Some major corporations say they have trouble finding, recruiting and retaining minority candidates. So Porter Braswell and Ryan Williams came up with Jopwell which is a platform that lets companies connect with and recruit minority candidates for internships and jobs. Launched in August 2014, Jopwell helps companies market their internships, job opportunities and programs to Jopwells minority users Black, Latin/Hispanic, and Native American. The New York-based corporation is already being used by such companies and organizations as varied as Goldman Sachs, Facebook, and Teach for America.
Braswell and Williams believe so much in the company, they left their high-powered Wall Street jobs to launch it. We met as analysts on the same Wall Street trading floor and quickly became friends. Both of our careers in finance had started early, thanks to established diversity programs. I interned at an investment bank beginning in high school, and Ryan did the same in college, says Braswell, co-founder and CEO at Jopwell. We realized that these programs had provided us a unique opportunity to lay an early foundation for successful careers. But we also understood that the majority of other ambitious underrepresented ethnic minorities didnt have access to similar opportunities throughout their careers. So we started Jopwell to help others achieve career success through increased opportunity. Today, Jopwell helps leading companies find and recruit Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American professionals and students at scale.
The pair faced some challenges as they built Jopwell. When we first decided that we were going to start Jopwell, a lot of people told us we were too young or crazy to think we could launch and run a technology-driven recruitment platform without having worked in tech (or HR for that matter). But as we started talking more about our idea and fleshing it out with friends and mentors, we realized that we were uniquely positioned to address an important challenge, says Braswell.
And the two found support of their idea. We were fortunate to have some great relationships, but you have to be fearless enough to follow your passion and your vision, even when others tell you no. If you look in the right places, you can find people who will invest in you; but passion is a key driver of success, and that can comes from within, added Braswell. And there was support financially as well. We recently raised $3.25 million in seed funding from Magic Johnson Enterprises, Andreessen Horowitz, Kapor Capital, Valar Ventures, and Omidyar Network, among others. Prior to the seed round, we raised just over $1 million in angel investment from Y Combinator and Rothenberg Venture, says Braswell.
He adds, Beyond the financial support, these investors are our partners. They offer us guidance to effectively build Jopwell for the long-term. Having access to that–the right strategic partners who are committed to your mission–is so necessary for scaling an early stage business.
According to Braswell, one of the best aspects of Jopwell is that it empowers not just companies, but also the job seekers. He explains, Jopwell shrinks the diversity employment gap and helps underrepresented ethnic minority talent find jobs they love. The platform provides two-way empowerment for both companies and job seekers, delivering a pipeline of talent to fill a range of roles. Companies recruit for all sorts of roles– from experienced positions all the way to internshipsand across many industries, including technology, finance, healthcare, education, and more. And the process seems easy as well. Signing up is completely free, takes less than five minutes, and sets you up to discover different opportunities and get discovered by recruiters, says Braswell.
On the diversity front, Braswell says there has been some movement–and Jopwell is helping. There has definitely been some notable progress, and thats a start, but we need to continue investing in creating more diverse and inclusive workforces. Its no secret that we have a long way to go. We honestly look forward to the day when companies are diverse enough and opportunity is accessible enough that theres no longer a need for a tech platform with our current offerings. Many types of diversity should be a standard in every business and industry–it makes businesses better. But when we look at the employment numbers, were far away from that reality. We have to continue being proactive and introducing direct solutions to drive real change, he says.
He continues, Most companies at least the ones we are interacting with are the opposite of reluctant when it comes to recruiting more diverse candidates. Its just that so many of us rely on longstanding, ineffective practices to move the needle and truly build more diverse teams. Were excited to be introducing technology that helps overcome these obstacles and make diversity recruitment more effective and efficient for candidates and companies alike.