aka a security consultant at the NCC Group. She shares her journey into tech and how she transitioned from music to science until ultimately she becoming an engineer.
In this episode, you can find out how she went from learning how to code and following that path until breaking into the security industry. She also discusses the parallels of reading music and coding and biology and hacking as well as what you can do to protect yourself from imminent cyber attacks.
From a chef to restaurateur to Math teacher to software engineer, Mannah Kallon has a pretty crazy and nontraditional background. That makes him an asset on anyone's team.
He earned degrees in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Michigan and got his Master's in Education from Fordham University. Mannah was teaching kids in Harlem when he decided to move to the West Coast and learn how to code through Dev Bootcamp.
Today, Mannah’s shares a handful of insights that you too can apply to your own life whether you want to break into tech or simply want to follow your passion! You don’t want to miss this one.
A self-confessed nerd and Sailor Moon enthusiast, Jessica Uelmen built her first HTML/CSS website at 13 years old and got involved with theater during college until she ultimately decided to major in electrical engineering during Sophomore year.
She ended up working as an electrical engineer for a few years after finishing school until she decided to pursue her passion for education and worked as a program manager at Udacity, an education company that offers free online classes where she specifically managed the company’s Nanodegree programs. She then took a leap into the product management space and attended Product School. Currently, Jessica serves as a Product Manager at Fitbit.
Yusuf Soomro figured out a way to incorporate his love of healthcare into tech and basically fast-track his way to a well paying job. Dropping out of college as a pre-med, he decided to become a software engineer and enrolled in App Academy when he was 18-years old. He ended up going through his job search at 19-years old and finding a software engineering job at a healthcare/tech startup. During the episode we also discuss what it was like being 20 years old, driving a BMW while some of his peer are just finishing up college with most of them having loans to payoff.
His journey wasn’t that easy though. He initially got failed the first two assessments at App Academy but he came back stronger and smarter the second time around completing his time at App Academy at the top of his class. The same goes for his job search process. He was committed and relentless that he didn’t even let age or lack of traditional experience get in the way of doing what he really wanted to do.
Based in San Francisco, Hackbright Academy is focused on teaching women how to code. We're recording several interviews with Hackbright graduates including our guest today, Chloe Condon.
Growing up in a family of artists in the Bay Area, Chloe ended up working at startups by day and performing as a theater actress by night. Prior to her current role as a Developer Evangelist at Codefresh, Chloe held a number of jobs including an Account Executive at Yelp and an office manager role at another startup.
In one of her previous jobs working as an Executive Assistant to the CEO of NewCo, she attended an event that changed her life and put her on a trajectory to study software engineering through Hackbright Academy.
Wayne Neale is the Co-Founder of GrowthX Academy, a 12-week, onsite, immersive, full-time educational experience program focusing on careers in Sales, Growth Marketing, and UX Design. The academy was born out of the need for more non-technical roles in the tech space.
Prior to this, Wayne was an operator at several companies. He started his own design consultancy and got several degrees including a Doctorate in UX Design. Originally from Ohio, Wayne currently lives in Phoenix and today, he shares with us his insightful perspectives on the current state of alternative educational programs as well as how you can break into nontechnical roles at startups.
Niv Dror currently runs social at Product Hunt and does their daily newsletter featuring the latest and coolest products. Prior to tech, Niv shifted from soccer to academics, majored in Finance, and worked for some of top hedge funds and VC firms. It wasn’t until witnessing the power of Twitter and getting inspired by the investor Chris Sacca, did Niv decide to get off the finance path and break into tech.
In this episode, Niv talks about how he leveraged blog posts to meet the Who's Who of Silicon Valley, how to craft powerful cold emails, and a brief walk-through of his journey into tech, guided by his north star of offering value without expecting anything in return.
Kenny Tran is a passionate writer and coder. He chose to forego college and instead pursued his personal projects and his love of writing. After reading a post on Hacker News about App Academy, he decided to apply and learn how to code, joining the first Ruby on Rails cohort. He also attended Hack Reactor and built a cool project, PurifyCSS, that went viral on GitHub and Hacker News.
He eventually joined Mesosphere, an infrastructure startup, serving as a front end engineer but is soon leaving this job in order to focus more on his upcoming personal projects.
In this episode, Kenny talks more about his bootcamp journey, his job search experience, the life lessons he learned along the way, and the awesome projects he created.
