Porter Braswell and Ryan Williams are co-founders of an unusual job hunting site called Jopwell and it all started when they became friends while working at Goldman Sachs, jobs they took straight of college.
They quickly discovered they had a similar interest: mentoring other young black people when they joined the large prestigious finance firm.
“At our old company, we were not part of the official diversity team. Being black males we just wanted to assist. Diversity is something we’re both passionate about. It was just us raising our hand wanting to help out,” Braswell told Business Insider.
(He feels so strongly about paying it back that the Yale grad once wrote a book called Yes, You Can: The Secrets Revealed for How to Get into and Succeed at America’s Top Universities and Colleges.)
Soon, they wanted to do more than just help at their own company. They wanted to really solve diversity for all companies.
Their idea: to build a job-hunting site dedicated to matching people from minority backgrounds (namely Black, Latino/Hispanic and Native American) with great jobs and internships, particularly in tech.
Neither of them were programmers, but that didn’t stop them. They quit their jobs at their prestigious company in 2014 and bootstrapped until they had enough of the site together to get into the startup accelerator Ycombinator.
And things took off from there. People loved their idea.
“We have 57 investors, between angel rounds and seed rounds. There’s a lot of interest in what we’re doing,” says Williams.
Backers include the San Francisco 49ers, Joe Montana and Magic Johnson, says Braswell. (Montana and Johnson are both doing more angel investing these days).
All told, Jopwell has raised $4.25 million between angel and seed money, they say. That includes investment from Andreessen Horowitz, Kapor Capital, Omidyar Network, others.
And it’s working
Jopwell officially launched in January, 2015. Fast forward to today and the co-founders say they have more than 50 companies using their tech to find candidates. Companies using the site include Microsoft, Airbnb, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn and Spotify.
Plus other companies have joined it too, like Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, KPMG and The New York Times.
It has also attracted “tens of thousands” of job candidates, Braswell says, and all told has helped these people make 15,000 connections with possible employers through the site, it says.
Laura Lopez, a first-generation Mexican American, used Jopwell when it first launched to help her change careers.
She had spent her college career focusing on public service, including an internship as a diplomat with the US State Department.
But she had decided public service wasn’t right for her and didn’t know how to change course. She heard about Jopwell through her college, applied and landed a fellowship at Venture for America. That led her to her current job doing communications at VentureLab.
She liked working through Jopwell because the companies on it are making an effort to be more inclusive.
“I wanted to make sure I was working for a company that has considered that,” she told Business Insider. Plus, it helped her find an opportunity she wouldn’t have found on her own. “It put a company and a career path on my radar.”
Adds Braswell: “We hope this has ripple effects of long lasting economic value. We have a strong mission of changing the dynamics of employment. In some sense, this is giving back. We were part of diversity internship programs and we want to continue that tradition and expose more people.”