Forbes featured women-led tech startup, Kanarys, Inc., the first social enterprise technology platform that aims to foster collaboration between companies and employees on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. The startup was able to secure $575K in its first round of funding, which ended in January of 2019. Kanarys, Inc. was co-founded by BBA ’03 alumna and BBA Advisory Board Member, Mandy Price and COO of Kanarys, Star Carter.
Dominique Fluker, senior contributor at Forbes, sat down with Price to talk about her journey to tech entrepreneurship. Read the full Q&A feature on Forbes.com.
Fluker: Share your career journey. Why did you transition from being an attorney to Co-Founder and CEO of Kanarys?
Price: My career as a corporate attorney is what sparked the idea for Kanarys. Lack of diversity and inclusion is something I experienced first-hand as an African-American female attorney. I had achieved what I set out to do in my professional life: attend a top-tier, Ivy League law school, rise the ranks of a top law firm, and enjoy accolades, and yet, at times, I still often felt like an outsider. I remember on one occasion sitting in a meeting with a client, when one of my fellow partners referred to me as the firm’s “diverse” partner. It was clear to me at that moment, that I was neither valued or seen as a full member of the team. Instead, I had been relegated to a “token.”
After 12 years as an attorney, I realized I wanted to change the workplace once and for all. I co-founded Kanarys to help companies create workplace cultures where everyone belongs.
Fluker: Kanarys, Inc., is a technology company that is using data and analytics to address diversity and inclusion issues in the workplace. What inspired you to start Kanarys?
Price: From my own corporate experience and in talking with hundreds of other underrepresented professionals, I observed that despite many well-meaning diversity initiatives in corporate America, those initiatives tend to be superficial and don’t translate into collaborative, inclusive dialogues that also support the business. In fact, a recent study shows that less than 30% of people of color reported a sense of belonging in their workplace. This is a problem for both employees and companies because those same employees end up leaving, resulting in attrition costs of approximately $144,000 per employee, annually.
As we started Kanarys, we realized that inclusive cultures don’t just happen – they’re intentional. And by re-aligning our collective focus to value inclusion and equity, along with diversity, employees become more engaged, more productive, and ultimately, more valuable to a company’s bottom line – which is also backed up by research.
Fluker: Recently, Kanarys Inc. secured $575K in its first round of funding. How does the company plan to leverage this round of funding?
Price: We are thrilled to have been able to raise $575,000, considering that less than 0.2% of $100 billion in venture funding goes to African American women founders. We are using the funds to build out the technology platform that we believe will be a cornerstone of diversity initiatives at large and small U.S. companies and hire additional data analysts and other team members as we expand the platform. Our platform launches for select company Beta users in early February.
Read the full Q&A feature on Forbes.com.