By Isaiah Singleton
Social platform Stratos will be officially launching March 1 to connect Black and Latinx career professionals.
Stratos users will be able to share authentic questions, advice, and feedback on career moves, whether they are actively looking for a new position or not. Users connect via different “layers,” which are industry and interest-specific areas of a growing digital community.
Co-Founder and recent graduate from Georgia State University, Johnathan Cornelius said Stratos focuses on connecting Black and Latinx professionals, whether it’s students or professionals, to career and networking opportunities.
The name “Stratos” is short for Stratosphere, according to Cornelius.
“For us, you’re going upwards and out of the earth passing through the layers,” he said. “We want to see it as a platform that’s ascending. Something that’s going up towards space, very futuristic. It made sense for us to take this to another level, another layer and that’s how we played that name up.
Additionally, Stratos is a Techstars-backed company, as it has been added to the 2023 Techstars Impact powered by Cox Enterprises Class.
Once launched, Stratos will be a web application that can be both used on desktop and mobile. There won’t be an app to download on launch day, according to Cornelius.
The Founding of Stratos
Stratos began when founders Cornelius and Christopher Grey realized that there weren’t any platforms that seamlessly integrated social networking and career opportunities adequately for Black and Latinx professionals and students.
Cornelius said he saw a “void in the market in terms of giving Black and Latinx professionals the ability to network.”
“I saw that LinkedIn wasn’t doing it super well and I’ve always seen myself as a community builder at GSU,” said Cornelius. “There’s an organization called CIRCLE at Georgia State and the whole point of that was to connect students to other like-minded students and industry professionals.”
This sparked the idea of Stratos when Cornelius began to participate in networking events and spiraled into him creating a social platform that is based on community, which stresses networking and connecting students to career opportunities.
“The career opportunities are fueled by our customers, and they are the ones that pay us to post jobs on our platform,” he said.
Cornelius said the biggest challenges throughout the process was navigating and growing a business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The market crashing, jobs going down, and just people being sheltered. Luckily, we got to the other side in one piece and now we’re in a pretty good space,” he said.
Why Should You Care?
Cornelius said Black and Latinx students and professionals should care about Stratos because “representation matters”.
“It’s one of the things that is very important to us,” he said. “We are primarily focusing on technology companies, and we know there’s a lack of representation in those groups, so taking technology professionals is number one, but we’re also bringing on business and management consultants as well because that does suffer from lack of representation in our groups.”
The purpose of Stratos, Cornelius said, is to “see others that look like you and work in the same space as you across the country.”
“LinkedIn has run into some shadow banning issues and we want to make sure your questions are answered, and your voice is heard,” he said. “This is the platform that we essentially look at it like ‘reimagining professional communication’ because the old form of communication on LinkedIn we see is a bit outdated.”
Therefore, Stratos will be focusing on micro-style conversations, which is a quicker form of communication such as Twitter and Tik-Tok clips, according to Cornelius.
“We talk in a much quicker manner and we’re trying to bring Black and Latinx professionals into the new age of social media for professionals. That’s going to be the two major points: reimagining professional communication and spotlighting representation through community,” he said.
Hopes for Stratos
Additionally, Cornelius said the Stratos brand has been around for about a year and four months, but he started working full-time on the platform back in January 2022.
His biggest hopes for the present and future, he said, is to put spotlights on groups they focus on.
“This means partnering with major organizations to both filter talent onto the platform on the user side as well as post jobs to our community,” he said. “The biggest thing for the future right now is for Stratos to hit one million users by 2025, because we believe if we hit one million users that means we are truly shining a light on our groups by providing community and career opportunities on the forefront.”
Cornelius also said he wants Stratos to have a major impact on the career side and closing the gap in leadership.
“In the next four years, we would like to see at least half a million people find jobs on our platform so that there can be anywhere from internships to full-time opportunities,” he said. “One of the things we have seen a lot of the times, the bottom half of the company can be diverse, but when you get to the top end, it lacks representation.”
Additionally, the first 1,000 people to join will receive premium access for life, according to Cornelius.
“We’re almost at 1,000, but it still applies. We’ll put you onto our newsletter list and you’ll receive emails from us with updates about the product, the team, and keeping you in the loop until we launch in March,” he said.
To sign-up for the waitlist, visit TryStratos.com
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