Tech

The Many Side-Hustles of Sherrell Dorsey, ThePLUG and BLKTECHCLT

ThePLUG is the first daily tech newsletter covering founders and innovators of color. What do these people have in common: Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Tim Cook, and Larry Ellison? Yes, these are all icons of the tech industry. They also happen to be white men. Sherrell Dorsey of ThePLUG says, “Part of my personal and professional growth was staying abreast of what was happening in the news.” However, she noticed a gap in tech news. “The daily business and tech news cycle is filled with the stories and work of white men building the future,” she says. “Rarely are we recognizing the work of…

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Mobile Gaming for Social Good, with Elizabeth Sarquis, Global Gaming Initiative and Jukko

Global Gaming Initiative provides a suite of tools and services to make it easier for game developers and publishers to produce and monetize games for social good. Elizabeth Sarquis was born in a small town along the Magdalena River in Colombia. When Elizabeth was five years old, her family moved to the US. Growing up, she went to school in the US and spent time her summers in Colombia. Elizabeth says “It struck me when I would see children on the streets begging. Then I would go back home, and I would have everything. It didn’t make sense to me.” As an adult, Elizabeth worked in nonprofits focused on children’s…

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Making Technology Fun, Relevant, and Accessible for Girls, with Betty Gronneberg, uCodeGirl

uCodeGirl offers pathways to technology careers for teen girls by tapping into their curiosity, skills, and potential. Betty Gronneberg grew up in Ethiopia. She attended Addis Ababa University where she majored in statistics. Betty recalls a day in college when she saw her name on a list of students who had been accepted into the new Computer Science track. She was one of two female students on the list. This was 1991. The “world wide web” had not yet been invented. Betty learned to write simple programs in BASIC, an early computer language. Betty’s experience grew rapidly as the internet began to spread. She became a country-wide email administrator for…

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Connecting Buyers and Suppliers of Aid Supplies, with Stephanie Cox, The Level Market

The Level Market is the premier marketplace for aid and relief supplies. Stephanie Cox grew up looking at National Geographic with her grandfather. “I knew I wanted to travel the world when I was 6, 7, 8 years old,” she explains. After graduating from college, she traveled the world as a freelance journalist. In 2004, she had a near death experience during the Boxing Day Tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people. She worked in Nepal and in Eastern Europe during times of conflict. But, she found it difficult to make a living. Her family encouraged her to return to the United States to find her way forward. Stephanie moved…

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Improving the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Humanitarian Missions, with Lori Most, BinaryBridge

BinaryBridge creates software that helps humanitarians do their work effectively and efficiently. Lori Most grew up seeing television commercials of humanitarian crises, especially in Africa. Lori recounted, “I always wanted to go to Africa and help…I thought ‘I’m going to grow up and go over there.” In college, she started as a pre-med student. Part way through she switched to engineering. “I changed directions a lot,” she laughed. When she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in mathematics, she was left with this sense that she still wanted to help. After graduating, Lori quickly found work in the booming field of software development. She worked as a…

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Improving the Health of People and Companies, with Zach McGill, Perk Health

Perk Health helps you pick up healthier habits in a way that is sustainable. Zach McGill and Doug DeBold grew up playing sports. Games taught them so much: achievement, competition, leader boards, point scoring, rewards, rules of play, self-expression, socializing, mastery, and status. When it was time for college, Doug went off to college in Vermont while Zach attended the University of Minnesota. Initially, Zach studied engineering. He wanted to invent things. But, he says, “I realized, with engineering, there would be less inventing and lot more equations.” So, he started studying entrepreneurship. “It became clear to me that my path was going to be to start and build companies.”…

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102, Jim Fruchterman, Benetech | Technology Serving Humanity #TechForGood

What if we focused the power of technology on our greatest social challenges? Jim Fruchterman was a social entrepreneur before the term was popularized. He told me, “I didn’t know I was a social entrepreneur for the first ten years.” Jim was in a PhD program at Stanford when he Left to join a rocket company. Unfortunately the rocket blew up on the launching pad. But by this time, he had been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Instead of returning to the PhD program, Jim decided to go on to his next startup, a company that created omnifont Optical Character Recognition, or OCR. OCR is a technology that enables you…

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095, Nithya Ramanathan, Nexleaf Analytics | Connected Devices with Social Impact #TechForGood

Nexleaf Analytics creates low-cost connected devices with social impact. They help high-impact organizations measure everything from indoor smoke levels to the performance of a refrigerator holding precious vaccines. Nexleaf takes advantage of the widespread availability of inexpensive feature phones and sensors to collect the types of data that weren’t possible just a few years ago. Nithya Ramanathan first met her co-founder Martin Lukac while they were both working on their PhDs. Nithya told me, “Both of us ultimately were looking at how does real time wireless data from sensors, how can that really change the types of questions and the types of answers that scientists can start putting forth with…

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094, Amara Humphry, Gooru | Education Technology to Navigate Learning

Amara Humphry’s journey to education technology began on a trip to Cambodia when she was in middle school. While touring a temple, Amara and her sister met two local girls. The girls took Amara and her sister to see some temple sites that were off of the beaten path. Though they did not speak the same language, they enjoyed the day together. At the end of the day, Amara’s aunt gave the local girls a small amount of money and asked the girls to spend the money on books. This seemed like a strange request to Amara. The girls lacked so much: food, clothing and other possessions. Why would her…

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093, Taylor Downs, OpenFn | Increase Impact by Automating #TechForGood

In today’s episode of Social Entrepreneur, we continue our #TechForGood series. Today we meet Taylor Downs of OpenFn (pronounced open function). OpenFn is the easy way for NGOs to connect all of their technologies in a few clicks. Here’s why that is important. We know the promise of technology. When we automate routine data jobs: We increase the speed of our impact, brining data to near real time. We increase data accuracy, reducing data entry errors. We reduce costs of people-intensive routine jobs. And we can more easily utilize our technology, reducing the need for technical specialists on the job. We can quickly scale and amplify our impact, especially when…

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