Markell Baldwin


When working with college students, I try to help navigate them through the three phases of upward mobility: exposure, possibility, and attainability. I believe strongly in the importance of each phase because it’s the only way I can explain how I’ve arrived where I am today.

The engineering seed was planted in me as a kid when I had recurring run-ins with electronics at home. At 8, I was responsible for the basics, like wiring our TV to the VCR (connecting yellow-to-yellow!) and replacing the batteries in our smoke detectors and TV remotes. At 12, I bought a broken Playstation from a classmate and fixed it. At the time, I didn't know where my interests in technology would lead, but I also didn’t care.

Around 11th grade, I was perusing Yahoo! News and was exposed to a company that was developing a ground-breaking electric car. The car was designed to be fast, attractive, and solve a sustainability need.

College provided me with a glimpse of what’s possible. It was exactly what I needed to ignite my efforts to study and build the ultimate resume. There were a lot of encounters with people I call “guides”. These guides redirected, encouraged, and empowered my efforts towards my goal of working at that company I discovered in high school. Without those guides and opportunities, like an academic boot camp for minority engineers, I would not have survived; much less thrived.

The sense of attainability is often elusive. It can seem possible that someone can do it, but it may not feel attainable that I, personally, can do it--until it happens. Moving to Silicon Valley and making an impact at that innovative company, Tesla, was a dream come true.

Today, I have the chance to experience those feelings all over again. From the discovery of venture capital to my first conversation with Drive Capital, I had no plans to leave the Bay Area. I mean, why would I!

I’m truly grateful that I was exposed to incredible opportunities and that people in my life convinced me that they were not just possible for other people, but attainable for me. Today, my goal is to be a guide for others who are manifesting their own path.