Black Enterprise — October 2013
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Tackling the Lack of Women in Tech

Kathryn Finney didn’t wait for permission to start her digital empire. Widely known as The Budget Fashionista, Finney has thrived in the technology space since her awardwinning blog debuted in 2003. The Yale University graduate took her passion for fashion and pursuit of afordable threads to the blogosphere, embracing the term blogger before it was cool to do so.

Her willingness to take a risk and provide a unique perspective to the space has landed Finney more than 15 million unique visitors to her site; more than 600 features in media outlets such as the New York Times; a book deal, How to Be a Budget Fashionista (Ballantine Books/Random House); the position of editor-at-large at BlogHer, and a bevy of consulting and public speaking gigs. But it’s in Finney’s latest role as founder and managing director at Digital Undivided, a social enterprise dedicated to increasing wealth within urban communities through technology, that she plans to diversify the tech landscape, to add more women to the innovation economy.

Inspired by her late father’s unyielding work ethic, the savvy entrepreneur founded DID in 2012, teaming up with brand and public relations extraordinaire Darlene Gillard Jones, the organization’s marketing director. Investing $30,000 of her own capital to start the enterprise, Finney has built an empire that has generated more than six figures, support from investors such as EchoVC Partners’ Founder and Managing General Partner Eghosa Omoigui, Gen Y Capital Partners’ Founding Partner Lauren Maillian Bias, and backing from big name companies such as Google and American Express OPEN, as well as Oakland, California-based tech-meets-social good organization, Kapor Center for Social Impact.

Focused on flling the tech pipeline with black and Latino women, DID’s largest project, the FOCUS 100 Tech Symposium & Pitch Boot Camp, a three-day forum that features mentorship sessions, tech thought leaders, panels on emerging technologies, and a workshop-style pitch session with leading angel and venture capitalists, is disrupting the largely young, white, and male landscape. Finney knows frsthand the uneven playing feld of tech afer experiencing racism and sexism while participating in a popular incubator in 2007.

“That experience taught me that there are people who really just don’t want us in the space,” says Finney. “I think a lot of it, probably from their standpoint, was fear. It taught me that being smart isn’t enough. You have to have perseverance, you have to be scrappy, [and] you have to be resourceful.”

It’s a message she drives home during FOCUS 100. Close to 300 women founders and co-founders of color, angel investors, and venture capitalists as well as leading corporate executives invested in the future of technology gathered at Ogilvy Worldwide headquarters in New York City at the second annual conference in early October. The conference included conversations about funding, pitching, and developing new entrepreneurial opportunities. DID’s first-ever hackathon, Global Mobile Hackathon, drew an engaged crowd of blerds (black nerds) and the PITCH-IT session introduced attendees to four of DID’s 25 FOCUS Fellows, a group of female techies that receive one-on-one mentorship and guidance from the FOCUS network. The social enterprise reports that while black companies receive less than 1% of all venture funding, 20% of their FOCUS Fellows have raised angel and venture funding.

With keynote addresses from Stacy Brown Philpot, COO at TaskRabbit; Issa Rae, CEO and owner of Issa Rae Productions; and legendary rapper and early tech adopter MC Hammer, the conference became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter with more than 100 million impressions. “We want companies to start getting funding,” said Finney, who brings in investors that want to work with women of color. “We want to start starting companies, serious tech companies, that generate revenue for themselves as well as their communities. That’s what we hope to see. That is how we define success.”

DID has educated more than 500 urban entrepreneurs through its various initiatives and plans to reach more women in tech in the coming year. The organization announced at FOCUS that it is starting its own angel seed investment fund to support tech founders. And Finney and DID’s work has not gone unnoticed: Finney was honored as one of 11 “Champions of Change for Tech Inclusion” by the White House in July. —Janel Martinez

NeatConnect Gives Users Direct-to-Cloud Capabilities

Cloud technology has revolutionized the way businesses access, organize, and store documents. Whether you’re a small business owner or a corporate executive, there’s comfort in knowing that you can access important information from virtually anywhere.

The Neat Co., a leader in cloud-based digital filing systems, unveiled a simple way for users to quickly digitize and arrange information without connecting to a computer. With its built-in wireless capabilities, NeatConnect (; $499.95, includes three free months of NeatCloud) transfers paper into digital fles, scanning them directly to NeatCloud and Neat’s storage partners Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, and Evernote , as well as e-mail, SD cards, and FTP sites. If you prefer to forgo the scan-to-cloud option and connect your scanner to your PC or Mac, you can do so with an available USB port. Scanned items can also be stored on NeatConnect’s internal memory.

Choosing between color (24 PPM) and black and white (300 dpi, A4 size) scans, NeatConnect can provide single or double-sided scanning. It’s not uncommon to accumulate receipts and business cards while on the go so, of course, you can scan those, too (no more than 15 per stack)—not just lettersized documents. Without the paper tray, users can scan up to 50 letter-size documents.

The compact, wireless scanner can be placed anywhere thanks to its integrated Wi-Fiantenna. The touchscreen interface makes it easy to customize scanning. Users can choose the appropriate account user—the device supports up to five accounts—and where you want the scan stored.

Learn more at www.blacken — J.M.


Traveling with Tech

Last holiday season, AAA projected that 93.3 million Americans would travel during the holiday season, and that number is expected to increase again in the coming months. To minimize the headaches and maximize travel efficiency, use a free website such as TripIt that will organize all of your reservations in a central location. Simply forward your e-mail confirmation to and you’ve got a personal travel assistant on hand. The service is available on most smartphones, including the iPhone, Android, Black- Berry, and Windows Phone, as well as tablet devices. Frequent travelers can upgrade to TripIt Pro for $49 a year. You can also track your fight, monitor your luggage, and navigate the airport with most airline apps, which are free. With the holiday season fast approaching, let technology zip you through airport check-ins and minimize travel delays and airport congestion with the click of a button.

contact janel martinez at or @janelmwrites

Kathryn Finney’s Digital Undivided looks to full the talent pipeline