March 6, 2023

This Black-Owned Platform Is Upskilling Laid-Off Tech Workers Through Community

Black-owned startup Equipt is using the power of the community to help tech workers bounce back from layoffs.

In 2021, Olajide “Jide” Osan and Hubert Dagbo co-founded Equipt as a talent marketplace using upskilling events to connect job seekers with potential employers.

After first meeting at Lehigh University in 2008, Dagbo and Osan found mentors who used their skills and networks to find career opportunities in finance and tech, respectively. The pair reconnected during the Covid-19 pandemic and launched Equipt, using technology to replicate the path they followed years prior.

Shifting to focus to layoffs

But in late 2022, Equipt shifted its focus in light of the mass layoffs sweeping through the tech industry.

“We recognized our community had a different challenge now,” Dagbo told “They were dusting off their resumes, dealing with layoffs, visa issues, and other problems following mass layoffs. And a large amount of our community wanted to help.”

As a result, the pair launched the Equipt for Success initiative to allow companies to connect with talent in live one-hour skills workshops.

Members of their growing community can also take advantage of upskilling opportunities through webinars, resume reviews, and other career development opportunities.

“They come for community and mental health, along with technical skills,” said Dagbo.

Learning from real life

Osan told that his own job-hunting experiences shaped the development of the platform. He had been the CTO of Philly-based startup Squareknot when it dissolved in 2018. As a result, he spent a year job hunting before finally deciding to open his dev shop.

“I remember sort of arrogantly applying for Facebook without studying, and I bombed the interview on a really stupid question — it was the nerves,” Osan explained.

“It was kind of a little scary there, learning how to interview, how to sell myself as a developer. I just wanted to sit and code. During that time, maybe a year, it was pretty intense and that’s when I learned the importance of networking.”

In 2021, Dagbo and Osan received $120,000 as part of Techstars Chicago and have partnered with CapitalOne, LinkedIn, Nike, Accenture, Google. Equipt will be also be offering its platform to Queensborough Community College and Codeup bootcamp.

The startup is currently beginning fundraising to further develop its platform as well as a mobile app.

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Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)