StartUp Box is the revolutionary social enterprise that is transforming the tech industry by creating opportunities in the South Bronx, N.Y. Majora Carter and James Chase are the unstoppable husband-wife team behind the operation, which is based in the Carter’s childhood home of Hunts Point.
By most accounts, Hunts Point is a dejected and uninspiring part of town. The neighborhood stands in stark contrast to the glittering image that New York City has cultivated for itself: poverty can be found in practically every corner and the concrete expanse is uninviting. It is certainly not a place where you’d imagine an exciting and enterprising startup would be based. But that is the whole point .
Talking with Chase, he explains his wife’s mission: “…to change the environment here because it’s ugly. And ugly environments negatively impact people’s self-esteem and self-esteem is a main driver for making good decisions in your life.”
Carter and Chase’s tech startup endeavors to end quality assurance (QA) offshoring for gaming and other tech companies by offering the service stateside with a twist. Employees of StartUp Box not only check games and websites for basic bugs but also offer consumer insight.
The young people working for StartUp Box live and breathe gaming. (The only prerequisite when applying for a job is that you are not under the age of 18.) For many, it is more than a hobby, it is a way of life — making them the perfect testers. As a result, they already have all the skills necessary to pilot games and the like.
Being part of the process from the start also offers them an unusual entry-level opportunity into the tech industry that was eliminated when QA and low-skilled jobs were sent overseas.
The service offered by StartUp Box is desired by the gaming industry because offshore QA is a major source of frustration for many companies. Why?
Chase explains the big time-differences slowed down the feedback process, wasting time and money for the companies. Furthermore, there is “…zero return on cultural competency within an entertainment context. So you can tell if a game mechanically functions to a certain extent but they don’t get any insight into, for example, whether or not the level of challenge is commensurate with the current industry.”
For some of the employees, getting their foot in the door has already led to grander job offers. The low barriers required for entry into this field of work has given everyone in the neighborhood — from ex-convicts to recent graduates — an equal opportunity to work towards a better future. And it’s giving people something to smile about.