In March of 2018 I decided that the upcoming accelerator would be my last. It had been 7 years and NewME had already become, and made far more impact, than I had ever imagined. It started out as a project that took on a life of it’s own that I had to develop into a self-sustaining business. I learned a lot of life lessons but most importantly I learned a lot of business lessons from that process. I’m proud of the path we paved but, in 2018, looking at the landscape of activity around black tech the work seemed duplicative.
When I got the all clear from my Oncologist in the Fall of 2016 that I was cancer-free I had to regroup. I had so many questions after facing what can be a terminal disease for so many. What did I want to do with my life? What was my real purpose? And, most importantly - a question that we all overlook and take for granted: How was I going to spend the time that I had left? I’ll admit, even though I had accomplished so much up to that point it felt like I was starting over. Through my cancer experience I had gained so much perspective on life, new hobbies, and new ways of living like veganism. Having a successful life no longer meant just doing well in business. I wanted to be deliberate and mindful about building a new life, post cancer… a new me if you will. If you follow me on social media…..
I'll be honest, making the decision to start blogging again was a bit nerve wrecking for me. I haven't blogged since I moved on from Black Web 2.0, an online publication I started in 2007 to amplify what Blacks were doing in technology, and the first of it's kind. From that work I know how hard (and consistent) you have to be but this time I decided to do it differently.
I decided to blog this time around to share more about my life... new projects that I'm working on, things that I'm excited about, and more. While I love social media (click the links in my footer to follow me :)) sharing my thoughts here seem more personal... and permanent. I can't promise that I'll be consistent but I can promise you that when I decide to post it will be something interesting, and hopefully something that can help you in your own life as well.
Working with entrepreneurs has been one of the most interesting things I've done in my career. Particularly because I've been working in this space for nearly 10 years, before it was cool and your friends and family actually looked down on you for striking out on your own. Over the past 4-5 years there has been a surge in interest but there are a ton of misconceptions floating around. To be frank and from my perspective, a lot of these misconceptions are in communities of color.
Launching a company of your own starts out like any love story. There's the initial spark that you have for an idea; then, after spending some time with it, that idea either turns into a full-fledged passionate love affair or quickly fades. For most of us it's the former. With 60 percent of millennials considering themselves entrepreneurs it's easy to fall hard and fall fast. The "je ne sais quoi" of entrepreneurship can be more than intriguing.
Over the years I've worked with hundreds of minority and women entrepreneurs in the tech industry and they all have one thing in common. They all want to make money. That's not to say they don't have other personal goals for their business like impact, helping others, etc.
Being a leader is more than sitting at the head of the table. It's creating a vision that inspires others to work toward. As a startup leader, your task is to create that vision and keep your team motivated to achieve it.
I think we both agree that startups need money to grow. Most startups know this and spend a good about of their time and energy focused on raising money. One thing I've noticed is no one ever talks about what to do after you raise that money.... or better yet, mistakes you need to avoid.
It's no secret that diversity amongst tech companies is a hot topic. There seems to be so much talk about it that it can easily confuse folks on the outside looking in on the actual progress that is being made.
Running a startup can be crazy and chaotic at times. I meet with founders everyday that come in bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and after a few years with their nose to the grindstone, they look worn out, tired, and unhealthy (physically and mentally).Here are a few tips on how to keep it together when you're in startup mode:
I was scared out of my mind to start my first business. I had a cozy 9-to-5 and more responsibilities than I needed. It took a while to get into the right mental space to actually believe that I could do it. Getting into the right mindset is so important, not just when you are starting a business, but also staying in that early stage mindset as your business grows.
The growth of technology and how it’s augmenting not just “business as usual” but also our day-to-day lives has often been compared to the Industrial Revolution. That time period was one of huge growth for America and produced, indisputably, the most successful and innovative entrepreneurs of our time including Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and Carnegie. Their businesses focused on the infrastructure and commodities of the future. Translate that to today, it can only equal technology, after all it is our future.
Today when we think about entrepreneurship, we tend to think about the big wins—the large rounds of financing, the huge IPOs. Facebook and other recent phenoms have become our go-to success stories.