(Oakland)--Today, the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Devlabs, and the City of Oakland announced the launch of a new initiative to support Oakland-based tech entrepreneurs. The Oakland Startup Network has created a web of service providers and resources to reduce the barriers to entrepreneurship for underserved and underrepresented entrepreneurs in Oakland.
“At a time when innovators and disruptors are driving our global economy and coming up with solutions to society’s toughest challenges, we can’t afford to miss out on the next great idea by leaving some of the best minds we have behind,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “With this partnership we can ensure that the financial independence that comes from being a successful entrepreneur isn’t just reserved for a few, at the same time that we benefit as a whole from the contributions that diverse business leaders can make.”
The Oakland Startup Network will provide a number of resources, including bootcamps, workshops, Startup Weekends, technical instruction, meetups, founders’ roundtables, and accelerator introductions for local tech entrepreneurs. It aims to increase the number and success rate of tech startups launched in Oakland by women and people of color, providing a significant opportunity to augment access to social and financial capital.
The Network is fueled in large part by a $420,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which sponsored last year’s Inclusion Challenge grant program to fund select organizations that help female entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color achieve higher rates of success.
“We’re very honored and highly pumped to work with the Kauffman Foundation on this effort,” said Cedric Brown, Chief of Community Engagement at the Kapor Center. “Oakland has such vibrant energy and a terrific array of assets; the Oakland Startup Network will create economic opportunities through investing in the learning and growth of diverse founders, which will ultimately benefit the broader community.”
The Oakland Startup Network was one of a dozen nonprofit entrepreneur support efforts selected by the Kauffman Foundation from over 375 applicants across the nation. The intention is to establish Oakland as a model for diverse entrepreneurship, and create replicable programming for other communities.
“We are excited about the possibility of creating a pipeline of outlier tech entrepreneurs from Oakland who are solving difficult problems using software solutions” said Ruben Hernandez, CEO of Devlabs. “We believe in the talent and the commitment of Oakland tech-entrepreneurs to solve problems in their communities and scale them to the world.”
“Oakland needs an ecosystem filled with investors, former founders, and mentors to help early founders like myself survive the unknown of the early years of a startup, commented Leandrew Robinson, Founder and CEO of Hingeto. “High quality programming and resources are critical to entrepreneurs.”
Interested entrepreneurs can find out more at www.OaklandStartup.Net.
Erica Terry Derryck