Anthony "Pomp" Pompliano is best known for his hustle. Since early years, he's been coming up with business ideas and today he invests in companies and helps them grow.
Before he became a Venture Capitalist, Pomp served as a Sergeant in the US Army, founded and exited 2 companies and then broke into Facebook as a Product Manager.
On this episode, Pomp drops a lot of gems on how he helps companies grow and what he did to get his job at Facebook.
UK-born Soroush Mehraein moved to the United States and graduated from UC Berkeley. He studies Industrial Engineering and ended up doing consulting for biopharma companies, Soroush attended a coding bootcamp and transitioned into the software engineering roles top Silicon Valley tech companies.
Prior to Google where he’s currently working as a software engineer, Soroush attended Hack Reactor to hone his coding skills and ended up landing a job at Uber. On the episode, Soroush discussed the interview process and what it was like working on the engineering team at Uber. While on the job, Soroush applied and got accepted into CodePath, a mobile training bootcamp for existing software engineers.
Living by Winston Churchill’s quote, “If you’re going through hell, keep going,”
Soroush believes that putting your heart and soul into building the right kind of relationships along with developing an in-demand skill set can surely take you places.
Based in Boston, Dan Pickett founded a program called Launch Academy built around the premise of helping people become the best version of themselves. Graduating over 500 people, the school is now set to expand in Philly along with some plans to create a virtual adaptation of their on-campus experience.
Starting his company at 15 years old, which is indicative of his entrepreneurial, hungry, and passionate spirit, Dan encourages people to not let age become a barrier if you’re interested in entrepreneurship. This episode explodes with nuggets of wisdom from Dan as he talks about the different keys to success, not just about searching for a job, but also on the power of maintaining your personal psychology.
Growing up in Taiwan for 17 years, Kimberly Han moved to Seattle to go to College where she majored in Psychology while minoring in Dance. For majority of her adult life she was a professional tango dancer and a teacher as well as a voice actress for eight years. Until one day she realized she wanted to break into tech.
Having been able to successfully translate her dancing and acting skill-sets in sales, Kim currently works as a Business Development Rep at Square. She is also an organizer at One Salon SF, a weekly social, cultural, intellectual gathering of a community of over 2,000 people in San Francisco.
Coming from a nontraditional background as an educator living in China for years, Quincy combined his passion for education and technology to launch Free Code Camp, an open-source community that helps people learn how to code and practice their coding skills by building projects for nonprofits.
Quincy has indeed built a massive network of “campers” with close to a million developers learning how to code around the world. Free Code Camp has helped over 5,000 people find their first engineering jobs and 6,000 developers level up by getting better jobs.
Being a prolific writer that he is, Quincy is also the editor of freeCodeCamp, Medium’s largest technical publication read by 100,000 people every day.
Realizing the need for a more rigorous and accelerated curriculum for software engineers, Nimit Maru founded Fullstack Academy. He also founded its sister school, the Grace Hopper Program, which is the world's first tuition-deferred coding academy for women.
Prior to Fullstack Academy, Nimit and his co-founder, David Yang, graduated from Y Combinator. He also worked as a software engineer at Yahoo! and got his business degree from Wharton. Aside from seeing how the tech scene in the Bay Area and in New York differ from each other, Nimit has also seen how much coding bootcamps have gained credibility and recognition (especially among large tech companies) over the years.
As a teen mom, Natasha Vianna had to deal with the stereotype that society has boxed her in. But she didn’t let this break her spirit. Natasha’s goal was and is to be the best version of herself. In fact, seeing how people (who are in a situation similar to her) needed all the support they could get was what led her to break into tech activism. Currently, Natasha leads the community activities at Honor and she is also the co-founder of #NoTeenShame, a movement that works towards reproductive justice.
Austin Belcak didn’t have it all figured out when he picked a Biology major in college and landed his first sales job in the medical field, both of which he didn’t actually like. However, he used them as motivation to push harder and further. By building his knowledge and networking with the right people, Austin has now landed his dream job at Microsoft. Additionally, his brewing desire of becoming an entrepreneur eventually led him to create Cultivated Culture, a platform that allows him to share his job search process with people in need of advice and resources.
Austin is holding a Virtual Career Mastery Summit coming up on April 03-08, 2017, featuring ten speakers (including Ruben, Artur, and Timur) to talk about various topics from helping people get interviews at companies and making transitions, all the way to starting a side business and growing it up to six figures while working full-time.
