Startup Weekends have been popping up all over the country in a global grassroots movement of active community leaders and entrepreneurs, who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. This results in a 54-hour workshop to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies that will—ideally—change lives. This go-round, Startup Weekend Oakland, landed at the Kapor Center for Social Impact and focused on hacking bias.
This particular topic started out of a movement from Kapor Capital to invest in software companies that mitigate bias and create a more equitable workforce. The overarching question that stood out for Kapor was, is bias something you can actually hack?
Well, it seems that it is.
The event took place October 7 and 8 at the Kapor Center for Social Impact in Oakland, CA, where an incredibly diverse group of 70 hackers showed face. The diversity extended into both ethnicity and gender, with a turnout of 70% women, something that Kapor themselves hadn’t even expected.
Erica Joy Baker, senior engineer at Slack, kicked off the festivities, and the participants got to work pitching their ideas and forming teams. By Saturday night, they were four teams deep, diving into software solutions focused on closing gaps of access. By Sunday, the projects were wrapped up and presented to a panel of judges, which included: Dr. Freada Kapor Klein, Founder, LPFI & Partner, Kapor Capital, Aubrey Blanche, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Atlassian, and Allison Scott, Ph.D., Director of Research and Evaluation at LPFI.
Within the four teams, there were two standouts. The winner was Lakeisha Poole with Talent Karma, a talent-centric, inclusive community that delivers curated professional development insights to community members while showcasing employer culture. This was followed by runners-up, Martha Hernandez and Evren Simsek, with madeBOS, a mobile app that improves access to social capital through career planning.
Lakeisha received three months of VC mentorship with Kapor Capital (six sessions), and partners, including a month with VC legend Mitch Kapor, Kapor Capital Partner and seed-stage investor in Uber, Twilio, Dropcam, Asana, and founding chair of the Mozilla Foundation. They will assist her with ideation, legal advice, and additional guidance throughout her building process, getting her best fitted for VC growth.
Overall, the event had a great turnout, and Kapor is gearing up for the next one. In December, they will be moving onto the 2.0 version of last year’s event, the “People Operations Reinvented” tech competition, where they will be investing in later-staged companies that are ready to grow and scale.