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New DivInc cohort announced – diversity in tech pre-accelerator

(TECH NEWS) DivInc unveils their second cohort and a tech inclusion event at SXSW, all in an effort to improve diversity in the tech industry.

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An astonishing disparity

Lack of diversity is a problem in nearly every industry, especially tech startup ecosystem, where women founders receive only 3 percent of venture capital funding, and African American and Latino founders together receive less than 2 percent.

Without a boost from venture capital, many startups don’t stand a chance – no matter how much they deserve one.

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Pre-accelerator focused on diversity

An Austin-based incubator focused on encouraging diversity in the tech industry, DivInc is on a mission to rebalance those scales.

The nonprofit diversity champion launched their first pre-accelerator program for women and minority entrepreneurs last fall, aiming create a “more transparent path for entrepreneurship” for underrepresented demographic groups “by providing access to the network of critical resources that are essential to building high growth and scalable businesses.”

Second cohort announced

DivInc recently announced the members of its second cohort, for a program that will begin April 3 and last 12 weeks. This cohort is made up of seven women and nine men, and fourteen members of the Spring cohort are underrepresented ethnicities in the tech industry.

These founders were selected on the basis of their motivation, passion, commitment, and willingness to be coached. The companies are all technology-related, or tech-enabled, and they all have, at minimum, a validated concept, though some have reached the Minimum Viable Product stage:

  • Jamal Wilburn, founder of BigMouff/li>
  • Kate Peiler, founder of disruptED/li>
  • Mark Ruvalcaba, Raj Panesar and Joe Ruvalcaba, founders of FeverFit/li>
  • Louis Daily, Malik Djiba and Donté Houston, founders of Hairu/li>
  • Trisha Locke, founder of InPharm Global/li>
  • Shambrekia Wise, founder of INrichMe/li>
  • Sophie Kwok, founder of Love Intently/li>
  • Mira Royz, founder of MiraLend/li>
  • Mariam Derin Raji, founder of Tekhniteo/li>
  • Isis Ashford, Kehlin Swain and Michael Pittman, founders of Xplosion Tech

Partnering with the tech industry

Co-founder and CEO of DivInc, Preston James emphasizes the importance of community and collaboration in the pursuit of inclusion: “As someone who has been in the tech space for a number of years, I’ve seen the lack of diversity firsthand… We continue to receive tremendous support from the Austin community and beyond, and look forward to collaborating with partners that want to create a mindset shift within the tech industry.”

One of these partners is Galvanize Austin, a learning community oriented around tech that provides industry-specific training, workspace for brand new startups and long-established companies, and networking. DivInc’s program will operate out of Galvanize Austin, offering the cohort comprehensive programs and access to a vast network of mentors, as well as experienced entrepreneurs, subject experts, and the all-important investors.

Tech Inclusion event, March 15th

“At Galvanize, inclusiveness is one of our core values,” says Bill Blackstone, general manager at Galvanize Austin. “We’re proud to partner with DivInc and be part of the effort to ensure access to opportunity for diverse tech founders here in Austin and across the technology sector.”

If you’re an Austinite or you’re in town for SXSW, check out the free Tech Inclusion event at Galvanize on Wednesday, March 15. DivInc’s Preston James will be in attendance as a speaker, and after a couple of hours of talks and panels you can unwind at a happy hour to network with fellow inclusive minds.

#DivInc

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Tech News

How to opt out of Google’s robots calling your business phone

(TECH) Google’s robots now call businesses to set appointments, but not all companies are okay with talking to an artificial intelligence tool like a person. Here’s how to opt out.

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You know what’s not hard? Calling a restaurant and making a reservation. You know what’s even easier? Making that reservation though OpenTable. You know what we really don’t need, but it’s here so we have to deal with it? Google Duplex.

Falling under “just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should do it,” Duplex, Google’s eerily human-sounding AI chat agent that can arrange appointments for Pixel users via Google Assistant has rolled out in several cities including New York, Atlanta, Phoenix, and San Francisco which now means you can have a robot do menial tasks for you.

There’s even a demo video of someone using Google Duplex to find an area restaurant and make a reservation and in the time it took him to tell the robot what to do, he could’ve called and booked a reservation himself.

Aside from booking the reservation for you, Duplex can also offer you updates on your reservation or even cancel it. Big whoop. What’s difficult to understand is the need or even demand for Duplex. If you’re already asking Google Assistant to make the reservation, what’s stopping you from making it yourself? And the most unsettling thing about Duplex? It’s too human.

