This week we will be putting what we’ve learned the last two weeks to practice! Creating an app empowers you to become a UX designer, a marketer, a project manager and a leader!
In addition to all the marketing, graphic design, programming, and content creation activities that take place when you create an app, you are learning the power of brainstorming and social entrepreneurship!
The tutorials in this weeks lesson teach you how to build an app. You will need a code.org account to proceed with some of the activities. Click the button below to start week 3!
This week we will be learning about Computational Thinking which is a fancy way of saying problem solving.
In this week’s lesson you will learn how to identify the important details to solve a problem, break down the problem into logical steps and create a process that solves the problem. You’ll also be introduced to topics around user experience and design thinking.
Computational thinking is an important 21st century skill which children need to start developing at an early age. You will be better prepared to thrive in a technology-filled world as conscious and critical students, working individuals and citizens.
COVID-19 has taken us by storm. Our first article covering COVID -19 was posted on March 22nd. On that day Wisconsin had reached ~381 confirmed cases and 4 deaths. Today there are 3,555 confirmed cases and 170 confirmed deaths.. Of these numbers Milwaukee County has 2,040 cases and 114 deaths. That’s ~57% of the Wisconsin’s cases and 67% of total deaths in Wisconsin. .
When you take a closer look at Milwaukee County where the population is 38% Black, you’ll find that the percentage of the counties COVID-19 deaths are 53% Black . Black people are being disproportionately impacted by this virus. Why?
It is a well known fact that there are significant disparities between the Black and White population in Milwaukee. Scholars have deemed racism to be one of the significant causes. In a recent article Reggie shared that research studies of Dr. David Williams, an expert on public health, show that “Increasing evidence indicates that racial discrimination is an emerging risk factor for disease and a contributor to racial disparities in healthcare”
Milwaukee has been labeled systemically dangerous for Black people. In 2019 County Executive Chris Abele declared racism as a public health crisis. Governor Tony Evers has been quoted saying that the impact the virus is having on Milwaukee County is a crisis within a crisis.
As COVID-19 continues to take a toll on Milwaukee and disproportionately affects people of color we need to answer the following questions:
What is the government communication strategy to reach its most vulnerable communities?
How are resources being equitably allocated to effectively address this crisis?
How are COVID-19 tests made accessible to vulnerable populations in Milwaukee?
How do we hold each other accountable to keeping each other safe as a community?
Suggestions on How to Flatten the Curve.
We need community members (residents of Milwaukee) to be an active part of the decision making process alongside government officials
Effective communication strategy to bring awareness to the importance of staying at home.
Create and effective logistics plan for retail shopping to minimize COVID-19 exposure.
Leverage technology to identify vulnerable communities.
A close tracking of the health of those who were forced to risked their health to exercise their right to vote in the April 7th election.
Current Technology Solutions Addressing COVID-19 in Milwaukee:
Milky Way Tech Hub COVID-19 Chatbot
The Milky Way Tech Hub is working hard to address the health disparities in vulnerable communities as a result of COVID-19. The organization has created a chatbot accessible from facebook to bring more awareness to resources around COVID-19 and to address the recent health risks of April 7th election.
Here’s How You Can Help:
Team is in need of people to help get the word out about the chatbot
Team is looking for more resources to be added to the chatbot workflow
Code for Milwaukee has identified 5 major projects that will help the citizens of the greater Milwaukee area to stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Presented here are those 5 major projects, plus suggestions on how you can help.
The Milwaukee Department of Health is looking to create a responsive web communication platform and notification system to help provide information to Milwaukeeans about health alerts and news.
The goal of Health Platform is to allow individuals to quickly read notifications from DoH from their email, or SMS device. This platform would be utilized to help distribute information to citizens in Milwaukee.
Here’s How You Can Help:
This team is looking for developers who can help set up an AWS environment to install a headless wordpress install and integrate it with AWS sns for message distribution. They may also need content creators and designers to help refactor information to best suit user needs.
There is a growing need to push stories to help ensure individuals understand the gravity of the COVID-19 and those impacted by it. It’s also extremely important to share inspiring stories about what people are doing/building out to help one another.
Storytelling is a powerful tool when you need to create impact. By connecting the audience with relatable stories we can bridge gaps and understanding to help fight against COVID-19.
Here’s How You Can Help:
This team is in need of creatives and experts in video and storytelling to help us get the word out on COVID. From washing hands to celebrating the local heros. The more we can inform individuals through storytelling the great chances we have of flattening the curve.
