MINNEAPOLIS - While his friends were enjoying their teen years, Alex Rodriguez was working with his father who owned a construction company.
“My father would take me to go out roofing with him. I would hate it,” he said. “All of my friends were at Valley Fair or the beach.”
Rodriguez said he wanted to spend time with his friends. But his father said they had work to complete.
Today, the 21-year-old is thankful for the early lesson in work ethics.
Alex is one of seven people across the country selected to participate in a year-long program designed to create more opportunities for African-American and Latino entrepreneurs. It’s all part of the Code2040 residency program. It comes with a $40,000 stipend. His tech start-up, Work Mand, caught the attention of program leaders.
“It connects businesses with local contractors to handle their manual labor,” he said. “For example, let's say you are an owner of a small coffee shop and you need your walls painted. You go on our platform and tell us what you need and when you need it. (Your request) will send out a notification to our contractors.”
CODE2040 is trying to close the racial gap in the tech industry. Black and Latino students earn nearly 20% of computer science degrees.
After a successful pilot program, Google for Entrepreneurs has expanded its residency program to seven cities across the country.
Laurie Healy is the director of marketing and communications with CoCo. She said CoCo is one of seven tech hubs that has partnered with Google to provide mentoring opportunities and work space. Alex will work at CoCo. Healy said this is the perfect opportunity to build bridges in the community.
Leaders with the Code2040 program say their goal is to ensure that by the year 2040 - when the U.S. will be majority-minority - Blacks and Latinos are proportionally represented in America's innovation economy as technologists, investors, thought leaders, and entrepreneurs.
Alex is also the co-founder of Graveti, which seeks to increase the ranks of under-represented groups in tech start-ups. He said this is just the beginning of changing the face of the tech industry across the state.