We had the good fortune of connecting with Naomi Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Naomi, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I started my company to ultimately create a tech education experience that I wish I had growing up. My journey in tech started at a young age – I was six years old when I built my first computer. I attended various STEM camps including a computer science institute at UC Berkeley where I was introduced to what it’s like to work at a tech company. On those company tours, behind all the glitz and glamor, free food, benefits, and ping pong tables, I quickly noticed the overwhelming lack of representation of diverse talent. It was also challenging for me to get my peers to want to join me in my pursuit of a career in tech. It became my mission to improve interest and retention of minorities in technology.
The way that students are introduced to careers in tech today is so basic, and the way they learn the tech skills is not appealing to underrepresented communities. It’s very disappointing that only in the tech industry, only 6% of black tech talent 7% latino is represented. I mobilized a team to help improve diversity in tech through inclusion in education.
At ∞edu, we are building the future of tech education in web3. Our current product takes a passion-first approach to career exploration by matching students’ interests to tech careers through an engaging chat experience. Our approach meets students where they’re at- so if a student is interested in sports and they don’t make it to the league, they could still work for their favorite NBA team but as a data analyst or Nike as a software engineer. We are evolving the platform into an immersive learning experience turning brands into universities where students learn through the roles they are interested in pursuing. We also incentivize the learning experience so that students learn tech skills, earn our tokens, and redeem prizes from their favorite brands.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
What is so exciting about what we are building at ∞edu is that it’s truly different than what is currently out there. Today’s top tech learning platforms aren’t made with diverse students in mind and they’re not led by diverse founders either. Edtech platforms should be built with true accessibility, empathy, and cultural-relevance. It is not enough to introduce youth that have little to no exposure to tech as a career path by simply recommending that they learn a programming language. This kind of skills-first approach is outdated. Our team at ∞edu knows that taking a passion-first approach to tech education is essential. This means making real world connections and matching interests to lifelong possibilities. Technology is integrated in all industries – music, beauty, sports, fashion, finance, culinary, and so on. It is important for learners to understand that technology is user-centric. Consumers should be creators— a product’s most passionate end-users are certainly qualified to be in the rooms influencing key decisions and developments. A combination of quality tech education, approachable mentorship, and meaningful career exploration can make a world of a difference for millions of overlooked learners.
I also want to add from a founder’s perspective – when building a company that intentionally embraces users from all backgrounds, it’s important to also bring your authentic self to the table. In my world, I am allowed to be multifaceted in all that makes me, me. This means being both a tech entrepreneur and a model and not caring what people think about it. I will look back on my life and be proud that I went after every dream and experienced all that filled my cup up so that I could pour into others.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First stop – we’re visiting Launch House! Get a taste of founder life in one of the most beautiful homes in Beverly Hills. Next is a trip to the Griffith Observatory – a very scenic learning experience with shows that run every hour or so.
We’d spend the rest of the week trying out the various Soho houses in LA – DTLA for vibes, fitness, and the pool, Weho for views and food. Lastly, it’s a must to end the week at Harriet’s on Sunday – especially during the sunset. A beautiful evening of music, views, food, and dancing. Those are all of my favorite experiences thus far, and I’m super excited to explore more of LA!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to give a shout out to Launch House, one of the best founder communities in existence today. Their co-living/working residency programs are absolutely top-tier. I had the privilege of participating in the first all-female founder cohort during Women’s Month this past March 2022 and the experience was life changing. I spent a month in a Beverly Hills mansion with 20 brilliant women with tech companies. Launch House aids entrepreneurs by opening their network, curating knowledge-sharing support, and making the startup journey a lot more fun through their programming. I am truly proud to be a LH member and look forward to evolving with them!