WeCountCovid19.com is an online survey that people can use to report symptoms when they are sick, regardless of whether they have received a coronavirus test.
The goal is to reach every person in the US who is potentially infected with coronavirus. This is incredibly important because it will help to inform what we need to do, and we lack the test kits for this information.
Current status of the project:
Survey is up and collecting data!
The team is waiting on final confirmation that they can proceed with data analysis
They are currently working on a pipeline to get raw survey data into published analysis on the website
Here’s How You Can Help:
There is a need for people who are familiar with how to solve the problem of getting raw Qualtrics data into analysts’ hands, refreshed every day
There is a need for people to maintain the website with new daily analysis updates
This team is also looking for more data analysts, especially people good with creating geographical maps (preferred R or maybe Python)
There is also a need to translate the survey into spanish or other foreign languages, and help adding this feature to the website
This app is your guide to local restaurants, retailers, artists and how to support them.
Milwaukee businesses and the thousands of people they employ are in distress. In an effort to assist our neighbors and curb the number of business closures, the MKE Strong app will highlight the myriad of different resources, charitable funds, business offerings, etc… available to those Milwaukee’s ready and willing to support their community.
Current status of the project:
The app is up and running with over 300 listings.
Next steps are to expand the number of listings and user reach.
Here’s How You Can Help:
To enhance business listing growth this team needs volunteers to add more businesses and help make sure businesses know they can submit/edit their listing.
To expand user and email subscriber growth. We need more people to do manual outreach to share this with their friends, family, employer, and moves/shakers in the community.
Quentin Allums, the man they call Q is at the intersection of sociology, business, virtual experience and storytelling. Traditionalists beware, he’s constantly performing experiments behind closed doors and looking for new ways to push the envelope.
“We all have clusters, you just have to identify yours, so you’re not focused on somebody else’s. It’s the difference between playing offense and constantly on the defensive.”
-Quentin Allums on how to be successful
The self-professed mad scientist, is constantly in the lab with the data from all of his areas of interest using the vivid memory of being laughed at before the accolades and success as motivation. He recalled one moment in particular where he was describing a virtual reality platform he was working on to utilize as an innovative form of education and was openly mocked and ridiculed for having such audacity. It still fascinates him to witness how he now has people lined up to speak with him about his ideas.
Quentin is well known for his videos on Linkedin and being a co-founder of Urban Misfits Ventures. Urban Misfit Ventures is a video company with a focus on community. They help brands, companies, and people build influence & generate leads through strategy and compelling videos. The key to their success thus far has been their focus on authenticity.
This was my second time sitting down with, Q, (the first on behalf of the Milky Way Tech Hub) and one of the many things I admire is his direct manner. Q is very genuine in communicating his ideas and belief system. When discussing Milwaukee he shared, “Milwaukee lacks narrative. “We need to lean into becoming a Smart City versus channeling all of our energy towards trying to be a tech ecosystem.” He shared the importance of being creative in order to catch up with cities that are much further along in the process.
Q also emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion as it relates to developing a city that attracts and retains young and innovative people. Creating a culture that embraces all backgrounds seems to be a priority of Urban Misfit Ventures. His advice to those working in a toxic environment where diversity and inclusion are not celebrated is to find a niche within the company and find a sweet spot where you can thrive but if that can’t be made to work simply leave. Of course, he understands it’s not that simple for everybody when it comes to employment but he advises to prepare for the moment it does.
`Q is very strategic when it comes to partnerships and collaborations, through experience he’s learned to only sign on when it makes business sense for both companies. However, he is always willing to help and share contacts from his network. He would be more than willing to partner with the Milkyway Tech Hub if there was a project presented that both teams could benefit from. Most importantly, he expressed interest in being a lifetime ally in the push for diversity and inclusion, those early experiences of discrimination and ridicule will never fade and he wants the playing field to be level for dream chasers, entrepreneurs and misfits. To learn more about Quentin Allums give him a follow on his Linkedin, IG or Twitter below.
I recently had the honor of having an amazing conversation with Geek of all Trades, Keisha Howard, founder of Sugar Gamers and 2x TEDx speaker. Howard started Sugar Gamers as a community for female gamers, which has evolved into a diverse organization within the worlds of technology, gaming, and the arts. Sugar Gamers is dedicated to putting a focus on new and diverse voices in gaming and tech.
