My first model of a computer scientist was a Black woman. Her existence was the antidote to what could have been crippling imposter syndrome.

A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: My Ancestors. SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME GO "AWW": Adults that look like babies. EARLIEST ENTREPRENEURIAL MEMORY: Selling Mary Kay with my Mom.

Stephanie Lampkin

Create something that’s uniquely yours, but impacts others

A REFLECTION OF HER ENVIRONMENT. Being surrounded by strong, smart, powerful, confident Black women helped shape Stephanie Lampkin’s life, but sometimes being seen as different, unassuming, and unworthy helped shape it even more. “As someone who is just 3 generations away from enslaved American ancestors, I am very lucky to be where I am today. After serving in WWII, my grandfather left the Jim Crow south for the freedom and opportunity promised in the Mid-West. As a father, he strategically moved into integrated, predominately white, working-class neighborhoods. I think the quality of education my mother received in integrated secondary schools coupled with an HBCU degree has a lot to do with how we have been able to thrive despite the crippling psychological effects of American racism.”

Stephanie got into tech really early because her aunt was a computer scientist and programmer in the early 1980’s. “That early exposure was critical to my later success in a predominately cis, white, Asian, and male environment in Silicon Valley. I attended tech conferences and competed in hackathons at age 13 surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands of Black professionals from all over the world.”

So graduating from MIT, becoming a Fortune 40 under 40, an MIT Tech Review 35 under 35, and an internationally acclaimed data scientist and thought leader in DEI is truly only the beginning of Stephanie’s story.

And then one day, while seeking a job at Google, she was told she wasn’t “technical enough” for an entry-level analytics role. "So, on one hand you have companies like Google saying publicly that they can’t find women and people of color who get the degrees that they hire for, but behind closed doors it’s a totally different story. And I was seeing it first-hand.”

KNOCKING DOWN DOORS. Being told she wasn’t enough was the impetus for Stephanie realizing the true inefficiency in the sector at large. Shortly thereafter, her company Blendoor was born. A diversity rating and employer branding company, Blendoor is setting the standard for corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) performance.

“In so many ways, my entrepreneurial journey is very connected to my personal and lived experience, but at the end of it all, I’m really just trying to push for greater corporate social accountability.” Because as a woman, and a woman of color, and an LGBTQ woman of color, Stephanie knows that representation doesn’t just matter, it changes everything.

“I came out later in life, but I’ve been Black and female my entire life, so much of my lived experience has centered on the intersection of those identities. For most of my childhood, my mother and I lived below the poverty line. Generational wealth is non-existent among most descendants of enslaved Americans, so unlike many of my peer founders I had to create the blueprint, build it, and lift family along the way.”

“Sometimes things can feel impossible, but I stand on the shoulders of highly intelligent, persistent, and resourceful people. Life has presented many obstacles that I have had to take head on to survive and in doing so have achieved unprecedented success. As one of the less than 100 Black women founders in the world to raise over $1M, mitigating the bias in venture capital to gain access to capital was one of the biggest obstacles I’ve overcome, but that’s the boring stuff. The fun stuff is creating something that other people can connect with on a human level. I think I’ve done that, I’m doing that.”

Order your own copy of the Gaingels 100, today! Our mission is to encourage greater representation and create a more diverse, equitable, and accessible venture capital ecosystem. Elevating the stories of the most inspiring amongst us is one of the ways in which we do this.

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.