Merchandise Mart-based tech hub 1871 will host a Latino/Latina or African-American Entrepreneur in Residence for one year as part of nonprofit CODE2040's residency program, the organizations announced Monday.
Google for Entrepreneurs will fund the program at 1871 and two other American tech hubs: American Underground in Durham, N.C., and Capital Factory in Austin, Texas. CODE2040 is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization committed to boosting underrepresented minorities, particularly African-Americans and Latinos/Latinas, in the tech industry.
“I think that this is just another of the programs we’re working on that will permit us to provide access to another group of ideally super talented entrepreneurs but who wouldn’t otherwise have access to all of the resources there,” said 1871 CEO Howard Tullman.
The program will award each selected entrepreneur $40,000 in seed capital without asking for equity in return. It also will provide workspace in the partner hubs, a training trip to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., and mentoring and support from the CODE2040 and Google for Entrepreneur communities.
CODE2040 will accept applications for the yearlong program through Feb. 17. Applicants must identify themselves as African-American or Latino/Latina, reside or have resided in the city for which they apply and be a founder of an early stage tech company. The organization said applicants must also “be committed to impacting the racial, ethnic, and gender makeup of their local tech sector.”
Tullman said CODE2040 would manage the application process while his organization would provide workspace and facilities. He said the entrepreneur could move into 1871 as early as March.
Tullman expressed concern that requiring participants to focus on diversity initiatives while building young companies could prove challenging. He said he is waiting to hear what Google has planned to make that charge achievable.
“This is really on (the entrepreneurs), and frankly it’s important for them to have that commitment,” Tullman said. “There’s only a certain number of rabbits you can chase at the same time.”
Tullman said he would advise the Entrepreneur in Residence to focus on growing his or her business first. Tullman said the goals of business success and improving diversity can be achieved by making new opportunities available.