At the 2014 ESSENCE Festival, we hosted our first-ever #YESWECODE Tech Village, an all-day event featuring community leaders, thinkers and technical training and mentoring organizations working to fill the minority gap in Silicon Valley and beyond. In this It Takes a Tech Village series, we profile the organizations that made our Tech Village a success.

Jaymes Hines, founder of Startup EdTech was working as a web developer long before it was the sexy thing to do.

“In the mid 90s, I was among the first L.A.-based web developers working on film, TV and music projects and launching multimedia web content,” he said.

With that expertise, Hines started Startup EdTech to support his belief that “education should be for anyone, anytime, anywhere.” Among the dozens of Bay Area-based tech organizations with goals of developing the next generation of tech leaders, Hines has carved out quite a specific niche: Startup Edtech works with very early stage startups and educators-turned-entrepreneurs to provide new-age teaching solutions for academia. But it doesn’t stop there. Startup’s digital approach extends to live classroom visits and face-to-face mentoring activities.

“Technology is great, but to be truly effective it needs the occasional old school face-to-face engagement,” Hines said.

We spoke to Hines about the ESSENCE Festival Tech Village and the exciting things Startup EdTech has in the pipeline.

ESSENCE: How did Startup Edtech come together?
JH: My friend, Rashid Bahati, also began work with me to secure film and TV projects with an education component. He worked for Los Angeles Unified School District and asked me to introduce media technology to his classes. A decade or so later, I moved from the Valley in Los Angeles to the Silicon Valley of Northern California with a strong belief that the next generation of great ideas and innovations in the emerging global mobile app economy will be in education technology. 

Startup Edtech leverages mobile technology to provide access to a library of education apps and content. Coupled with today’s digital and mobile tech, which provides resource information to anyone, anywhere at anytime, we can rapidly change the way people learn. Our focus includes students, teachers, parents and adult life-long learners across all industry sectors.
ESSENCE: What makes your organization different for the other programs?  
JH: Leveraging the enormous impact of Internet mobility and smartphone and tablets usage, we differentiate ourselves by catering to the 21st century needs of 50 million public school students and the millions of parents and educators transitioning to digital learning. We have a digital platform and offline event production process that seeks the best ideas and execution in smart data, teaching practice and mobile learning. 
As education in the U.S. transitions from print to digital delivery and instruction, Startup Edtech produces events that helps find ideas that can change the delivery of pedagogy and learning for everyone, everywhere.  We also host coding workshops with partners that are focused strongly on tech entrepreneur best practices, including making presentations to investors.
ESSENCE: What nugget of advice did you offer at the ESSENCE Fest Tech Village that the audience seemed to respond to the most?
JH: Don’t wait a second longer in changing your life.  Also, leverage your passion and knowledge to provide insights and help for others. Share your knowledge and others will respond in kind.
ESSENCE: What the one question you get the most from black students about coding?
JH: The most requested question over the three days of Essence and #YesWeCode Festival from both adults and students attendees was, “Where can I find more information?”
ESSENCE: What’s next for your organization?
JH: Startup Edtech is partnering with two national social organizations to deliver amazing hackathon events in the Valley as well overseas. Also, just in time for the back-to-school season, we’re releasing two apps: 21 Teach, an app library with Open Education Resources aligned to Common Core for Teachers and 21 Teach Code, a rapid app building tool kit for students and education entrepreneurs. Lastly, we are assisting CNN Hero Estella Pyform of Estella’s Brilliant Bus in launching a computer science program to provide robust entry-level scoding and entrepreneur workshops on the go!

Don’t forget to follow the #YESWECODE conversation on Twitter.