It’s unethical to imply human interaction. We should feel squeamish about a robo-middleman making our calls and setting our appointments when we’re perfectly capable of doing these things.

However, there is hope. Google Duplex is here, but you don’t have to get used to it.

Your company can opt out of accepting calls by changing the setting in your Google My Business accounts. If robots are already calling restaurants and businesses in your city, give your staff a heads-up. While they may receive reservations via Duplex, at least they’ll be prepared to talk to a robot.

And if you plan on not opting out, at least train your staff on what to do when the Google robots call.

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Tech News

Bose launches headphone-less headphones for your face

(TECHNOLOGY) Bose is using augmented reality in a fascinating new way (even if we’re poking fun at it).

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Just in time for the holidays, Bose releases Frames, their new breakthrough sunglasses that combine the protection and style of premium sunglasses, the functionality and performance of wireless headphones, and the world’s first audio augmented reality platform.

At $199 per pair, they’re the perfect gift for the person who has everything and who will eventually lose them in a lake, leave them in a fitting room, or crush them in a car seat.

Frames have the ability to stream music and information, take and make calls, and access virtual assistants. Bose promises that your playlists, entertainment, and conversations will stay private, although how your conversations will remain private is unclear. Expect confusion from every stranger within earshot.

Bose is calling Frames a revolutionary wearable, but aren’t these just headphones for your face? Very cool headphones for your face?

Bose is pushing the AR functionality hard.

Although they can’t change what you see, they know what you’re seeing using a 9-axis head motion sensor and the GPS from your iOS or Android. Once they know what you see, the AR automatically tunes you into audio commentary for that place, opening users to endless possibilities for travel, learning, entertainment, and gaming.

They claim Frames are hands-free and clear-eyed, but even if that’s the case, do we really need more people walking around under the influence of distraction? As if it weren’t enough to have people’s eyes glued to their phones, now we can have people in matching sunglasses wandering around talking to themselves. Now who looks bonkers?

Frames are available for preorder now and are expected to ship in January 2019. Look for Bose to release updates to their AR at SXSW in March.

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Tech News

What’s TikTok, why’s it so huge, and why is Facebook scared of it?

(TECH) TikTok has taken the internet by storm – you’ve probably seen the videos floating around, so here’s the context your business needs to know.

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Jimmy Fallon recently challenged his viewers to his version of a #sharpiechallenge. That’s where you toss a sharpie into the air, catch it, take the cap off and draw a mustache on yourself with it. He requested that viewers use TikTok to record it and upload it.

As of this writing, the hashtag boasts 8.2 million views in TikTok alone – if it wasn’t big before it gained Fallon as a fan, it is now.

What Is TikTok?

The TikTok app is the brainchild of Bytedance, a Chinese company that once owned Muscal.ly, and it launched in September 2016 as Douyin (it’s Chinese moniker). When it launched internationally, a year later, they branded the social media app TikTok. When Musical.ly shut down, users had to switch.

The app lets users view, create and share 15-second videos (kind of like Vine, RIP). It’s estimated that there are over 500 million users worldwide. The app has been highly ranked in the charts for number of downloads over the past few months, with a spike when Fallon had his first challenge, #tumbleweedchallenge. (For the record, Fallon and The Tonight Show do not have a business relationship with Bytedance.)

Users can lip-sync, do duets, record a reactions video and has some excellent tech in the app for video editing. Users can comment on videos and create video memes. It’s pretty fascinating. And wildly appealing to the masses.

One of the best things about TikTok is that the app doesn’t have advertising or monetization capabilities, even though it has a broad audience. With an estimated 500 million users, it’s just a matter of time.

Facebook launches a TikTok-clone.

Facebook doesn’t want to be late to the game. In classic follower fashion, they have launched their own short-video app, Lasso.

I played with both apps, and Lasso just doesn’t have comparable content.

What Facebook does have is its user base. By integrating with Facebook itself, Lasso may outdo TikTok eventually, but it will need to increase its capabilities.

Why should your business take notice?

Small businesses should be aware of these apps. Online videos are driving social media engagement. Content is king, and you’ve been reading here for years that video is a powerful component of any social media strategy.

TikTok and Lasso give you video-making and video-sharing tools that could increase your online presence.

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