Sign up here to learn more about Virtual Career Mastery Summit and join this free event.
Everette Taylor is not just any 27-year-old. Don’t be fooled by his age. To date, Everette built four companies including GrowthHackers.com, which he co-founded with Sean Ellis, Millisense Marketing Consulting, and GrowthPub.
He is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at Skurt, a mobility startup delivering rental cars-on-demand. Additionally, he was recently announced as the National Brand Ambassador for the NASA Startup Initiative and has been honored as a Social Influencer of the Year by Black Enterprise.
This Southside Richmond, Virginia-native, shares an extremely inspiring story of how he was able to achieve all of these accomplishments despite being homeless at young age.
Now he travels the world speaking at various conferences while building and empowering his team at Skurt.
For Michael Jay Walker, his career was more likely driven by the motivation to do what people thought he couldn't do, fearlessly working his way up the marketing ladder until a decision to take a passionate leap into the tech space.
Michael got his MBA at Ross School of Business and took on executive marketing roles for large corporations such as Ford Motor Company, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, EA, and Mattel.
25 years later, he went out to co-found a mobile app startup and served as a Chief Marketing Officer and Operations Officer at a few other tech companies. He then decided to learn how to code at Dev Bootcamp until he was later asked to join the team as a Chief Academic Officer and Campus Director in San Francisco.
Being a 3rd generation San Franciscan who grew up in public housing, Stevon has always been aware of the challenges of his community including the major lack of access to Computer Science education among kids in the Bay Area. His drive to take part in bridging this tech divide was what got him to join Mission Bit, where he now serves as the CEO. Stevon also ran and won the election to be the Commissioner on the Board of Education for the City of San Francisco.
By leveraging relationships and tapping into the power of asking, Stevon is committed to providing computer science education for kids in the Bay Area so they can truly unlock their full potential.
It is his love of tech that got Carlos González de Villaumbrosia to immigrate from Spain to the United States. Being good at numbers and video games, led him to study computer science at one of the top universities in Spain where he spent five years learning how to code.
Although he once dreamed of becoming a soccer player as a child, Carlos is a coach, not on the playing field, but rather in the educational space. He is a serial entrepreneur having started three companies including Product School that teaches product management to people who have the passion to do it.
One thing Kenyatta Leal knows is that while there’s no manual for surviving a life sentence, tapping into the power of visualization can definitely get you far (in fact, as far as getting out of prison and now working as a Manager of Campus Services at RocketSpace, a tech campus for startups.)
Kenyatta believes that the greatest challenges present the greatest opportunities.
A former resident at San Quentin State Prison, Kenyatta owned up for the bad choices he had made in the past and corrected his course. He eventually became the founding member of The Last Mile, a startup accelerator and entrepreneurial program, where they help incarcerated individuals develop tech skills in order to prepare them for successful re-entry.
Born in China and raised in the U.S., Yan Fan knows that her coding skills are a superpower she can apply in any industry or role. Yan started out working as a commodities trader on Wall Street. Several years later, she discovered her other passion - coding.
After completing a coding bootcamp, Hack Reactor, Yan became a UI engineer at a big data startup called Ayasdi. This experience led her to join forces with ReBootKAMP, a nonprofit organization in the MIddle East focused on teaching Syrian refugees and women how to code.
A New Jersey-native, Charlie Harrington believes that you can’t find luck unless you take that courage to jump off the train and put yourself out there.
From New York to London, Charlie transitioned from finance to business development at a startup. As if breaking into startups via the non-technical route wasn’t enough to quench his thirst for creativity, Charlie ultimately took a deep dive into software engineering by attending a coding bootcamp called Hack Reactor.
Charlie currently works at LendUp as a software engineer but it was through a chance encounter that eventually got him the job.
Rodney Urquhart grew up in a North Philly neighborhood ridden with gang violence and effects of the crack epidemic. After seeing people around him get involved with gangs and crime, he realized that staying in high school would result in getting arrested or shot.
At 16, Rodney dropped out of high school and moved in with his grand mother. Being a high school dropout and having no college degree, Rodney had his fair share of companies casting doubt on his ability. But his willingness to learn and work well with others was what got him to create an impressive company portfolio including Comcast, Microsoft’s Yammer, and ThoughtWorks. He didn’t just want to survive, he wanted to thrive.
