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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

Beautiful new wellness app takes a more holistic approach

(TECHNOLOGY) Using tech to help with wellness is nothing new, but this app takes a more holistic approach to help you balance.

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There are thousands of health and fitness apps in various marketplaces, so what distinguishes between them is often a matter of personal taste. Much like the variety of organizational apps, I find that picking a wellness app involves much the same process – what works for you? What do you need? What are your wellness goals? And so on.

I spent a few days with the new wellness app, Wellbody, and I will say I am fifty/fifty. I love the approach and philosophy of Wellbody. Take a look at their fundamental tenants:

  • We believe in progress over perfection
  • We believe in small, simple, and sustainable behavior change
  • We believe that with mindful practice, people can do amazing things
  • We believe that real change starts with being mindful…and is maintained through creating healthy habits
  • We take a holistic view across the five major pillars of health: nutrition, exercise and movement, sleep, stress management, and connection
  • We believe everyone deserves access to better health and wellness
  • We want to help you live life well

As a person who is incredibly engaged in their own wellness and trying to figure out how to do that, I believe fully in this model. Holistic perspectives on health are important for anyone.

However, a holistic perspective may mean some people perceive this app as having a lack of focus. It is foundational, so it is not a workout plan, or calorie counter, etc. It’s primarily educational. And the content is actually good. The foundation series are well narrated, and I think it does a good job of level setting and providing information.

It does have a daily quote and a little daily experiment (which I think is a good add). The content library is growing, and the sessions outside of the foundational session are great (I loved the “Mindfulness vs. Meditation” piece)

However, there are a few challenges I have right away.

First, the sessions don’t have any good visuals, summaries, or much of anything else.

Also, the daily experiment has been rather vague. Yes, I understand that it is a mindfulness app, but the challenges are more pondering and less practice.

Most critically – without an internet connection you can’t listen to this. So if you are on a plane, or on a limited reception subway, or are away from Wi-Fi, you can’t listen to any of the content. That’s a glaring issue, and it is too easy to turn to other podcasts or apps who we can listen to the content without an active internet connection. It makes it harder to open this app everyday, which is important for the way it works.

I think Wellbody has the concept down – what’s missing is more content. There needs to be more specific content, maybe a journaling feature, etc. I would recommend this app for anyone who is starting a wellness journey, or maybe is re-evaluating what kinds of health changes they are trying to make. If you need a diet tracker, or exercise plan, this is going to be less helpful. However, if you are trying to change the way we look at wellness, this is a great place to start.

Side Note: I love the visual design of this app, which is a weird cross between Zen and an episode of Fixer Upper (I love all of the designs at Target, y’all).

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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 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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Tech News

Hardware tokens are what folks serious about avoiding hackers use

(TECH) Hardware tokens have been around for a while, but people most serious about avoiding hackers swear by them.

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How many passwords do you have? How many sites do you use each of your passwords for? Information Today research estimates over half of all adults have five or more unique passwords, while one in three adults have 10 or more unique passwords that have to be remembered.

This particular study was from 2012. I’d wager that most of us use many more passwords today than we did just six years ago. With the risk of your accounts being hacked increasing, you might be wary – you might not even trust an online password manager.

If you struggle with remembering all of your passwords and want to make sure you are managing passwords and protecting your accounts, you might want to consider a hardware token.

What is a hardware token?

This piece of hardware is a physical device, similar to a USB drive, that lets you gain access to an electronically restricted resource. It’s actually a simple two-factor authentication source.

Once your account is set up to accept the hardware token, you log in to the account with your user ID and password. You’ll be asked to insert the hardware token into the device, which gives you access to your account. It’s another layer of protection and authentication.

Hardware tokens have been on the market since 2002. Although many use the USB port on your device, Bluetooth tokens and smart cards are other types of hardware tokens. Setting up a hardware token is fairly easy. You can use your hardware token with most websites that have two-factor authorization.

The challenges with hardware tokens is that they are very easy to lose and can easily be stolen. That’s a pretty significant downside.

The YubiKey, one of the current offerings on the market, costs about $50. It could be expensive to have a hardware token for everyone in your organization. Google Titan, another brand of hardware key, costs about the same.

Some argue that not everyone needs this much security, but those people probably have never been hacked. If it protects your accounts, it might be worth taking a look.

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