We asked Geraldine Chi, office manager at Autonomic’s Detroit office, what her favorite thing is about the Hacker Fellows program. Her answer: that it’s building a network of startups, students, and recent graduates all working together to better our local entrepreneurial community. As a company that is building the first open cloud-based mobility platform to create a more efficient and sustainable transportation network in the Motor City, this answer makes a lot of sense.
When Autonomic, headquartered in Palo Alto, opened its Detroit office in 2017 to work within the city most famous for mobility innovation, it was important to them to be a part of the community in more meaningful ways. “Don’t get me wrong, we’re a driven team that wants our company to succeed,” stresses Sylvia Fronczak, one of the software engineers at Autonomic. “But we’re not here just for our own gains. We want Detroit to prosper. We want our communities to flourish. In order to fulfill that social responsibility, we need to look out for more than just ourselves.”
Partnering with ID Venture’s Hacker Fellows Program was a natural fit. The program supports the career efforts of emerging tech talent by offering paid fellowships and internships with Michigan startups and providing salary support to participating companies. Each year the program accepts 15 fellows and 10 interns all looking to build startup careers that bolster our region’s economy. The program offers training, mentorship, and hands-on experience for young people who may have otherwise left the state for opportunities on the coast, leaving local companies struggling to find local talent.
Supporting the local startup ecosystem is important to Autonomic because, as Geraldine puts it, “when it comes to startups, a rising tide definitely lifts all boats. Giving people the opportunity to invent themselves in the tech community, providing them with experience and education, this creates a diverse, local network that improves creativity.”
Autonomic has been a great partner to the Hacker Program in a short amount of time. They assisted in the training efforts of the 2018 fellows by hosting a day-long session where participants could work together by finding creative solutions to real life challenges, guided by Autonomic’s team of expert developers. Additionally, they recently hired their first fellow, Jeseekia Vaughn—a Detroit native, engineering graduate from Wayne State, Chairperson of National Society of Black Engineers and a self-taught developer. And generously, they have donated the $15,000 stipend they would receive back into the program. “Hosting the fellows for a day was energizing! You can feel the motivation and excitement that they put into ideas. And being able to bring on someone as talented as Jeseekia to our team is an added bonus,” Sylvia adds. “Having her here means access to new insights and fresh ideas.”
From everyone at ID Ventures and the Hacker Fellow Program, thank you to Autonomic and all of our partners for your support of this growing network of Michigan innovators. We look forward to strengthening this growing network in the coming year and providing support to our budding, local talent and startups.