Joshua Driver, founder of Open for Service, received the Community Champion of the Year Award during TechPoint’s 18th annual Mira Awards honoring the best of tech in Indiana.
Indiana endured world-wide backlash because of the 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which many perceived as a license to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The response to RFRA was swift — companies and organizations pulled business from the state and threatened to leave, protests erupted, media raged and negative perceptions continued even after a revised version of the law with explicit protections was passed. The tech industry was center stage in this battle with executives from Salesforce, Angie’s List and many others warning of RFRA’s negative effect on recruiting and retaining top tech talent.
While all of this was happening, Joshua Driver was focused on demonstrating the other side of Indiana. He wanted to show the world that Hoosiers are, in fact, loving and accepting people who don’t believe in discrimination.
Almost overnight, Driver created a movement to circumvent the negativity by shifting focus to the businesses that are “Open for Service” to everyone. A tech startup veteran himself, Driver formed a partnership with Salesforce to build out the necessary infrastructure for Open For Service, an inclusive network of diversity-supporting businesses that would not turn someone away based on sexual orientation, gender, race, disability, or political/religious affiliation.
Within days, Open for Service registered 6,000+ businesses and raised $30,000 dollars for SCORE.org (a national nonprofit that provides mentorship for entrepreneurs).
The Mira Awards judges noted that throughout 2016, Open for Service continued to grow organically and through partnerships with resources and listings in all 50 states and 20 countries worldwide, expanding to include churches, organizations, employers, and consumers to celebrate inclusiveness regardless of politics.
Driver further developed the web-based directory, introduced iPhone and Android mobile apps, created an Internet of Things-based coupon system for network members, and he’s currently working with metros nationwide and several global alliances on new initiatives that propel the ideals and values of Open for Service. On September 8, 2016, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett issued a proclamation that 9/8/16 was “Open for Service Day.”
TechPoint, the growth initiative for Indiana’s tech ecosystem, honored the successes and innovation of Indiana companies, entrepreneurs, educators, and other leaders at The Westin Indianapolis during the 18th annual Mira Awards gala presented by Angie’s List, Genesys, and Salesforce.
A total of 15 award winners and three honorable mentions were chosen from the 90 outstanding companies, organizations, and individuals who were selected as nominees this year out of the 180 applications received highlighting achievements during the 2016 calendar year.
Fifty independent, volunteer judges spent more than 850 total hours reviewing and ranking applications, interviewing nominees, and selecting this year’s winners. Judges included company founders, CEOs and presidents; CTOs, CIOs and software developers; professors and chancellors from Indiana universities; design, human resources and sales professionals, and a variety of other subject matter experts.
The Mira Awards are named after the first of the brilliant variable stars to be discovered – the Mira Star. It is also the Latin root meaning “worthy of admiration, wonderful, marvelous.” The awards represent the best of tech in Indiana each year.