Serene Mireles: I’d love to hear more about you. What is your origin story?
Keisha Howard: Well, even though I’ve been a gamer since I was 10 years old, and my brothers always got games, I wasn’t socialized to understand that the video game industry was a place that I could have an opportunity or a career in. I ended up going into real estate development right out of college. During the last recession in 2008–2009 is when I actually started Sugar Gamers, because everything that I worked for at that particular time in the real estate industry completely dissolved. So the directions you receive as a young person—you go to school, work really hard, and work your way up, really did not factor into my life at that particular time. So it let me actually think about what I am passionate about and interested in, and Sugar Gamers just became that thing that I accidentally sort of fell into as a as a founder.
Mireles: What inspired you to get into gaming?
Howard: I have all brothers. I’m the only girl in my family, and my brothers always received those types of toys or entertainment. They were my best friends, and they were my playmates. If I wanted to play, a lot of times I had to play video games. So, initially, I didn’t start off thinking that video games were for me, because they’re for boys—I’m a girl. This was in the early 90s, so the landscape is a little bit different now than it was for me when video games were first becoming popular. We had Gameboy and Super Nintendo, and my older brother used to actually kind of improve my reading skills by making me play role playing games. He would make me play a game called Final Fantasy two, and then he would make me read all the girl parts out loud. Then we played Street Fighter and he would always beat me. I’d get so frustrated that I started to become good at the game just so I could win. The pleasure that comes from competing and winning and honing your skills is definitely something that kept me in the space. I’ve always liked games better than I like TV. I’m an avid reader, so as a kid I would always read books. Video games were sort of the next level of engagement. Instead of passively just consuming media, you are actually controlling a character, which controls the narrative that you’re part of. That’s how I fell in love with games, but understanding and deconstructing the business of video games wasn’t until later when I started Sugar Gamers.
Video games were sort of the next level of engagement. Instead of passively just consuming media, you are actually controlling a character, which controls the narrative that you’re part of. That’s how I fell in love with games
Mireles: What is Sugar Gamers and how did it start?
Howard: Sugar Gamers is a media tech company. The website and its platform has evolved since it first started. The catalyst for it was I was supposed to be on a TV show on the SyFy channel called Ultimate Gamer. I flew out to California, and at the time in 2008, there weren’t any black women that signed up for this particular show, so they really wanted me to diversify their cast. A series of events happened, and ultimately they said that I wasn’t good enough to be on the show. I came back to Chicago angry—like why isn’t there an organization that meets in person, that plays games socially, that’s not all about Call of Duty or Halo or something super competitive and hardcore that has women, and that has people of color, all at the same time? It has to exist, right? It just has to exist. This is not an original idea. It has to exist. And I looked for about a year, but at the time in 2008–2009, there was no other community that existed like the one I created with Sugar Gamers. So I put an ad in Craigslist. I thought I might get 5-10 people, but I ended up getting almost 100 emails. There was something very interesting about how people would reach out. The women were like, “What you’re doing sounds cool, but I can’t play games,” or “I like games, but only play Tetris,” or “I would just like to watch.” It was sort of “I want to be a part of it, but I’m scared, because I’m not good at games.” It was a very interesting idea to me at the time. When we started having events, and starting seeing how liberating it was for women to be around other women, just talking about games and talking about Geek culture, and it being a warm and supportive environment, I realized that there was something here that I found in the void—something that was missing that Sugar Gamers could be a solution to. It’s grown and evolved since then. Now it’s no longer just women, but a collective of people who have the same mission of inclusivity.
When we started having events, and starting seeing how liberating it was for women to be around other women, just talking about games and talking about Geek culture, and it being a warm and supportive environment, I realized that there was something here that I found in the void—something that was missing that Sugar Gamers could be a solution to.
Mireles: Can you speak to you why this work is important to you, and what your hope is for the impact of Sugar Gamers?
