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Concrete Rose's Sean Mendy Explains How Growing Up In Silicon Valley Shaped His Worldview

Black people deserve more seats at the table in tech, and Sean Mendy is on a mission to make it possible! Sean Mendy is the co-founding partner of Concrete Rose, a company that invests financial and social capital into groundbreaking ventures led by underrepresented founders of color. They are also committed to founders who have demonstrated a solid commitment to creating inclusive cultures and building out diverse teams. Mendy’s journey is often unheard of as he grew up in Silicon Valley and is now taking his knowledge to help equip Black people with more access to positions in the tech space.

Jan 5, 2022

Plexo Capital's Lo Toney Dispells Silicon Valley Myths On The Black Tech Green Money Podcast

There are many myths about Silicon Valley, but AfroTech’s Black Tech Green Money is here to get to the bottom of it. As the founding managing partner of Plexo Capital, an institutional investment firm that was incubated and spun out of Google Ventures (GV), Lo Toney knows what it means to be on both ends of the table, whether it’s being a venture capitalist (VC) or operating a startup. “There are a lot of similarities,” he said during the episode of Black Tech Green Money (BTGM) podcast. “We think about it all the time, both in terms of how we operate and communicate the message of Plexo Capital, but also what we look for in other early-stage firms in general partnerships that we want to invest into.” When it comes to what they’re looking for in a startup, he further explained that the market size, along with the problem that is solved, the solution and how it will fit into the overall competitive landscape are some of the key elements that encourage a VC to invest. “Most...

Nov 23, 2021

After Clarence Bethea Used Silicon Valley Naysayers As Motivation, His Startup Closed An $18.2M Funding Round

As the founder and CEO at Upsie, Clarence Bethea has the magic sauce when it comes to securing funding. During the latest episode of AfroTech’s Black Tech Green Money (BTGM), he shares how he managed to raise an $18.2 million funding round thanks to his perseverance. He also breaks down what Silicon Valley looks like for Black companies and founders — an experience that surely came with lessons. “I remember we had like 80 Silicon Valley investors there and it was a hard lesson for me to learn,” he shared about one particular experience with the Village Capital program. “They didn’t give a damn about me and it was clear that I meant nothing to them. I was just a Black guy in the room.” Clarence Bethea also recalls a sobering experience with an investor during his time in the program. “I actually had an investor say to me, ‘Clarence, I’ve never seen a Black founder go to exit or IPO at like a billion-plus exit. So, I just have a hard time believing that a Black founder can build a big...

Sep 7, 2021

Barack Obama's Former Speechwriter Wants To Help Black Creators Find And Amplify Their Voice

The innovation of Black entrepreneurs is unmatched! As the CEO at Nēdl , the AI-powered search engine for live audio broadcast, Ayinde Alakoye knows a thing or two about creating processes that make our lives easier. Alakoye created Nēdl , to serve as a place where Black people could find their voices and ensure that it’s heard by the masses. “This is a product that is founded by Black people to give Black voices a platform,” shared Alakoye on the latest episode of Black Tech Green Money with host Will Lucas. Nēdl elevates Black voices across all sorts of channels and spheres so that we are heard. The live audio platform allows anyone to create a live call-in radio show that also transcribes, amplifies, and monetizes words as they are spoken. It also serves as an AI-powered search engine for live audio broadcasts. “I think the voice is the unique proposition,” said Alakoye as he explained the value of his product and why it’s so important for Black creators from all walks of life....

Jul 13, 2021

Hajj Flemings Created Rebrand Cities To Help Founders Build From Where They Are

You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to build a tech empire thanks to innovators like this! Hajj Flemings is the founder of Rebrand Cities, a global design partnership created with with a goal to get 10,000 small businesses online. “I think historically if you look at the DNA of Black and Latinx people, we have always had a creative DNA in us,” said Flemings on the latest episode of Black Tech Green Money with host Will Lucas. “We’re typically in a situation where there are high barriers of entry, there are access issues, but still we always figure out a way to do more with less,” he continued. For Flemings, it’s super important that Black founders and creatives understand that they don’t have to flee to Silicon Valley just to make their entrepreneurship dreams come true. He shares insight on what founders can do if they do decide to stay in a place where it seems things like building an app can’t be done. “In all of these cities, there are anchors,” Flemings...

