This interview is part of our Diversity in Tech series in partnership with All Raise, Anitab.org, Blavity, Grid 110, and Latinas in Tech, a coalition effort to champion diverse representation in the tech industry. Read more about this initiative here, and download images from the Diversity in Tech collection here.
Felicia Curcuru is the CEO of Binti, a company that builds software designed to help every child have a family. Since Binti launched in 2016, the company has helped over 30,000 families get approved to foster/adopt children and over 5,000 social workers use Binti as their primary workspace in the office and in the field.
Prior to starting Binti, Felicia had a career in business and technology. She was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company and was later the first employee, Head of User Experience and Director of Business Development at FundersClub, a leading online venture capital firm. She is actively involved in helping more women raise money to start companies through her role as co-lead of Female Founder Office Hours, as part of All Raise. She also is an active angel investor.
We caught up with Felicia to learn more about Binti and what she sees as some of the greatest opportunities to champion diversity in the startup world.
Hi Felicia! Tell us about yourself, how did you get to where you are today?
I’m extremely passionate about creating a world where every person has a fair chance. I’ve been extremely lucky to have an amazing family and to have had access to incredible opportunities in my life. I know that not everyone has these and I want to use my privilege to help more people have access to opportunities and be able to pursue their dreams. Prior to starting Binti I worked at McKinsey, where I worked with large government agencies around the world to develop strategy and improve their operations. Then, I worked at an early stage startup in Silicon Valley and fell in love with creating products.
I feel really lucky I get to use my skills to work on a problem I care about so much.
You are the Co-Founder and CEO of Binti, a technology company that’s changing the foster care and adoption process for the better, replacing mountains of paperwork with a streamlined system to help every child find a loving family, faster. What inspired you to create Binti?
My sister adopted two children and I saw through her experience that the process was extremely difficult, complicated, and stressful. I also volunteered with foster youth and saw the system through that lens. I did research and found that there is a huge shortage of foster and adoptive families for children. It didn’t make sense to me that there is such a shortage and yet it’s so hard for families to get approved to foster and adopt.
What does the Binti process look like for prospective families and social workers compared to the standard process?
Families were applying on paper and social workers were using 70 column excel spreadsheets to track the families. We also saw that other teams in Child Welfare were struggling without the tools to do their work, including teams that provide services to biological families to help them reunify with their children. Binti’s first module, Approvals, is like TurboTax to help users apply to be a foster/adoptive family and it’s also a mobile-friendly app that lets social workers track their workflow to approve families more easily. On average, after using Approvals, our agency partners approve 80% more families per year and approve families 16% faster. We also save social workers 20–40% of their time. We have other modules for each of the 7 workflows in Child Welfare. We believe it’s possible for every child in the U.S. to have a family and we believe software can be a huge force for change in making that happen.
At Noun Project, we believe visual language has the power to shape, reinforce and change perceptions. What are your thoughts on why diverse visual representation in tech is important to help change the status quo in the industry?
Diverse visual representation in tech can make it more welcoming for diverse talent to work in tech.
For example, when I was starting Binti, there were not many women founders. It was less welcoming for me. I surrounded myself with other women founders which helped create a more welcoming community. I hope that now I can be a part of making other women founders feel comfortable taking the leap and starting a company.
Similarly, we in tech should do our part to make other roles in the industry seem welcoming by ensuring having a diverse team is a priority and making our company cultures inclusive and welcoming when people join. There is a lot that goes into that and we should always be striving to learn and improve.
What are some of the greatest opportunities you see right now to drive meaningful change when it comes to more equitable representation in the tech and startup worlds?
Venture Capital firms should ensure that they have diversity on their teams making investment decisions. I also think companies should compare their teams and leadership to their community and customer base, and ensure they have representation. If they don’t, they should do proactive outreach to source that talent to make sure their recruiting pipeline is diverse.
Looking to the future, what inspires you and what initiatives are you most excited about right now?
I’m excited about all of the initiatives All Raise is leading around helping more women be successful investors and founders. I’ve been involved for a couple of years as a co-lead on a number of initiatives and it’s been very fulfilling — we’ve helped thousands of women get office hours and mentorship, and helped hundreds of women go through boot camps on how to raise money and get introductions to investors. I’m really passionate about helping more women start companies.
What advice would you give to people who are currently navigating the path to entrepreneurship in tech?
Pick a problem you are extremely passionate about. Starting a company is hard and you need to be passionate about it to persist through the hard times.
How can people support the work you’re doing?
We’re hiring! Particularly in engineering. Please refer great candidates that are passionate about helping children have a fair chance at life at binti.com/careers
This interview is part of our “Diversity in Tech” series in partnership with All Raise, Latinas in Tech, Anitab.org, and Grid 110, a coalition effort to champion diverse representation in tech. Read more about this initiative here, and download images from the Diversity in Tech collection here.
About All Raise
All Raise is on a mission to accelerate the success of female founders and funders to build a more prosperous, equitable future. Born out of a grassroots movement in 2017, our programs arm women with access, guidance, and support to advance their professional growth. When the architects of tomorrow better reflect the world, our world is better served. Learn more at allraise.org.
Senior Director of Marketing at Noun Project