Significance Labs 2014 Fellows Announced

Our three month fellowship invited rising stars within the tech community to Solve for {S}ignificance.



The Candidates


From 150 applications, we narrowed the field to five.

They’ve spent time at great organizations like Facebook, Y Combinator, FastCompany, LinkedIn & the Harlem Children’s Zone.

They’ve built and sold multiple successful businesses.

And they each come to the program with their own story about why opportunity and equality are worth solving for.

The Design Challenge

They are now building teams to take on the Significance Labs challenge: three months to design and build a product that addresses a need of a low-income user group.

If you’re a top developer or designer , think about joining us.



Significance Labs Fellows

Ciara Byrne

Ciara has a degree in Computer Science and did academic research in Machine Learning before it was fashionable or profitable. After a long career managing software teams and products, she took a left turn into technology journalism.  Her work has appeared in Fast Company, Forbes, VentureBeat, O’ Reilly Radar, Techcrunch and The New York Times Digital. Based in Amsterdam, her interests include data science, healthtech, robots and cycling in high heels. She’s looking forward to building things again.

Jimmy Chen

Jimmy Chen loves creating new technology that brings people closer together, builds new connections, and strengthens communities. He most recently led product for Facebook Groups, a communication tool used by 7% of the world population every month. Before Facebook, he worked on professional events, news, and polls as a Product Manager at LinkedIn. Jimmy enjoys traveling, ultimate frisbee, and cheering on the hapless Kansas City Royals.

Avi Karnani & Stephanie Raill Jayanandhan

Avi works to help people make better financial decisions. He’s built and sold a startup that helped people save more and spend less, launched a service that helps address the gender-wage gap, and designed an asset building program for a US state.

Stephanie has developed partnerships to connect financial education and home internet access, led research for a documentary on the underbanked, and founded a social justice theatre company.

Together, they run Hazards & Compass, a product development and digital strategy consultancy.

Shazad Mohamed

Prior to Significance Labs, Shazad was a Product Manager on Facebook’s Growth Team where he led the Friending, Contact Importer, and Recommendation Ranking teams. Before joining Facebook, Shazad was the Co-Founder of a Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz backed mobile software company building technology for protecting the privacy and communications of smartphone users. In his free time Shazad enjoys traveling, trying new places to eat, and exploring the California coast.

Margo Wright

Margo started in tech at About.com before the first tech bubble. She then moved over to understanding the youth job market, starting and running a social enterprise and then becoming a Senior Manager at the Harlem Children’s Zone focused on college access and success. She recently made the transition back into the tech world, founding a company using technology to address college completion, and will be deepening that idea through Significance Labs.




Background to the Fellowship

It’s a non-trivial problem to build greenfield MVPs for users you aren’t familiar with. Even harder to do so in three months.

Yet it goes without saying that if we could design products that made people’s lives a little bit easier and were adopted by even a fraction of the 25 million American families living on less than $25,000 a year, we’d be making a significant difference.

The challenge has been thrown down again and again and again - we can’t just design for ourselves. There are millions for whom the American Dream is getting more and more elusive, and these people are being underserved by technology.

We need to find ways to fuse great technical product development with great user empathy and feedback and do our bit to help bring more opportunity back to America.

Our immersion program will help fellows walk the metaphorical mile in someone else’s shoes. A dozen times. Two dozen times. They’ll have a chance to notice pain points and see opportunities.

Fellowship Mailing List

Fill out the form below to join our fellowship mailing list to keep up to date about the program and find out about our next class of Fellows.