Jun 22, 2021

Bandwagon's Harold Hughes Says Building  Community Plays A Huge Role In A Startup's Success

Community is where the money resides! Harold Hughes is the founder and CEO of Bandwagon, the venture-backed identity infrastructure company helping customers to transparently aggregate, manage and store valuable consumer identity data, and he stresses the importance of community when building your company. “The value of community is the fact that you can bring community anywhere,” Harold Hughes told host Will Lucas on the latest episode of the Black Tech Green Money podcast. He also shares that when you build up a trusted brand, the people will follow and suggests that founders “start with one thing that people are going to pay you for.” From there, he says figuring out who that group is will determine the capacity in which your brand will be shared with the masses. “Creating [a] community allows you to do a lot of stuff better,” said Hughes. When he initially set out to begin building Bandwagon, he shares how he posted his company goals to Facebook which in turn created a sense of...

Jun 1, 2021

Award-Winning Entrepreneur Anita Gardyne is Revolutionizing Care Through Her Tech Platform Onēva

At some point in our lives, we’ll all need to understand the importance of access to care. For Anita Darden Gardyne, that moment has come through Onēva — a technology platform that connects FBI-background checked caregivers to people who need them. “Learning that we were going to have baby boomers who would retire at some point in their lives was something that I became aware of at an early age,” said Gardyne in an interview with AfroTech. “The need for job creation for people who look like us is what Onēva is all about.” As a tech czar, she has spent years working with companies like Microsoft and held leadership positions including roles as CFO at Quantum (Seagate). It’s these same roles that Gardyne says prepared her to own and operate her own technology company.   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Onēva (@onevainc) “Those roles absolutely prepared me for many years,” she continued. It also equipped me with the knowledge of the audience for this corporate structure....

Mar 23, 2021

Atlanta's Black Techies Are Cultivating a Space to Compete With Silicon Valley's Tech Giants

Silicon Valley’s tech giants are looking to prioritize diversity in their companies, and so they’re setting their sights on Atlanta’s hub of Black talent populating the industry. In light of last summer’s nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, big-name American corporations scrambled to pledge their support toward more diversity, equity, and inclusion —  common-use terms that have become core values more popular than ever before. Among these corporations, the tech world also realized they had a major diversity problem to fix. As a result, companies like Microsoft, Airbnb, Apple and Google all announced expansion plans or major investments in Atlanta, AJC reports. Why some may ask? Simply put, Atlanta has historically been known for being a majority Black city and now it’s emerging as tech’s leading driver of economic growth as Black techies migrate to the city. “People are walking around Silicon Valley and other cities trying to solve diversity, but those aren’t diverse cities to...

Mar 7, 2021

Rhett Lindsey Left Six-Figures Behind to Solve the Market Need For Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Recruiting

“As a Black queer man in tech I never really was invited to have a seat at the table,” shares Rhett Lindsey, former Facebook and Tinder recruiter making waves in Silicon Valley through his new app. Siimee (see-me) is a new recruiting platform designed to help job seekers and employers by focusing on who people are, not what they are in order to change a system that needs work when it comes to hiring people from all walks of life. Lindsey joined us via Zoom and shared his passion for getting HR & Recruiting right through his new platform, where companies get it wrong in the hiring process, and what about building something from the ground up brings him joy. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Siimee™️ (@siimee_app) AfroTech: What inspired you to create Siimee? Rhett Lindsey: I wanted to build an inclusive platform, specifically in a tech startup environment that truly focuses on recruitment, outreach, and job...

Feb 5, 2021

Meet Mercedes Bent, the Partner Who's Becoming Black Founders' Listening Ear in Silicon Valley

As a Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners — a multi-stage venture firm with offices around the world including places like Southeast Asia and right in Silicon Valley — Mercedes Bent understands the values that she brings to the tables of the founders she works with. During her chat with Black Tech Green Money’s Will Lucas, Bent speaks about engagement between VCs and startup operations, her approach beyond just focusing on bottom-line returns when it comes to her investments, and recommendations for how founders should select their potential investors. Bent is extremely passionate about the Fintech, Edtech, and Consumer spaces within the industry and notes that “if we want to see equality and economic prosperity, a lot of that has to come from financial inclusion.” As a past operator, Bent understands the empathy needed to connect with a founder on a proper level and the mindset that they have when working tirelessly to keep things afloat. “I always ask my founders what their...