Howard: This work is important, because video games are so much more than entertainment. Video games are STEM. So many different demographics of people have been socialized to believe that video games are just entertainment, which diminishes the power of this industry. It’s a $200 billion revenue-generating industry that has very few diverse executive sort of people. The consumers are diverse, but people who make games and own video game studios are typically not representative of the consumer base. That’s interesting to me, because therein lies an opportunity that needs to be included in this STEM conversation. Everyone’s talking about coding and programming, but no one is looking at video games foundationally as a place where people will be inspired to learn about it in the first place, which is astounding to me. I’m screaming into the ether, because my peers, the same peers that I grew up with, have been socialized to believe that video games are not necessarily for them, that they’re not a serious industry, that it’s just entertainment. People don’t understand that there is lots of money to be made, and lots of opportunities. Even if you’re not coding or programming, video games offer the same amount of jobs and the diversity of jobs, like the movie industry. Everybody wants to work in the movie industry, so why would you not talk about video games in that same way? Being in the video game industry, you learn even more productive skills that you can use in almost any tech field. Every app has some gamification element to keep people incentivized to use the app. If you understand gaming intrinsically, as a consumer, you can take that same skill set and actually learn something that is going to be productive to a job. In the future of automation and robots, and artificial intelligence, why wouldn’t you use any tool at your disposal to get people ready to transition their skill set? So that’s why it’s important to me, and also it’s fun!
Video games are STEM. So many different demographics of people have been socialized to believe that video games are just entertainment, which diminishes the power of this industry. It’s a $200 billion revenue-generating industry that has very few diverse executive sort of people. The consumers are diverse, but people who make games and own video game studios are typically not representative of the consumer base.
Mireles: How do you think diversity betters the gaming industry and tech field?
Howard: I truly believe in diversity as the real definition of it. I’ve been in spaces where diversity just means “other”—you’re a black person, you know about diversity, or you’re woman, or you’re from the LGBTQ community. That’s not necessarily what diversity means. It means to gather all types of different people, different perspectives, and different backgrounds, because we can only learn so much through the lens of our own personal experiences. We need other people who are going to come from different backgrounds to bring their perspective, so we can create more universally compelling products, so we can create products that are more sensitive to a larger audience. Ultimately, if you’re able to create universally compelling products, then your bottom line should increase. Diversity is the word that we’re using to tackle the problem, but the solution to it is that you wouldn’t even necessarily have to talk about it anymore. It will be reflected through the products and the services that are created, that are going to reach a larger audience organically and naturally, because you have so many different types of people being able to contribute their story, their their narrative. I think it’s just smarter.
We have so many conversations about diversity, inclusion being this thing, and we create so many safe spaces around it. It is starting, in my opinion, to lose some of the impact. If you talk about how results are improved from diverse teams, then people will start feeling better about implementing practices for long term gain. At the end of the day diversity inclusion is fiscally responsible. Of course as a black woman I have emotional feelings about it. When I see spaces that don’t include me, I absolutely want to fight to be included, and that’s from my personal experience, but from an objective point of view, why wouldn’t I want to create a product that not only appeals to me but to everyone else?
I feel like Sugar Gamers is a blueprint of what it means to have a diverse team. There are so many things that I’ve learned from the people on my team. Even though I’m the founder of the company, I am only as strong as what my team members are contributing. We’ve done some amazing things with the power of a diverse team. From my experience, I know it works. I just want to offer what I’ve done to attract people organically and to have them loyal to our brand. I want to share that blueprint, so other companies can start utilizing it, instead of just pandering to the types of people that they’re lacking. It took me 10 years to learn the skills, to gain the experience, investing, learning the things that I needed to learn working at the tech companies that give me the relevant and skills. When the conversation is just about me being a black woman, which is something that was born into, it completely diminishes all the hard work I’ve done to create the company that I created, and to have expertise that I have. At some point we have to move past these parts of conversation, and understand this should be natural, and begin making these amazing products that come from having diverse perspectives.
Even though I’m the founder of the company, I am only as strong as what my team members are contributing. We’ve done some amazing things with the power of a diverse team.
Mireles: What has helped you achieve success on your journey?
Howard: Two things! First the contributions of my team and the support of my friends and family. Though, being an entrepreneur in this space is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, I’ve always had people around that believed in me and what I was trying to accomplish. At my lowest points, even a genuine words of encouragement has allowed me to continue pressing forward.
The second is my commitment to keep learning. I’ve had to continuously learn new skills in order to stay on top of the exponentially advancing world of tech and video games. Being knowledgeable allowed me the confidence to stay motivated.
Mireles: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Howard: Entrepreneurship is NOT for everyone. Depending on the resources you have access to—it can be incredibly challenging and taxing to your mental and physical health. So for those that are aspiring entrepreneurs, be certain you have the commitment, fortitude, and discipline required to make the sacrifices needed to meet your goals.
