Check out innovative women of color founders in tech.
By Vanessa Mason (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)
With Google releasing their employment data revealing a lack of diversity in their workforce, you might think we haven’t made much progress with diversity in tech. This list identifies a few of the many rising great women of color.
These startups are two years old or younger, so they’re just breaking into the the tech scene. Read on to learn about women are breaking records with their ventures and inspiring us all with their successes.
1. The Artistic Ambassador: Elen Awalom
Elen Awalom has leveraged her software development prowess and her artistic eye to found Curatoric, a web and mobile platform for high-end and middle market visual art by people of African diaspora. While Curatoric is pre- launch, we’re sure that it will be an amazing hit. Awalom is a full stack engineer who has already been recognized as a FOCUS100 fellow, digitalundivided ambassador and Kapor Capital Women 2.0 scholarship recipient in addition to serving as Diversitech’s African & African Diaspora Manager.
2. The Family Educator: Ana Roca-Castro
Ana Roca-Castro’s startup Plaza Familia is the first platform for bilingual education for Latino students and parents. The platform offers teachers tools to get families engaged in the learning process. The company has received investment from Kapor Capital. Roca-Castro’s track record shows that Plaza Familia will be sure to achieve long-term success. She has a long track record of educational tech development to close the academic achievement gap ranging from social media to game development.
3. The Citizen Journalist: Amra Tareen
Amra Tareen is making it easier for content creators to get their material distributed to consumers with her company Little Cast, a direct-to-fan video marketing and commerce platform that has raised over $2 million. Little Cast is not her first foray into founding a media company. She also founded allvoices.com, a global media social news site that she sold in 2011. Previously, Tareen directed product marketing at Lucent Technologies and was a partner at Sevin Rosen Funds. She earned her MBA from Harvard Business School.
4. The Urban Hacker: Zakiya Harris
Zakiya Harris is the co-founder of Hack The Hood, Impact Hub Oakland, Grind for the Green, and Earthseed Consulting. Hack the Hood provides training in multimedia and tech skills to youth who then work on real-world consulting projects with locally-owned businesses and non-profits. The organization recently won a $500,000 grant through the Google Bay Area Impact Challenge. In addition to her social impact and tech ventures, she’s also a recording artist.
5. The Maker Maven: Tanya Menendez
Tanya Menendez founded Brooklyn-based Maker’s Row to make the manufacturing process simple to understand and easy to access. As COO, she brings her expertise in operations and automation to the company, which has raised over $1 million to date. Previously, Menendez analyzed internal operations for Google’s Strategy and Innovation team and Goldman Sachs. She also served as Brooklyn Bakery’s COO and co-owner. Menendez was a finalist in Women 2.0’s Pitch Competition in 2013.
6. The Parenting Guru: Sonali Perera
Sonali Perera founded her third startup Slidelane after she was not able to find activities for her children as a new mother. Her company curates activities and places to help new parents learn about the family-friendly side of their neighborhoods. Perera has extensive experience in finance and business development from stints at PayPal, Yahoo, Cisco and Warner Brothers. She earned her MBA from University of Southern California.
7. The Cancer Conqueror: Feyi Olopade
Feyi Olopade is the founder and CEO of Cancer IQ. The Chicago-based company provides applications that leverage data analytics to facilitate clinical decision making for cancer treatment and care. Cancer IQ is a Rock Health portfolio company. Previously, Olopade directed the Wharton Social Venture Fund after gaining investment banking and management consulting experience at McKinsey and Credit Suisse. She earned her MBA from University of Pennsylvania.
8. The Serial Entrepreneur: Alicia Morga
Alicia Morga has developed a couple iOS apps, Gainful and gottaFeeling. Gainful provides daily professional development and coaching for employees and entrepreneurs. GottaFeeling allows users to identify, express and manage feelings and emotions. She also currently advises several startups including Voxy, Deca TV, Juntos Finanzas, Skinny Scoop, IndiDenim, Fertility Ties, and New Latina. Her company, Consorte Media, a digital media and marketing company serving the Hispanic market in the United States and Latin America was acquired in 2010. She earned her JD and BA from Stanford University.
9. The Social Matchmaker: Hosan Lee
Hosan Lee is the CEO and founder of TableTribes, a social engagement platform that facilitates offline engagement. The company is an extension of a initial DC picnic series highlighted in The Washington Post. Her broader vision is to redefine networking and reverse the decline in social connectivity and empathy. Her second company, Xuntora Labs, is a research-based initiative that aims to understand how to help people relate to each other better through social and emotional intelligence and design. Lee also received a Kapor Capital Women 2.0 scholarship.
What other up-and-coming startups founded by women of color did we miss?
Vanessa Mason (@vanessamason) is the eHealth senior manager at ZeroDivide where she advises on the design, development and adoption of digital health for the underserved. Vanessa also consults on global health and technology development and adoption. She earned her BA from Yale University and her MPH from Columbia University.