Startup Focused On Diversifying Tech Industry Opens In Manchester | New Hampshire Public Radio

Startup Focused On Diversifying Tech Industry Opens In Manchester

Jul 30, 2020

Credit Courtesy of Geno Miller

A startup dedicated to closing the racial wealth gap has just opened an office in Manchester's Millyard.

Shtudy is a New Hampshire-based company, started by two UNH grads, that connects Black, Latinx, and Native American software engineers to high-paying jobs in the tech industry. Geno Miller, the CEO and co-founder of Shtudy, joined NHPR's All Things Considered Host Peter Biello to talk about his new company. 

So what gave you the idea to start this company?

Really, it’s just the way I grew up. Being from Washington D.C., there were a lot of challenges that I had to overcome. Violence, and guns, and drugs, and things of that sort. So what it really takes to overcome those things is focus on the positive. You know, school, focusing on sports, having mentors and guidance to help me cultivate the characteristics and the personality traits, such as grit and determination and focus. That's really what it took to make it up.

And I was fortunate to make it out. But unfortunately, I also have friends who didn’t. So that really is what set me on this journey of how can I empower other people who were coming from similar backgrounds as myself to have opportunities to create wealth for themselves and really just have another option, have a way out.

Well, describe how Shtudy does empower those people who you feel need to be empowered. How does it do it?

Yeah, sure thing. So Shtudy is a career matchmaking platform that technically screens, trains and connects top software engineers of color, specifically black, Latinx and Native American young talent. And it connects them with companies who are looking to increase diversity, inclusion and equity within their workforces. Everything we do as a company is to bridge the racial wealth gap in America, and we feel like tech jobs is the most efficient and effective way of doing that.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the training element? Because it sounds like learning to be in tech, learning to be a software engineer might take a lot of training for someone who didn't already go to school for that. So what kind of training do you provide?

Yeah, so we do require candidates who come to our platform to at least have some sort of software or engineering experience beforehand, whether that be a coding bootcamp, two or four year university or even a self-taught course online due to, you know, everyone going remote right now. The training that we provide is additional skill sets that may be required to effectively qualify for the jobs that they're most interested in. So we essentially fill those skills gaps.

Why New Hampshire? Why is New Hampshire the place to do this?

New Hampshire to me is where I found the most opportunity and where I also have a connection to make a difference. I played football at the University of New Hampshire. It’s also where I started to study and where I really fell in love with trying to solve this issue. I feel like the state of New Hampshire is also behind the mission of trying to cultivate young talent, young, diverse talent and bring that to the state. This is the place to lead that charge.

And are you trying to connect people of color with tech opportunities in New Hampshire or just anywhere specifically New Hampshire?

We want to start in New Hampshire, but all of this is a global solution. But our focus right now is primarily, primarily in the New England area.

Shtudy, as you mentioned, is hoping to double the number of people in color currently in tech jobs from nine percent to 18 percent. Companies, individual companies often have diversity goals to some of them assign certain numbers to those goals. Some of them do not. I'm wondering what you think about those goals that the companies may have and whether or not it's concerning that a company may just, you know, try to reach that internal goal to check a box without making a deeper commitment as a company to a diverse and supportive workplace culture?

That is a great question, and the number one thing that we do to make sure that doesn't happen is we thoroughly vet every company that we work with. We ask them first and foremost, what efforts have they already been making in the past to improve this issue? What does their executive board look like?

Every company may not have a person of color on their executive board, but if the effort is also been made there, that says a lot, or if they do have a person of color on their executive board that says a lot with regard to retention for our candidates when they get there. We draw correlations between those questions and what their vision is for the future of the company as well. So that's a bit about how we do that.

I see. And going forward, how can tech companies or any company really make sure that that people of color feel supported in their work environment?

Number one thing is it has to be a buy-in from the entire company. There are a lot of times where there may be hiring teams within organizations who fully, or even just single recruiters or sources within organizations, who fully believe that who fully buy into the benefits of diversity and inclusion and just stand by it as a whole. But without company buy-in, the proper programs in the proper resources can't be distributed amongst the organization from the higher ups in the C-level folks that are necessary to really make a thorough impact.

And a lot of times diversity, equity and inclusion is looked at as an all size fits one type of thing, and that is not the case. Black people need certain resources that are different than white people, and Latin people need things that are different than Black people, and Native Americans as well. You know, so it really does require full company buying in for it really to be effective.