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Nigerian Entrepreneur’s Startup Invests in the Next Generation of Black Engineers, Receives Funding from Top Incubator

1/4/16 -- San Francisco, CA -- Diversity advocate, Makinde Adeagbo poses for a portait in the USA Today offices in San Francisco on Monday, January 4. -- Photo by Martin E. Klimek, USA TODAY contract photographer ORG XMIT: MK 134270 Tech diversity b 01/4 [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

Photo by Martin E. Klimek, USA TODAY

Makinde Adeagbo worked as a Pinterest engineer before setting out to create his non-profit /dev/color, which acts as a support system for Black people working in tech. His organization has been added into the Y Combinator incubator program for this year.

Since 2005, Y Combinator has been helping fund new start-ups by granting $120,000 to the lucky companies. Since its inception, the incubator has awarded over 1,000 different organizations, including Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit, which are all now household names.

According to the company’s website, each start-up will move to “Silicon Valley for 3 months and get hands-on assistance with the ins and outs of their operation. Y Combinator will work intensively with them to get the company into the best possible shape and refine their pitch to investors.”

The incubator adds new companies two times a year, and every cycle ends with “Demo Day,” when the startups present their companies to an exclusive audience.

In regards to /dev/color, Adeagbo’s organization will enter the winter session of the program. The  Y Combinator incubator plans to tackle the diversity issue in tech by putting its money into companies that challenges the status quo.

“I wanted to give it a fair shot and grow /dev/color into something awesome, and that’s something I couldn’t do part-time,” he said. “The demand I have gotten for /dev/color exceeded what I would have guessed. There is clearly a need and there is clearly a spot to help a lot of people here.”

He credits his background for his passion, work ethic and drive. Adeagbo was born in Nigeria and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. From there, the entrepreneur studied and honed his talents in software engineering at MIT.

His company, which started last year, is based in Menlo Park, California. The company will provide mentors for young aspiring engineers and create a networking system for Black engineers in the tech industry already.

The A* Program is for professionals who will network with each other. According to the organization’s website, “We declare and share goals with one another, and then help our peers reach those goals by sharing experiences, leveraging [another person’s] networks, and holding one another accountable for reaching our goals. We form a community of support for each and every member. Then members are put into a peer exchange group with with 6-10 other peers who who at a similar stage in their careers.

The second program is the Beam Program that helps the younger generation of engineers in colleges and universities.

Being part of the Y Combinator incubator will bring Adeagbo closer to his goal of providing opportunities and coaching the next age of great Black engineers.

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