A former public school teacher, education policy researcher, and PhD candidate, Mandela Schumacher-Hodge began her career in tech as startup founder. After raising funds from Kapor Capital, 500 Startups, and Imagine K12, Mandela’s company, Tioki, went on to build technology that helped hundreds of schools across the country secure great teachers for their students. Thereafter, she was recruited to Startup Weekend Education (SWEDU). In just two years, Mandela and her team successfully scaled the organization from three to six continents, officially establishing it as the largest initiative in the world focused on teaching people how to use entrepreneurship to improve education.
In October 2015, Mandela joined Kapor Capital as its founding Portfolio Services Director. At the Oakland-based venture capital firm, Mandela oversees a portfolio of 114 tech startups, helping them make progress on their business, social impact, and diversity goals. Most recently, Mandela helped launch a first-of-its-kind venture-backed diversity pledge titled the Founders’ Commitment. 77 companies in the Kapor Capital portfolio have already signed on, and over the next year, Mandela will work alongside acclaimed diversity expert and Kapor Capital Partner, Dr. Freada Kapor Klein, to develop diversity workshops and resources to help founders make progress on their Commitment.
Over the past five years, Mandela has advised hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs and her latest hobby, The Startup Couch, is a reflection of those lived experiences. To-date, Mandela has presented on over 50 stages and has received several recognitions, including being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Education list, presenting at TEDx, and publishing two Top 20 Medium posts about startups.