Rodney currently heads the test infrastructure team at Slack. He is also part of a program called /dev/color, a non-profit organization that aims to maximize the impact of Black software engineers in the tech space.
Jotaka Eaddy is a concrete example that you can come from political and social activism, take those exact same skills, and use them everyday to help build a business that creates change.
Even back as a seventh grader living in a small town in South Carolina, Jotaka was adamant about her commitment to abolish death penalty (that she even wrote this down on her high school yearbook.) Jotaka grew up as an activist and organizer who evolved into a political strategist.
Currently, Jotaka serves as the Head of Government Affairs at LendUp. She never would have imagined getting into tech but social impact tech was her driving force for finally joining the bandwagon. She then realized that tech people are not just a bunch of guys in white shirts, but like policy people, they are also dreamers and people who hustle to be transformative.
A Baltimore-native, Charles Pridgen majored in International Business and Finance, but realizing that he didn’t fit into the financial field he pursued a career in sales and eventually decided to break into startups.
Charles previously worked at LivingSocial and Salesforce. He is currently working at a startup called Loggly, a cloud-based log management and search platform.
Charles is also an organizer of the Black Professionals Network (BPN) where he seeks to build a community that fosters diversity through the power of networking and which has now grown into a massive success and a source of inspiration among people in the Bay Area.
Influenced by a strong Nigerian culture of excellence, education and faith, Ty moved from Arizona to San Francisco in search of that ONE opportunity that would push him every single day. Currently, Ty works on the Growth and Business Development team at Omni, an on-demand storage and delivery service.
Often referred to by his friends as the 10X TY, Ty is a firm advocate of the Power of One where you should find that one thing & make damn sure you do it really, really well. Ty underlines the power of humility, being genuine, and leveraging relationships to help get you to where you want to be.
A Newport-native, Divine started dealing drugs at 13, got incarcerated at 18, and found himself not only locked up physically in federal prison, but also, in a psychological cycle of recidivism.
Always knowing he was bound to be more than that, Divine tapped into his spirituality, fortitude, and his quick grasp of knowledge and turned his 7-year sentence into a self-development workshop. Along with some help from his mentor, Divine was finally able to break out of his destructive pattern going from incarceration to innovation.
From crack to rap to tech, Divine currently provides financial literacy and entrepreneurship education to people through his new startup BLAK Fintech (where BLAK stands for Building Leverage Acquiring Knowledge).
Growing up in one of the poorest areas in Philadelphia, Rita Henderson broke a ton of barriers as a single mom proving to the society that she was more than just a statistic. Moving from North Philly to DC, Rita finally drove all the way to San Francisco in the hope of making things work for her family and carrying with her that burning passion of bringing change into the community.
Rita is currently involved in the recruiting department at a startup company called Honor, an in-home senior care provider. Rita is the sister of Idalin Bobe who also came here on the show recently.
Maurice is a 6'10" Richmond, California-native, legendary designer, and former professional basketball player who worked at several tech companies including Microsoft and Yahoo. He is the Founder of Inneract Project that helps youth and communities learn how to design.
It was in getting involved with startup projects that really got him into the tech space because he was able to make mistakes, learn from them, correct them, and get even way better. (Shout out to Maurice’s mom for ushering him through his design journey.)
A San Francisco-native, Nick deWilde was so certain he wanted to make movies but he ended up taking on a different path that impacts people’s lives. Nick is now the Program Director at Tradecraft, an immersive program that helps people break into tech into business development, designer, or growth roles.
His journey wasn’t easy. He took the plunge, worked as a waiter, went back to live at his parents house, and did customer support at a bank until he finally found his voice in the tech space. Nick is a rockstar who continues to help people pursue their real passion and craft their stories so they too can become rockstars in whichever field they choose.
Transitioning from arts to engineering was not a smooth ride for Matt Brooks, but he never allowed obstacles to get in the way because he was willing to embrace failures.
Matt started out as a fine arts major and was doing woodwork until one day, something grabbed his attention to engineering and gave it a try. He started to learn coding, initially gave up, went back to try it another time, and got rejected at the bootcamp the first time.
His job search experience wasn’t an easy one either. But persistence was the key theme for Matt. He kept going and going and sought the guidance of a mentor until he finally found his place working as a software engineer at OpenTable.