FROM THE START: A chat with the founder of de-bias
Too often, we learn from other founders only after they’ve “already made it,” but there’s a lot to gain from their journeys as early-stage entrepreneurs. FROM THE START is an interview series with founders from our 2021–2022 Incubator that will trace their startup stories from the beginning, reveal some of the resources helping them overcome the bumps, and point out ways you can help them thrive.
Since joining the Incubator in May, all of the companies have been hustling to get their brands and businesses out there. Now it’s time to get to know them!
Some answers have been edited slightly for brevity.
What’s been the journey that’s led you to start your company?
As much as I am thankful for where I am at and excited for what I have built, if I’m being honest, it has been rough and continues to be. What this platform was built FOR is happening TO me, simultaneously. I don’t get to shut off my work and go about my day existing because of the oppressions I face personally and experience as a professional. I have to intentionally seek out spaces where I can escape my everyday experience. The people I surround myself with have to understand the limitations in their work to ensure they are not perpetuating harm.
So, there are the struggles of the startup journey plus the exponential amount of discrimination due to most spaces not being designed for me to succeed because of my identity, solution, ethics, and business model. While I am extremely blessed to be in this position and wouldn’t trade it for the world, it’s important for readers to understand that people building products to solve social issues have to have a different kind of resiliency that is not talked about enough.
What’s the problem that your business is solving?
de-bias connects business outcomes to social issues through data accountability. Currently, methods do not exist for policies and systems to be analyzed in a way that highlights the impact on marginalized populations to achieve fair and just outcomes. So, we are taking a technical approach to address bias, discrimination, and human rights through the fundamentals of organizational policies, procedures, and practices.
The platform provides a safe space away from retaliation through anonymous surveys and root cause analyses versus raw data. We get live, robust, and continuous feedback. Our AI software uses the experiences of our reviewers to pinpoint where it’s happening and why and automate interventions that predict outcomes and mitigate harm moving forward.
I have always been a critical thinker and felt there’s always a better way—where most folks, even entrepreneurs, out of fear of being marginalized, will continue doing the same thing even if we know it doesn’t work.
My framework and logic are built out of tenets of marginalization, intersectionality, and Black femme queer theory. My trade is knowing how to deconstruct the world to center the most marginalized. And I grew up seeing how everything I experienced was born out of racism, misogyny, imperialism, and white supremacy. So I know what needs deconstructed and what the better alternatives are.
What has helped you overcome the bumps you’ve encountered so far in your entrepreneurial journey?
Finding folks who are in community and working on these issues across all industries has been difficult. So I communicate what I need, unapologetically and directly. People knew what I was looking for in a person and understood why.
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
Being an entrepreneur to me doesn’t fit within our current system. So I’ll speak about it from our vision . . . an entrepreneur builds a solution out of passion and finds value in the exchange through relationships.
What’s a resource or tip that’s helped you develop as a founder and move your business forward?
In my line of work and work style, I need feedback before making a decision to avoid building in a silo. So, I really like the structures of incubators. As a solo founder and a small team, this has allowed me to accelerate in a curated space for my company with people dedicated to providing feedback and resources from many perspectives.
What’s next? How can our readers help you?
We are scheduled to launch on 2.22.22 and are targeting 3,000 reviews over the next 3 months. We need folks to go to our platform and review their banks, employers, physicians, city council, police force, child’s school district, and other organizations. We also have virtual meetups for folks to complete the surveys as a group, answer questions, and get feedback on what folks would like to be transparent.
Additionally, we are looking for 25 pilots over the next year. So, if you are a mid to large-sized organization or a membership organization and want to transform it, submit a Contact Us form for a discovery call!
We also have a special license for consultants to build capacity for ongoing data collection or if you’re looking to monitor contracts after they end.
Please share our platform on social media with your friends or colleagues tasked with complex or challenging changes.
Learn more about de-bias.
Connect with us
From fledgling tech companies, healthcare innovators, and nonprofits to makers, creators, services and shops, Ascender is for Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurs. We help businesses of all types in the Pittsburgh region start and build a business through education and connectivity. See how Ascender can help you.