Category Archives: Science and Technology

From Harlem With Love: A Letter To Uber

uberFrom Harlem With Love: A Letter To Uber

April 27, 2015

Given my expertise in diversity and strong desire to see significant improvements in the tech sector regarding diversity, I have been closely following the discussion about diversity in Silicon Valley.  There is great need for improvement given the industry’s track record.  I recently wrote about this issue in my article “Homogeniuses: HBO’s “Silicon Valley” Mirrors Tech Industry’s Diversity Realities” which sites statistics and data on the industry.

As much as we need to move the needle on this issue, it does not help improve diversity more broadly or signal a strong desire to increase diversity in the workplace when companies elect to discriminate with the various promotions they offer customers.  Last week, I saw a rapidly growing tech company do just that by discriminating against geographic regions that have large numbers of minorities.  This reminds me of the days of restrictive covenants.

What Uber did on April 23rd says a lot about their overall mindset.  It leaves me to conclude that this mindset could also filter into their hiring practices and their overall approach to running their business.  If they had a more diverse workforce, someone may have stopped them from making a big blunder.

So what happened?  On April 23rd, I went to NY Tech Day.  It was a great event.  It brought together thousands of people – tech companies, start-ups, and people wanting to network with them.

However, I was very disappointed to see how Uber is trying to grow its business and market its services.  Uber was offering a promotion for discounted rides in Manhattan.  Essentially, you could get a ride anywhere in Manhattan as long as you were not going north of 125th Street.  For those less familiar with New York’s geography, 125th Street is in Harlem.  The region above 125th Street is primarily black, Latino, and working class.  Currently, this area is going through massive gentrification.  This area is changing quickly, but for now it is mainly populated by minorities.

In the photo, you can see the promotion card that geographically restricts the offer.  I was so deeply offended by this that I tweeted about it.  My goal is to get Uber to think more inclusively and not exclude people.

As Uber wants to grow its business, it should not do so by circumventing the City of New York’s anti-discrimination rules and guidelines regarding transportation throughout NYC. They did just that with this promotion.

People of color already have to deal with issues hailing taxis.  They do not need to also deal with being ineligible for discounted rates if they want to travel to “the black and Latino part of town.”

I strongly encourage Uber to become a part of the solution and not perpetuate problems from a bygone era.  Otherwise, they may signal that they are out of touch with their customer base and are fine alienating people.

By Fatimah Gilliam

Founder & CEO of The Azara Group 

Congratulate the 4 African American MacArthur Fellows Genius Grant recipients


Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 12.49.17 PM The MacArthur Foundation named 21 “extraordinarily creative people” as the 2014 recipients of its annual MacArthur Fellows Program—widely referred to as the “genius” grants.

Four African Americans are among this year’s consortium.

These individuals were nominated by an anonymous and esteemed group of people who are experts in their fields. The fellows had to demonstrate not only that they are brilliant self-starters in their respective professions but also that they are pushing the limits on future work that has “the potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work,” the foundation’s site reads.

via 4 Black People Named as Recipients of the 2014 MacArthur Fellowship – The Root.

Announced: Winner of the First “Harlem Demo Day” Startup Pitch Event

harlem demo day

Gerrad Larriett of East Harlem has won the first ever Harlem Demo Day.  He will receive a prize package including more than $1,000 in seed capital, a year of free business checking, and more.

The event was hosted by Harlem Garage where it took place, Silicon Harlem, and Harlem Co-Working Group, with special guest Mike Street acting as the official emcee.

The event raised more than $1,000.00 through ticket sales, including a matching grant from crown sponsor Spring Bank. All proceeds will go directly to Mr. Larriett along with a free year of business checking from Spring Bank, three free months of co-working space from Harlem Garage, and a free two-week social media campaign from PR/Branding agency Pixel Prose Media.

Larriett’s business Gerrard Larriett Aromatherapy Petcare is a luxury-style “pet spa in a box” that offers fresh and soothing products for owners and their pets. His exclusive products are already available for purchase online through the company’s website and in stores in select cities across the country.

Said Larriett of his win: “I am so honored and humbled to win the first ever Harlem Demo Day! It was an amazing experience to fine-tune my elevator pitch as we expand our aromatherapy pet grooming product line.”

A diversity of local startups and entrepreneurs submitted applications to pitch their business ideas for the chance to present at Harlem Demo Day, a community crowd-funding series that aims to create a new model for investment in local entrepreneurship and economic prosperity by enabling to residents to participate in the growth of local businesses.

Out of the initial pool of applicants, four were chosen as finalists to present before an esteemed panel of judges that featured:·

  • Silicon Harlem Founder Bruce Lincoln;
  • General Assembly lecturer, CEO Coach & Investor McAdory Lipscomb, Jr.
  • Former Freelancers’ Union CIO and Co-founder/CEO of Nethermead Diallo Powell;
  • Entrepreneur and founder of Red Giraffe Advisors Sapna Shah;
  • Managing entrepreneurial officer at Cornell Tech Aaron Holiday;
  • Paliwoda Ventures Founder Ron Paliwoda.

The finalists which also included social media sharing app TeamSync, Mobile Dry Cleaning and Delivery App Door2Door, and Construction Management App TrackFlo were evaluated on such factors as innovation, scalability, execution, business model and others.

All of the presenters – and even some attendees received valuable feedback from judges on how to strengthen their pitches and make their businesses more viable.

“It was great to hear the incredibly helpful feedback from the judges and to witness the excitement of the finalists and attendees alike,” said Tasha Williams, founder/CEO of TTW Consulting and Co-Founder/Co-Organizer of Harlem Demo Day. “We are proud to have been able to highlight such amazing entrepreneurs and create visibility around Uptown’s growing startup community. Plans are currently underway for future events, and we look forward to continuing to support local entrepreneurship and economic growth in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx.”

Those who are interested in learning about future “Harlem Demo Day” events and others are invited to sign up at


Harlem Demo Day (4/23): A funding pitch event for uptown entrepreneurs / start-ups

harlem demo dayOn Harlem Demo Day April 23, four uptown entrepreneurs will pitch their start-ups before a group of judges in the hopes of winning a cash prize 

The event is sponsored by Harlem Co-working Meet Up group, Silicon Harlem, Spring Bank, the Harlem Garage and TTW Consulting.

The event will be held at Harlem Garage.  One of many Harlem-based leading edge businesses including Harlem Garage and Harlem Biospace.  The city’s Economic Development Corporation has plans to launch a second incubator in the area.  And Silicon Harlem‘s monthly events grow more crowded each month.

Says Bruce Lincoln, Senior Fellow, Columbia Institute for Tele-Information, Columbia Business School & Silicon Harlem founder:

“What’s unique to Harlem is that it has always drawn creative, artistic people. Artists and creators today work with technology.   We are a community on the rise.  We see Harlem as being an innovation center.”

Winners will receive a cash prize and a year of free business checking from Spring Bank along with public relations help from Pixel Prose Media.

via: Uptown Entrepreneurs Pitch Tech Ideas in Bid to Put Harlem on App Map – Central Harlem – New York.