Tara Reed recently joined the Grand Circus team as our new Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR).
What is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence and why does Grand Circus have one?
An “Entrepreneur-in-Residence” is the tech community’s newest job title.
More and more, companies are adding entrepreneurs to their team because entrepreneurs often approach business problems in unique ways and cultivate innovation by bringing an outside perspective.
Tara led marketing initiatives at Microsoft, Foursquare and Google, before most recently launching her startup, Kollecto, which is like Match.com for affordable art.
Today, Tara’s taking over the blog to share her story and explain the work she’ll be doing at Grand Circus this year.
For those of you interested in entrepreneurship in Detroit, diversity, tech startups or even art (yup, we said art), here’s Tara!
First of all, I’m super excited to be partnering with the Grand Circus team this year.
My residency is sponsored by a handful of really awesome organizations, including Google for Entrepreneurs and Code2040.
For the next year, Grand Circus and I are specifically focusing on increasing the number of Black and Latino folks working in technical software roles in Detroit.
You might be thinking, ”Wait, I thought Detroit was already diverse.” And you’d be correct.
Detroit is 90% Black and Latino, but the larger tech community here doesn’t really reflect that.
This is a nation-wide problem, not just a Detroit problem. While Blacks and Latinos make up 28% of the U.S. population, 18% of computer science degree awardees, and only 9% of the national tech worker population.
My role at Grand Circus is to get innovative about the ways we shift those Detroit tech diversity numbers in an upward direction. And I’m not alone!
There are actually six other Entrepreneur-in-Residences across the country working on this issue simultaneously in cities like Durham, Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Nashville, etc.
And there are a few critical principles that all of us EIRs understand. For example, we all understand that:
It’s much easier to succeed when you have examples to model yourself after.
So for the first six months of my residency, I’m focused on highlighting stories of more than 100 amazing Black and Latino Detroiters working in tech.
Part of growing the broader Detroit tech community is establishing that it’s possible and normal to be a person of color in tech here.
We’ll then leverage these stories to execute a traveling panel series with the goal of inspiring others to gain interest in technology.
Along the way, I’ll also be scoping unique opportunities for Grand Circus ventures and programs to further serve this community.
I’ve been really impressed with Grand Circus’ commitment to diversity. It something we’re living, breathing and actively focusing on. If you take a look at our core values, you’ll see statements like “Detroit First” and “The tech industry should reflect the diversity of our community.” We fundamentally believe diversity is the smart and right thing to do.
There are tons of parallels between the diversity work I’m doing at Grand Circus and the work I do day to day running my startup.
In both scenarios, I’m identifying unique opportunities to serve and benefit underserved markets. At Grand Circus, I’m thinking about how we serve Blacks and Latinos interested in tech. And through my own startup, Kollecto, I’m thinking about how we serve everyday people who like art, but don’t have the $10,000+ budgets that most of the art market caters to.
Most people think about art as something inaccessible and only for rich people. Luckily that’s rapidly changing as owning art becomes accessible and affordable, and Kollecto is helping drive this change.
I built Kollecto as the first recommendation engine for affordable art ($100-$3000), and it’s been an awesome ride thus far.
We bootstrapped for the first few months.Then we got accepted into 500 Startups, which is a prestigious accelerator program in Silicon Valley. We’re lucky to have funding from awesome investors including Joanne Wilson, 500 Startups and JP Morgan.
I’m excited to keep you posted on the programs I’m launching at Grand Circus and through my own startup. But before I go, I’ll leave you with a few few rapid fire fun facts about me:
- Favorite Podcast: It’s a tie between Product Hunt Radio and Stuff You Missed in History Class
- Last book you read: Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook: How to tell your story in a noisy social world
- Most interesting person you follow on Twitter: @garychou
- Best TED talk you’ve ever seen: Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
- Favorite Quote: “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, then you’ve launched too late” – Reid Hoffman
Follow Tara at @TaraReed_ and stay posted on @GrandCircusCo for more blog posts from our EIR.
This blog is Part 2 in our blogging series on diversity in check. Want to read more? Check out Part 1: Decoding Diversity in Tech: A Practical Guide, by our CEO Damien Rocchi.