The Cake

My dream of creating a sex education platform proved to be complex and contentious

Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

As a queer woman of color, I’ve long regarded my work as a founder and entrepreneur in the straight, male world of tech as a form of activism. But I also knew I could do more. So after successfully co-founding my first company, the accounting software InDinero, I wanted my next project to focus more directly on social justice — specifically sex education.

I’d been raised in a working-class immigrant household that was deeply religious. My own sexual development was suffused with shame and stigma, and I knew that if I could reach outside the progressive bubbles of New York…

To my fellow startup founders –

We need to talk. First and foremost, I stand behind the courageous women who are speaking out about harassment by partners at VC firms and elsewhere.

I believe now is the time to be honest with ourselves about whether our own companies are places where people of all identities are welcomed and respected…or not.

I first wrote about diversity debt exactly two years ago today. Some founders have avoided accumulating this kind of debt by putting in the time and effort to hire people from different backgrounds early on.

I wanted to share the story of why I believe in building safer spaces online through my startup, Then, the story wrote itself:

One of our wonderful pleasure professionals, Ashley, did an amazing session about “Living, Loving, and Thriving with Herpes” for the community. She got so much love for it that she decided to recreate it on Facebook Live. You can see what happened in the first comment…

It would be laughable, if it didn’t happen so often. Ashley’s response?

“I get messages several times a week on my various social media channels requesting sex or with…

Every year, the United Nations hosts a two-week session for the Commission on the Status of Women. The theme of the conference on this 61st year will be women’s economic empowerment.

And I’ll be there, talking about orgasms*.

To get more specific, my teammate Latishia and I will be speaking on sexuality and economic empowerment with representatives from the United Nations Population Fund (taking on the global perspective), the Center for Reproductive Justice (national), and Planned Parenthood New York (local). As the founder of, I will be tackling change on the level of the individual.

The past few decades…

Last night, I cried in numb rage and terrified disbelief watching an administration get voted into office, whose policies and hateful influence directly threaten the lives of already vulnerable minorities, natives, immigrants, and women, and whose values painfully remind us that racism and misogyny persist, not just in one man, but the millions of Americans who supported him despite it all. As a queer first-generation Filipina-American woman born to immigrants, I woke up restless, pissed, and ready to act. …

I spent last Thursday in prison with inmates convicted of murder, burglary, drug charges, gang activity, and more. Some men had been there for more than 35 years, longer than I have been alive, and…

I can’t wait to go back.

When Defy Ventures invited me to be a judge at their first ever pitch competition inside of prison, I accepted immediately. As one of their first mentors when they launched in the Bay Area a year ago, I was accustomed to working with EITs (entrepreneurs-in-training) who had previously been incarcerated.

There are a lot of ways to look at diversity, but the most helpful way I have found is called “diversity debt.” In the same way that engineers can accrue “technical debt” when they push out sloppy code, or business owners can accrue “bookkeeping debt” when they procrastinate their financials until tax time, companies can also accrue diversity debt over their life cycle. The more people your company hires until you have a diverse team (meaning an array of genders, LGBT, socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, able-bodiedness, etc.) — the more diversity debt your organization has accrued.

The diversity problem in…

This month 500 Startups and General Assembly teamed up to hold a pre-accelerator program. Last week, we had our mini Demo Day:

500/GA pre-accelerator batch 0

I led the final week of the program where, in addition to 60-second pitch workshops, profile show-and-tell, and pitch deck review sessions, I organized mock accelerator interviews.

To help me, I called a few of my friends*, Ryan Jackson of Paid and Andrew Norris of Taplytics, both YCombinator alums, Mason Blake at UpCounsel and Tristan Pollock of Storefront (now EIR @500) who went through AngelPad, and Selcuk Atli and me from 500Startups (both of us with YC…

Andrea Barrica

founder/ceo at previously: venture partner @500startups. co-founder @inDinero. she/they. QWOC.

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