The amount of work that Black founders have to put in just to be seen or acknowledged is unacceptable, which is why Isaac Hayes III is sharing his own personal story of navigating the tech world.
“I think from a media perspective, it’s pretty tough trying to build this company and then not get the same visibility from [the] press that inferior startups are getting,” Hayes told us exclusively.
As previously reported by AfroTech, Hayes launched Fanbase to allow Black creatives the opportunity to monetize their content. Through the photo, video, and live streaming social media networking app, users can monetize posts — something that isn’t always the norm for Black creatives whose content is used across various platforms for little to no pay.
Although the app is competing against some pretty established names, Hayes says that the biggest hurdle for any startup “is always capital.”
“You can fund anything to success. In the startup world, most often, they’re given money until they crest with some level of success and then the reward comes,” he shared. “So, as a company that has only done equity crowdfunding in that traditional venture capital [space], we’ve never really had that experience to just get dropped, 15, 20, or $35 million in our lap to just build and scale.”
Holding Folks Accountable
Recently, Hayes called out TechCrunch for what he claims is a lack of support toward him as a Black founder. According to Hayes, an interview he conducted with the outlet never saw the light of day, but when an application similar to his hit the market the story was front and center.
The only difference he noticed was the color of that founder’s skin and what he calls “a terrible version” of a vertical he had built on Fanbase.
“In the beginning of the year, I did an interview with TechCrunch. We had a functionality that was gonna get released, which is our version of TikTok and the Reels concept,” Hayes explained. “The article was supposed to come out, but then it was a bunch of stalling and I didn’t think much of it until I saw the article about Fanhouse.”
After speaking with a venture capitalist about the capital that he had managed to raise with Fanbase, he soon realized that the other application had raised roughly $33 million.
“I downloaded it and saw that it was a complete terrible version of what I would try to build if I tried to do the Creator Community application,” he expressed. “But I saw that they raised like $33 million and they were getting press with all of these outlets like TechCrunch, Bustle, Bloomberg, this huge media you know. And when you actually look at the product itself, it’s a bad product.”
Getting The Story Right
For him, technology is not about the color of someone’s skin.
“Tech doesn’t have a color, it’s technology so it shouldn’t matter what color the person is, or what race or what gender or sexual orientation the person is that builds the product — it’s technology,” Hayes said. “If you’re going to be having a conversation about tech, then you need to acknowledge all the contributors to that culture.”
What’s more, he made it clear that he is not looking for acceptance or validation from outlets.
“I’m seeking what’s due. The conversation that should be saying, ‘Hey this Black man has raised the most money in equity crowdfunding, and REG CF ever, has built an enormous product from that,” Hayes said.
He concluded: “That’s a story that needs to be told.”