Mireles: I did an interview for the blog with Que El-Amin, one of the founders of Young Enterprising Society, and something he said really stood out to me, “We don’t want to have 1,000 tech organizations and still not be a tech hub. We need to make sure we’re working with each other, not against each other.” Do you have any ideas around how organizations can collaborate to work toward the vision of the Milky Way Tech Hub?
Howard: Most of us are accustomed to environments where some level of competition is considered normal. That competitive mindset keeps people from putting in the time and effort to form alliances to accomplish goals. People are more focused on not “losing” to their competitor. However, when organizations have shared missions, being intentional about collaboration means there can be an outcome where everyone wins. It’s difficult, but if we could all worry less about who gets the credit, and focus more on the success of a shared vision—we then expand our support systems, teams, and knowledge base.
To learn more about Keisha Howard and Sugar Gamers, visit: https://sugargamers.com/ or follow @sugargamers on social media.
The Milky Way Tech for Good Pitch Out gives early stage startups an opportunity to pitch in front of their community, compete with their peers for funding and for the Milky Way Tech Hub community to rally around early stage startups.
Date and time:
Come enjoy an amazing pitch competition featuring tech start-ups in the Milky Way Tech Hub during Startup Milwaukee Week!
This pitch competition will bring leading entrepreneurs to The Milky Way Tech Hub – Milwaukee’s diverse tech ecosystem with the goal of supporting, empowering, and providing new and equitable funding opportunities to these entrepreneurs.
The event will be held November 16th at 88nine Radio 6pm-8pm. The Seven finalist will pitch their ideas to the judges and the crowd, competing for first, second and third place. First prize winner will be awarded $10,000 and consulting from Morpheus Advisors LLC.
Hope’s AI powered technology makes it easy for women to connect with doctors, counselors or holistic wellness practitioners and helps them each step of the way. Through messenger, Hope befriends and subtly educates, empowers and supports victims of abuse. https://www.hopewithyou.com/
StyleQ is a mobile marketplace that connects users to beauty and wellness professionals, instantly. Using StyleQ, users request services from a selected professional with one tap of a button. https://www.bookstyleq.com/
Minorities to Majorities is a mobile app based platform designed to help under-represented students calculate and fill their financial needs by connecting them with opportunities, without the barriers. http://minoritiestomajorities.com/
DisasterMed is a software platform that identifies acute medical needs of disaster victims in real-time and by location. This is accessible by relief agencies and government entities simultaneously, allowing for efficient logistical decisions.
Traditional outreach has depended upon grassroots volunteering, which can be inconsistent. Businesses with large sales teams have expensive overhead costs to hire employees to get the results needed. Our solution connects people to causes using crowd sourcing and reduces overhead costs for businesses by using the app to pay canvassers to go to neighborhoods and businesses.
Secure Bridges is a security app to collect human trafficking data as well as city to city resources and youth profiles to end the local sex trade of children in the Milwaukee area. Secure Bridges raises awareness and promotes advocacy through strategic partnerships.
LifeTagger is a messaging platform that allows you to share content based on your proximity to any person, place, thing, or idea. LifeTagger allows you to add more context to your message by leveraging all the signals your phone is currently detecting. The platform allows you to send messaging in the best context (time, location, audio, bluetooth, wifi) for your intended recipient.
Big Thank you to Presenting Partner of The Milky Way Tech Hub American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact for making this event possible.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with the amazingly talented, Tania Dsouza, Creative Technology Director/Entrepreneur in Residence at BVK. Dsouza holds a Master’s in Innovation from Cranfield, U.K., and a Master’s in Technology from Touro in New York. She is driven by purpose to help people, and solve problems through innovation and emerging technology.
Serene Mireles: Tell me about yourself. You have a long, impressive career history. How did you get started?
Tania Dsouza: I started out in the advertising space. I have a lot of brand experience. I worked with some big agencies in the beginning years of my life, from Ogilvy, Young & Rubicam, to MKTG in Dubai, India. Then I moved on from print and packaging design to experiential and media marketing in Dubai. I changed careers and I did my Master’s in innovation. I did a little bit of entrepreneurship, engineering, design history, business, and that’s where I kind of got into design, user experience, human centered design, human interaction, product innovation—everything innovation—UX innovation. Not UX just for web, but product.
