When it comes to entrepreneurship, we’ve often heard that you gotta go all in.
In September, Aaron Brooks took the leap and left his job of four years as a DevOps engineer at Fearless to become the full-time CEO of Mastermnd, his technical talent pipeline company.
Building on experience as an instructor with the Baltimore Black Techies Meetup, Brooks started streaming introductory tech talks last year, and soon launched Mastermnd in August 2019. Along the way, he found support from Fearless, as Mastermnd was a member of the first cohort of the downtown digital services company’s incubator, called Hutch. Still, with growth came a decision point.
“While I was doing both, there just wasn’t enough time,” said Brooks about when he was juggling both roles at Fearless and Mastermnd. “I felt like I wasn’t giving it my all at either. It had got to that point. That’s when I knew it was time to step out all the way on my own.”
Today is my first day as my own boss
— aaron_from_mastermnd🧠 (@mastermndio) September 21, 2020
Brooks saw an access gap in tech. He saw a need to “scale opportunity.” It wasn’t that it was hard to be a software engineer. Rather, it was that the process to be an engineer was a mystery to most people. That mystery could be the reason the IT trade group CompTIA reports, via the Wall Street Journal, that around 918,000 tech jobs are unfilled in the U.S.
What Mastermnd does in practice is run tech bootcamps and trainings virtually through Twitch and Youtube. At 7 p.m. every Monday-Thursday, Brooks does what he calls “edutainment” and teaches Python to close to 7K followers on Twitch.
“The goal is to make the process of becoming an engineer a very public one,” said Brooks. “So, they can understand it and see the ups and the downs.”
Now that Brooks is full time, the company is expanding its content with employees and interns that will be involved in a web series chronicling the journey of a software engineer. The company is also looking to hire more educators so that the Mastermnd Twitch is a place people can come and learn every day.
“I think usually when people think about technical education and tech companies, they don’t ever think about meeting [people] at the places where they always are,” said Brooks about the importance of his online community. “Building media around these things so people can be included in the process, I think is going to be pretty great.”
Brooks found his Why. After seeing what tech has done for his life, Brooks want to give that to others. As the CEO of Mastermnd full-time, he can help people create a life for themselves in tech.
“I believe tech can change lives,” said Brooks. “Not only change lives but entire lineages for people.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.