Co-Founders (AKA how Silicon Valley failed to succeed)
Austin Dean Ashford, Jeb Brown, Gerard Canonico and Amber Iman
Number of Acts: 2
Number of Principals (Male): 1
Number of Principals (Female): 1
Preferred Ensemble Size: 6
Total Cast Size: 8
2 keys, drums/percussion, guitar, bass, 2 horns
Genre & Style:
Co-Founders is the story of two unlikely partners chasing impossible entrepreneurial dreams. Esata, a Black woman from Oakland, and Conway, a small town college dropout, take on the most competitive startup accelerator in Silicon Valley – where the privileged make a killing while the people across the bridge grind to survive.
Co-Founders started in 2016 as a weekly freestyle rap session in Oakland and San Francisco among friends who saw meaning in getting vulnerable and celebrating the grit of Bay Area artists and entrepreneurs. The show has grown through five versions with over 10 staged performances and workshops at Bay Area theatres including ODC and A.C.T., with selections at Netflix, Slack, Stanford, 500 Startups, Silicon Valley Fashion Week and the SF Palace of Fine Arts. Rhyme Combinator’s mission is to champion positive entrepreneurial culture through creative media. We believe any kid, regardless of color or class, can be the next Zuckerberg.
Concert at Joe’s Pub Spring 2022
5 Things You Should Know
- Co-Founders started as a weekly freestyle rap session in Oakland and San Francisco among friends who saw meaning in getting vulnerable and celebrating the grit of Bay Area artists and entrepreneurs. It grew into a musical with the help of Anthony Veneziale, co-creator of Freestyle Love Supreme (with Lin-Manuel Miranda).
- The show is inspired by real life experiences of the writers who all happen to be entrepreneurs (Black women from Oakland and a white guy from Silicon Valley). All characters in the musical are entrepreneurs — from the Uber driver, to Esata’s mom, to the founder of the tech accelerator.
- This musical has had a non-traditional development path through Rhyme Combinator, previewing selections at tech venues like Netflix, Slack, Stanford, and Silicon Valley Fashion Week, while earning millions of views online with viral rap cartoons, and staging readings at Bay Area theatres like ODC and A.C.T.
- Co-Foundershas drawn support from Bay Area rap legends including Blackalicious, Mac Mall and Hieroglyphics, as well as Silicon Valley tech icons Reid Hoffman, Justin Kan and Ben Horowitz. Our visual director patented a new hologram technology. The show is bridging the cultures of tech and hiphop in real life.
- We are seeking an innovative theatre partner for production — one who is excited to develop a format built for the digital generation’s attention span — folding digital media, holograms and tech culture into a live theatrical story of the American dream.