The Starting Line for Startups - Learnings from our TCSW Virtual Career Fair
By: Philip Xiao
At the beginning of Twin Cities Startup Week, we kicked off the Virtual Career Fair to connect folks impacted by the pandemic with people and opportunities.
We reached out to 86 different student clubs and academic departments from 24 different colleges and universities. We identified 101 open positions spread amongst 23 different startups, focusing on companies that had been part of Beta.MN cohorts, the MN Cup or had raised significant amounts of venture funding. Seeing local companies scaling up despite the current nature of work was exciting, but the data also painted a bleak picture of inequity in our ecosystem.
“Starting up” is a privilege reserved for individuals who have access to resources, be they social or financial. These founders proceed to hire “people they’d want to grab a beer with”, who are often of the same social circle (childhood friends, college buddies, worked together at previous startup) in order to build a tight-knit group of like-minded individuals with shared values. Armed with their corporate culture, they scale their company by raising subsequent funding rounds from an even smaller and more privileged circle of individuals, ultimately creating wealth together upon liquidation.
Our data showed that an entire swath of high-quality talent is being ignored. These individuals tend to be from rural areas, are disproportionately BIPOC, and are part of a downward spiral of inequality simply because of a broken hiring system. It’s impossible for a career center to juggle recruiting relationships with dozens of companies and it takes years to develop an entrepreneurship program that can offer founder-to-founder mentorship or pitch competitions. This has nothing to do with their appetite for risk and everything to do with a lack of access to opportunity.
It’s a problem that needs to be solved and here’s how Homi is going to do it:
- Diversify our talent pipeline
Moving forward we will make opportunities from the Twin Cities Startup Week Career Fair available to any college or professional diversity organization. Starting with the National Association of Asian American Professionals, we’ll be opening doors for individuals of color who do not traditionally see themselves in the Twin Cities Startup community. This will increase the flow of talent that otherwise would have entered larger corporations, ultimately creating a more robust and diverse ecosystem.
- Leverage the resources of our community for the greater good
With Homi, every individual within the Twin Cities Startup Week community can post an offer to help. You can offer career advice, resume reviews, introductions, etc. You can create short 1 minute videos about how you broke into the startup world, helping others understand the process. This platform is the way to share all of our career wisdom and opportunities at scale. If you know of an opportunity that’s available, either at your company or another, please share it with the community.
- Create a culture of inclusion by truly bringing together the community
The foundation of Homi is a community that wants to help. Your net worth in this community is not how many VC’s you know, or how many exits you’ve had. It’s how helpful you are in lifting up others. If we can bring together all the amazing founders, community builders, and connectors in the Twin Cities, then something good is bound to happen.
Download the Homi app and join the Twin Cities Startup Community to be part of rebuilding Minnesota in an equitable way.
If you’re an employer in the Twin Cities serious about building a more diverse workforce, let’s talk about a solution.
Homi has a mission is to build and enable communities to be spaces where people can both help and be helped. The name of the brand stands for ‘Humans of My Institution’ — In the post-pandemic world, career fairs that used to involve large in-person gatherings are now virtual experiences, and physical campus recruiting are more dependent on referrals. Leveraging their platform, social impact organizations across academia, industries, and government can empower people to learn, give-back, and discover their passion. Learn more about Homi by visiting www.homi.io.
Twin Cities Startup Week (TCSW) is an annual technology festival that brings together Minnesota’s top thought leaders and innovators to solve the world’s greatest problems. With thousands of attendees and 200+ events in past years, TCSW is a great way for participants to gain insights, network, explore and learn more about Minnesota’s startup ecosystem. Learn more about TCSW here.