Startups

With a focus on career changers, a growing Tribaja’s Diversitech Summit returns this March

Here's what to expect for the recruiting event's second year. Plus, why the company recently expanded to Richmond.

Shannon Morales, founder of Tribaja.

(Courtesy photo)

Diversity-focused talent platform and community Tribaja is bringing back its Diversitech Summit next month, with plans to host the event annually.

Founder Shannon Morales said the conference, a three-day virtual event with an in-person reception in Philadelphia, will focus on “career changer” content — the themes and skills needed to navigate changing a career path or upskilling amid the Great Resignation. This year’s will be the second annual event, and while the main programing is virtual on March 16 through March 18, the last day of the conference will also hold an in-person closing reception at the W Hotel in Philadelphia.

Participants can expect workshops in tech skills, interview tips, salary negotiation tactics, on-the-spot interviews and panels featuring business leaders. Speakers may also share their contact info, if they have the capacity for mentorship or advice opportunities. The conference will be a reflection of the work Tribaja does year-round, Morales said.

Morales launched the SaaS business — a digital platform employers can use to find diverse talent — four years ago under the name Echo Me Forward with a focus on tech and tech-adjacent work. The business has evolved, and Morales has worked through Philly Startup Leader’s (PSL) idea-stage accelerator to refine it.

“I’m so supportive of the tech and startup space. It gave me the ability to live life on my own terms as a mom and be financially secure,” said the founder, who was voted Culture Builder of the Year in the 2020 Technical.ly Awards. “I’m a champion of the industry. The summit is about how to transfer into tech, both with technical and non-technical careers, and we’ll be featuring and highlighting and learning from people who have successfully made those transitions.”

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"I got that same warm and fuzzy feeling as I did when I came for Founder Factory for the first time in Philadelphia."
Shannon Morales on Richmond, Virginia

Last fall, Morales brought the company to Lighthouse Labs, an accelerator in Richmond, Virginia, focusing on early-stage tech startups and offering $20,000 in capital to grow the business. Morales said that the opportunities the company gained and the people she met there convinced her to launch a Richmond chapter of Tribaja.

“I got that same warm and fuzzy feeling as I did when I came for Founder Factory for the first time in Philadelphia,” Morales said, of PSL’s signature startup event. “It really felt like we could have the same success and support, and we were able to secure some large contracts out of Lighthouse Labs that felt like we could find success here.”

Morales’ team is currently a mix of six full- and part-time employees. As she continues to grow, she said, it feels important to have someone based in the regions where they’re working. The team has a Virginia-based intern and anticipates more local in-person events in the coming months.

While the pandemic has forced more events and connections to be virtual, it hasn’t changed the business model much. Morales said when she first launched the company, she thought they would be hyperlocal to Philadelphia, but with target users in the growth-stage startups and mission-driven enterprise realm, they’ve always had folks who were open to or prioritized remote talent. It can be seen on Tribaja’s Slack channel, which has about 3,600 users.

Tribaja has been bootstrapped until now, Morales said, but she’s beginning conversations with investors and aims to open a round of funding in the next month or so. She hopes to connect with investors who are focused on “future of work” solutions.

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