Hello. I’m Mara Zepeda.
I collaborate on a constellation of projects.
I’m the co-founder and CEO of Switchboard. We started this company because we believe that empowered networks of people helping each other lead to strong, resilient communities. Here is our founding story, an example of a Switchboard, press in Wired, and a scrapbook of our humble beginnings.
[Fun fact: I bootstrapped this company designing hundreds of calligraphy tattoos through my studio, Neither Snow.]
Along the way, we gave a TEDX talk about how the ethos of Oregon, that of quality over quantity and long-term thinking over short-term gains, embodies the future we wish to see.
Along the way, we realized progressive, values-based companies like ours, which believed our success was tied to the shared prosperity of our city, were not represented by existing “business community” organizations, so we started Business For a Better Portland. Here is the announcement, what we achieved in 2016, and a helpful article and interview.
Along the way, we learned that women-founded companies like ours had difficulty growing because they fell into a financing gap between small business loans and venture capital. In response, we started XXcelerate Fund, a revolving debt fund for women, trans, and non-binary Oregon founders. Here's an overview.
Along the way, we saw that companies like ours, that were for-profit and enabled social good, face systemic challenges so we wrote the Zebra Manifesto which gave birth to the Zebras Unite movement.
Along the way, I discovered that sex is an effective metaphor for talking about sustainability, scale, and design. “Sex & Startups” and "Sex, Husbandry, and the Infinite Scroll" are examples of this writing.
I teach workshops and speak about these endeavors and humane product design. It's all part of a much longer story that includes many collaborators and thinkers. I am often asked about how I work. Here's the answer.
Let’s hang out!