Then I went into event design—events and experiences and festivals in India. I did an event like Coachella. I created the concept for the event. It was a lifestyle and social festival in India, so creating the intellectual property for the agency, curating it, designing the presentation, putting a business-product mindset to it as well. I created it like a brand, and then pitched that and marketed it to sponsors and brands.
I also saw that I had a gap with understanding technology, so I did a Master’s in Technology in New York. That’s where I learned web development, and I did back end development as well, so I know database management and SQL. I don’t actually code, but I studied it, so now I understand it.
At my company I’m an entrepreneur in residence. I develop products and intellectual properties for our clients. I’m also a designer, so I design the user experience, and I do a little bit of everything when we develop products. My main job is to support the creative. We do advertising campaigns. We come up with a platform, and then I support with experiential ideas wether it’s AR/VR or voice. How do you bring the idea to life through interactivity? I know a little about artificial intelligence, blockchain, personalization, any kind of new technology, emerging technology—that’s my job. I educate the agency on emerging technologies. It’s very difficult to teach somebody about new technology, but if I have an idea, and I can demo it, it’s so much easier for them to understand the tool, and then they can understand how to make it.
Sometimes you have to be bold and step out.
Mireles: What is your passion, and how do you live your Why?
Dsouza: I really love entrepreneurship. I love coming up with new ideas and solutions, and seeing the ideas come to life. I’m really passionate about innovation and solving problems, and I’m passionate about the people in Milwaukee. How do we solve the problem of segregation, what idea can I bring to the table, how can I help support or bridge some gaps? That’s where my heart is and my long-term goal.
I love expressing creativity through technology. That’s what I do in my job. Entrepreneurship comes naturally to me, and they encourage it at my job, so I really like that. I love coming up with ideas, and when someone else is like “we can use this,” and we can work together, and we can solve this problem—I love that—it makes me very happy. I feel very energized sharing ideas. I don’t have to get credit for it. I love collaborating and brainstorming!
My main strength is ideation, and the other is strategic thinking, so just being around people, and seeing solutions come off, like a very startup mindset. How do you cut through the clutter of traditional thinking and bring new, fresh thinking? Like, why do we have to do it that way? I like to look to other industries, look at user behavior, understand how people behave in a specific area, and bring that same behavior into different products. How do people behave, and how can we build the technology to match people’s behavior?
It’s easier to work this way instead of copying how it’s always been done, then we’ll never have change. Sometimes you have to be bold and step out.
I don’t pursue success, I pursue purpose. How can I add value to the people around me? How do I impact the people around me?
Mireles: What has helped you achieve success?
Dsouza: That’s a really simple answer. It’s personal, but I just think my faith in God. Im a Christian, I love Jesus. He’s been the one that has brought me through everything, and I learn, and I grow. I feel like it’s how you look at things. There’s going to be good that comes out of everything. That mindset helps you to not think about past, or anything that is wrong with your past—you can actually move forward. I feel like that’s something that I treasure, and I feel like I’ve grown in that.
I don’t pursue success, I pursue purpose. How can I add value to the people around me? How do I impact the people around me? If I can grow emotionally, and the people around me are thriving, then that’s good. I feel like that’s my purpose. That’s why I want to help the city of Milwaukee. What can I do to solve problems. I want to be an instrument wherever I can. I’m not really pursuing success. That’s how I walk. Even at my job, it’s never like “that’s not my job. I’m not going to do it.” Integrity and being ethical, I feel, contributes to the result—you are reaping what you are sowing, and good comes out of that. That’s how I pursue success.
I look for wise people and try to walk with them, so I can learn from them and grow.
Mireles: Have you had any mentors or a support system along the way?
Dsouza: I have mentors, and people that I look up to—like all the women in my life that I want to be like. I want to grow into a better mom, or a director, or a better colleague. I’m not perfect, I like reading my Bible, and I look for wise people and try to walk with them, so I can learn from them and grow.
Mireles: There are a lot of diversity gaps in tech in Milwaukee, and across the whole field. How do you think diversity betters the tech field?
Dsouza: I’ve traveled so much. I’ve worked with all nationalities. You realize that everyone is different from you, and everyone has their own opinions, and it’s okay. When you’re in a team, and it’s not a diverse team, you’re not used to having someone different, so there’s a barrier of not being able to connect with other people. It’s going to be difficult for you to connect with somebody if you’re not used to being around people who are different from you. There is a breakdown in that basic human connection. We’re not able to understand each other’s jokes, we’re not able to connect, we’re not able to laugh together. It’s really difficult to work together. There are so many barriers to share ideas. When you can experience diverse thinking, and diverse people—all nationalities, you get so used to being around one another that you don’t even notice that you’re different. When you have diverse perspectives, you have better ideas, you can all work better together, and it’s so much easier to get stuff done.
