Startup Spotlight: The Tech Connection
Startup Spotlight: The Tech Connection
Meet Melissa James (CEO and Co-Founder) and Gareth Burrowes (Head of Product & Marketing and Co-Founder) of The Tech Connection, a recruitment platform focused on diversity hiring.
GH: What is The Tech Connection?
The Tech Connection is a recruitment platform focused on diversity hiring. We help companies make meaningful connections to engage and empower diverse talent through inclusive hiring techniques.
GH: What was your Eureka moment: how did The Tech Connection get started?
In the summer of 2014, tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Yahoo displayed their diversity numbers. The disappointing numbers showed that approximately 70 percent of the employees at these companies were male, and that in the U.S. tech field an estimated 61 percent were Caucasian, 30 percent were Asian, 3 percent were Latino and less than 2 percent were African-American.
GH: How did you build your team?
We built our team by identifying people who are excited about our mission. We built our team with folks who are energetic, curious and innovative.
GH: What is your company philosophy driving your company culture?
The Tech Connection is a fast-paced, dynamic, innovative and collaborative environment. We are dedicated to improving the success rates of underrepresented talent. We work want to inspire the next generation of future tech leaders.
GH: Startup life is full of failures and ‘make it work’ moments – can you identify how you bounced back from one of yours?
We had signed one of our biggest clients to date. At the exact moment we executed the contract, our small but nimble team fell apart. One person quit for another job, and two other had family health emergencies. I felt like, as a leader, I had not set my team up for success. We had an urgent requirement to deliver and really wanted to impress the client. So I had to recruit volunteers to help us execute this vision.
We recruited our additional friends and family to help us push through the deliverable. We all had to work through the holidays, and on weekends to get the deliverables to the client on time. There were a lot of sleepless nights. In fact, it caused heart palpitations for our founder. But, our small but mighty team pushed through and never gave up. We completed the deliverable ahead of schedule and the client was happy. It was the scariest moment in our development but a necessary pain point that taught us a lot about who we are and what we stand for. We always strive to make our customers happy and are relentless about getting it right.
GH: What did you learn from your first customers?
Our first customers highlighted that most companies did not know how to handle diversity. They struggle with where to start and therefore, do not have a specific person or team & budget set for diversity & inclusion within the company.
GH: What has the Boston ecosystem provided you?
We have had access to great accelerator programs. I really enjoyed going through the Smarter In the City accelerator that helps founders of color get started. It was a huge resource and helped kick start our business.
GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacking from your perspective?
The Boston ecosystem lacks diversity champions who are will to make the hard choices. People say they value diversity but not many want to put action behind it.
GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?
Worst advice ever given is that you shouldn’t tell people your business idea. That is a complete lie. You absolutely have to tell people about your business in order for customers and the community to know who you are.
The best advice is that, as founder you need to create a support network of other founders. This has drastically helped changed my stress levels and given us invaluable and quick advice that led to successful outcomes.
GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?
We worked with organizations such as Hack.Diversity and were able to place many diverse candidates who would have been usually looked passed in some of the most innovative companies in Boston, such as Carbonite, Vertex , Hubspot and Wayfair.
GH: What does the future hold for The Tech Connection?
We are moving to expand our services and online platform nationwide to help more diverse individuals find the jobs that they love no matter where they are.
Learn more about The Tech Connection!