Veni Kunche (@Veni Kunche) is a bootstrapped founder and software engineer. At Diversify Tech, she connects underrepresented people in tech to scholarships, jobs, and speaking opportunities as well as helps companies hire. She also runs Code with Veni, a newsletter for underrepresented coders. She has grown both her newsletters to thousands of subscribers, has several sponsors, and built a job board.
The AMA took place on Instagram on December 10, 2019.
Hey Veni, thanks for doing this AMA! How did you find your first sponsors and how do you “select” them?
All of the sponsors I have had so far have been inbound. A few things that have helped over the years is to:
- Let people know that they can support the community via sponsorships.
- Have a sponsorship page with details about the community: # of members, how active they are, the kind of work they do, what specifically will a sponsor get.
- Send a Media Kit with the same info that you can send to people who inquire. Canva.com has some great Media Kit templates.
I am selective about my sponsors. They need to be a good fit for the community. If it's a product, it should be something that's directly relevant to my members like an interview prep site for my newsletter for coders. If it's a job posting, the company needs to show signs that they are being inclusive. They shouldn't be associated with organizations who are discriminatory.
Hey Veni! What advice would you give to someone who wants to build a community? What did you do that worked well for Diversify Tech? What didn't work so well? Thank you 🙏
My advice is to truly listen to your members and figure out their needs. Before I started Diversify Tech, I used to do mentoring office hours for people. These sessions gave me a lot of insight into what I wanted to build.
What has worked well: I started out small and connected with my audience first. Diversify Tech was just a website with a list of scholarships when I started. I learned from my members and built it out slowly.
What I am struggling with: Diversify Tech is two-sided. On one side, I help underrepresented people in tech. Growing that community has been going well. On the other side, I have companies that want to share their jobs with the community. Luckily, it's been growing through word of mouth. However, as a solo founder, it's been hard to give the same attention to that side too. In 2020, I want to focus a little bit more on that side and bring in more revenue.
Hi Veni! What are the most common issues people are facing during job search / scholarships?
Hi Tasha! With regard to the job hunting, most companies still don't know how to be inclusive. A lot of them seem to start their diversity initiatives in the marketing department. They try to seem diverse without actually changing internally. That is tough for underrepresented people because it's hard to figure out which company will truly support you.
It's a similar issue with scholarships. It's great that so many conferences are providing scholarships to get more people in the room but if they don't change to include us, underrepresented people won't go back.
Hi Veni! Love what you do. What are you looking forward to doing as you start to wrap up the end of 2019? Also, do you have any advice for someone transitioning from working at an agency startup to a software/SaaS company? Thank you :)
Hi Irma! I am going to be spending a lot of time this month reflecting on this year: what worked, what didn't, what can I do to improve my business, my family life & my health. I am looking forward to planning out 2020 based on that. I am also going on a vacation at the end of the month to just chill before the year starts. I am looking forward to not doing anything for a week :D
With regards to your transition - Startup life can be hectic. Depending on the company, you may find your job to be slow. That's ok. My advice is to take it slow, get to know your co-workers and enjoy your new job.
btw I think you had emailed a few months back to chat. Happy to do a hangout. Email me next month if you'd still like to chat.
Hi Veni, I noticed it’s the first anniversary of Diversify Tech 🎂 What do you plan for the future?
I have a few things lined up to work on. I'll be adding more resources to the site like local communities for underrepresented people in tech. I be starting an ambassador program.
I also want to work on improving the job board. I'll be adding features to make it easy to use.
Overall, I want to keep growing the community.