Mireles: You share a lot of the same goals as Jet Constellations and the Milky Way Tech Hub Initiative. We’re working to transform Milwaukee into a tech hub that represents the city’s diverse population. How do you think you can contribute to this initiative?
Dsouza: It’s so easy to connect people together who share a common interest. I love connecting people. I think that would be a really good way to get people together, unify people, and enjoy one another. How can we be more inclusive, how can we design for different people, how do we connect with people differently? I just want to help and solve wherever I can!
Jet Constellations and The Milky Way Tech Hub welcome the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact (the Institute) in a partnership to build new startups and drive diversity and inclusion in the Southeast Wisconsin tech scene.
The Institute is a
venture capital firm and partner of choice for exceptional entrepreneurs who
are building scalable, sustainable businesses in a long-term effort to close
equity gaps in America. Its investments focus on four main areas: resilient
communities; learning and academic achievement; healthy youth development; and
economic opportunity, which includes working with formerly incarcerated people.
The Institute builds on American Family Insurance’s commitment to engage with
communities to solve some of society’s challenges through public and private
The Institute is headquartered in Spark, AmFam’s newest building in
downtown Madison, which is dedicated to innovation, collaboration and
entrepreneurship. The state-of-the art building represents American Family’s
investment in Wisconsin, and will serve as home for the company’s digital
transformation, venture capital and community investment efforts. Spark is also
home to DreamBank and StartingBlock Madison (SBM), an entrepreneurial center
for start-up companies and established entrepreneurs to share knowledge, skills
and professional assistance. The Spark Building houses investors, engineers,
and startups all under one roof.
“As Milwaukee’s startup community grows it is critical that our ecosystem is a reflection of Milwaukee’s diverse population. We are thrilled to have the support of the AmFam Institute as this is the type of corporate leadership and commitment necessary to make sustainable progress.”
—Nadiyah Johnson, Founder of Jet Constellations
The Institute will work with partners like Jet Constellations to bring
forward startups that might not have had opportunities for funding in the past.
We will support startups as they develop their teams, customers and products
with the goal of creating jobs and positive social impact, amongst many
different success metrics. The Institute is investing in startups nationally
and locally in Wisconsin, and is looking at the Milky Way Tech Hub as a way to
source new startups from Milwaukee.
“While an end goal is to create and fund great startups that take off from
the Milky Way Tech Hub, we know they all won’t succeed,” said John McIntyre, an
investment director at the AmFam Institute.
“However, the experience gained by the entrepreneurs is tremendous, so
the next time they try a startup, the chances greatly increase that they will
succeed. So it’s both those things—great
startups, and the experience people get to go through in a program like this,
to really teach them about entrepreneurship.”
McIntyre believes that for the next wave of startups to create great
products and services, they need to be reflective of the population as a whole.
He said to be innovative, startups have to have teams that reflect the
population. These diverse teams bring new ideas and new ways of looking at
things that teams that are not diverse don’t have. McIntyre believes that this
is going to be a real awakening in Milwaukee, to see diversity in startups not
only at its starting stages, but to see companies take off in the next several
McIntyre said there are a number of major companies in Milwaukee and Wisconsin that realize they need to do much more. McIntyre encouraged them to put resources and money to work to address these issues. He said there are a number of cities around the country who have turned things around and built an inclusive ecosystem, and that this partnership will help the Milky Way Tech Hub both retain and attract entrepreneurs and diverse tech talent in Milwaukee.
“It’s not easy. It takes time, it takes money, it takes dedication
from multiple organizations, and there will probably be mistakes made, but you
can’t give up, you’ve got to keep trying,” said McIntyre. “I can envision a day
in some years where there’s a thriving ecosystem of startups and tech startups,
and Milwaukee becomes a really hot spot for a very diverse set of people.”
Jet Constellations is also excited to announce partnerships with Brilliance Business Solutions, and Office of Violence Prevention and Heal the Hood MKE. These partnerships will help continue to empower the Milky Way Tech Hub Initiative, ensuring that Milwaukee’s tech scene mirrors its diverse population.