Opportunity Hub and TechSquare Labs Merge
Rodney Sampson Joins Team as Chief of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
Two of Atlanta’s leading startup hubs merge to allow a greater focus on increasing diversity in technology
ATLANTA, October 30, 2015 — TechSquare Labs, a technology innovation hub for startups and corporations, today announced their merger with Opportunity Hub, the largest diverse and inclusive entrepreneurship center and multi-campus coworking space in the nation. Opportunity Hub’s Founder and CEO, Rodney Sampson, joins the TechSquare Labs team as the Chief of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives. Together with Paul Judge and Allen Nance, Sampson will focus on creating curriculum, products and solutions to increase diversity and inclusion in tech, build a platform to start, accelerate, incubate and fund diverse co-founding teams, help corporates meet their own internal strategies, goals, and initiatives in this area and bridge the divide between corporate innovation and supplier diversity.
TechSquare Labs offers 25,000 SqFt of innovations labs and coworking space, including an incubator, venture fund, and corporate innovation programing in Technology Square, an Opportunity Zone and ground zero for innovation in the Southeast. The team uses their prime location and business experience to leverage connections between corporations, technical cofounders, and educational institutions – accelerating startups and fostering innovation within large enterprises. By bringing on Sampson and merging with Opportunity Hub, TechSquare Labs will broaden their program offerings and become a champion for inclusion in the technology sector.
“Over the last 3 years, Opportunity Hub has led the nation in launching diverse and inclusive startup and technology ecosystems garnering greater access to vetted mentorship and early stage capital for minorities and women,” said Sampson. “TechSquare Lab’s Cofounders Paul Judge and Allen Nance have a proven track record of starting and investing in scalable companies that create jobs and increase shareholder value. Their willingness to invest in the building of a diverse and inclusive end-to-end technology ecosystem demonstrates their commitment to developing Atlanta’s economy and our city’s attractiveness to the global markets.”
Atlanta is home to some of the largest coding schools in the Southeast, a quarter million higher education students, and two of the top five historically black colleges and universities. This talent pool combined with the burgeoning startup scene and concentration of large corporations, creates an unparalleled opportunity to Build Something from Nothing at TechSquare Labs.
TechSquare Labs’ first diversity initiative includes the launch of a pilot code school and cofounder’s college in collaboration with Atlanta’s Workforce Development Agency. Lead by Michael Sterling, the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency has committed up to $200,000 toward the training of new software engineers (coders) from underserved and underrepresented communities in the City of Atlanta.
“It’s a step in the right direction for bridging the digital literacy divide in Atlanta by focusing energy on traditionally underserved youth, helping them get access to the skills they need to become coders as well as learn about being an entrepreneur,” said Michael Sterling, executive director of the agency. “It also helps businesses fulfill some of the gaps they have and experienced in finding qualified people.”
The code school and cofounder’s college will be led by Rodney Sampson, who has a long track-record of creating inclusive platforms and advocating for minorities and women in the technology market:
- Launched Kingonomics, the best selling book, advocacy and thought leadership platform for increasing diversity and inclusion in the innovation, entrepreneurship and investment ecosystems.
- Created the diversity and inclusion initiatives for Mark Burnett Productions (One Three Media), the Executive Producers of Sharktank, A.D, Son of God and The Voice. In this role, he trained and advised Mark Burnett and the company’s key executives on diversifying and creating a more inclusive culture which resulted in the hiring of more minorities, an increased focus on outreach to minority entrepreneurial organizations and communities and an increase of the number of minorities and women that pitch each season on the show. Sampson also negotiated for Lady Gaga’s former manager turned venture capitalist, Troy Carter, to appear on Sharktank as a Guest Shark.
- Partnered with the White House and Obama Administration on their Inclusive Entrepreneurship and TechHire Initiatives.
- Founded Opportunity Hub, the 3rd largest entrepreneurial center in Atlanta; and nation’s largest majority minority owned coworking space, pre-accelerator and incubator dedicated to developing more talent and high growth startups from both underrepresented and underserved communities. Opportunity Hub produces over 300 educational events and classes per year, has pre-accelerated 25 startups, and awarded over $60,000 in code school scholarships. The startups in the Opportunity Hub ecosystem have raised over $5,000,000 in pre-seed and seed capital.
- As a champion for minority access to capital, Sampson was awarded the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency 2015 Access To Capital Award.
“Rodney is an innovator, pioneer and respected authority in the inclusive innovation space,” said Dr. Paul Judge, Cofounder of TechSquare Labs. “He is the perfect person to lead our diversity initiatives to not only build companies, but also opportunities for everyone in our community and beyond.”
Learn more at www.techsquare.co