Dec 15, 2020

CEO Ruben Harris Uses His Story to Help People Transition Into Tech on His Platform Career Karma

If you’re someone looking to launch a career in tech or make the transition into the industry, Ruben Harris and his team at Career Karma are your guys! AfroTech’s Will Lucas had the chance to sit down with the Bay Area transplant from Atlanta, Georgia to discuss how the app helps job training programs find qualified applicants. As the CEO and co-founder of Career Karma and someone who was once like the job seekers looking for an opportunity within their respective fields, Harris first broke into his career within technology after writing a viral blog post called Breaking Into Startups. It was this blog post that showed how he was able to move to San Francisco without a job before landing a position just three weeks later. During the Black Tech, Green Money podcast, Harris shares how he used his same motivation and hunger for breaking into tech to develop his platform in response to the thousands of emails that followed the viral post with other users hoping to have the same success....

Nov 17, 2020

Big Tech Has the Power to Ignite Change on Behalf of Black-Owned Businesses

As we’re approaching nearly week three of public protests against racism and police violence in America, companies are searching for ways they can show their support for the Black community. The racial divide amongst Americans in our institutions is more clear than it’s ever been and people are demanding to know what brands and companies are doing to take action during this time. According to Tech Crunch , these public outcries for change leave out Silicon Valley’s role in how they can help combat systematic racism in the tech industry. Tech Inclusion stated , “the great promise of inclusion in tech is that companies will benefit from a more innovative workforce and the competitive advantages that come with it.” Notorious for their lack of diversity, big-name tech companies are scrambling to offer support beyond donations and public statements. What’s needed is structural change and with the right plan of action, Silicon Valley has the power to help diversify the industry by taking...

Jun 8, 2020

Ready to Launch Your Startup? Here are Five Ways to Raise Capital

Launching a company is difficult, and limited funding is the most common barrier to entry to the startup world. Do you have a great idea, but you’re trying to figure out how to fund it? Are you already running a startup, but cash is running out fast? Here are some ways to raise capital for your startup: Save Money Saving money isn’t easy, but it’s the most straightforward way to raise funds for your business. If you’re still working a regular full-time job, commit to saving a part of your current salary to help fund your dreams. Review your monthly expenses and eliminate unnecessary expenses like subscriptions and expensive lunches. If you live with roommates or a significant other, consider sharing expenses to reduce cost per person. This might include shopping in bulk, sharing an Amazon Prime account (or any subscription for that matter), and taking advantage of family memberships at the gym. If you’re already committed to your startup on a full-time basis, you should be auditing...

Jan 13, 2020

This Former Intuit Exec is Building an App for Busy Parents

Know any Swahili? Then you’ve probably already noticed that “ujama” looks a lot like the Swahili word for “extended family.” That’s what Hugh Molotsi and the Ujama team are trying to create for America’s busy parents. Childhood Molotsi was born and raised in Zambia to South African parents, who were Apartheid-era exiles. His father wanted him to become a dentist but, after high school, he attended the University of Southern Mississippi to study computer engineering. Before university, Molotsi had never written a single line of code, but he quickly realized that he enjoyed programming. He would later attend Santa Clara University for graduate studies and intern at tech giant Hewlett Packard (HP). Career After graduate school, Molotsi joined HP as a full-time employee. “Working at HP, I discovered that I really enjoyed software and applications much more than being deep in the guts of the inner workings of a computer. So, I started to gravitate towards building front-end...

Jan 2, 2020

Los Angeles is the New Home of Large-Scale Venture Capital Funding

While Los Angeles has long been known as a prime locale for seed funding, the latest financial trends reveal that times are changing. Tinseltown is now becoming a place for startups to pursue more expansive venture capital funding , a distinction previously unique to the San Francisco Bay Area. A look at performance statistics of LA venture capitalists offers some insight. California early-stage ­funder Amplify notes that within the last decade, LA startups have raised more than $35 billion , ranking second only to their Silicon Valley counterparts in a 10-year U.S. venture capital funding overview. According to Pitchbook, Los Angeles funders have now raised approximately $12 billion in venture capital from 627 funding efforts in 2019 , landing fifth place in national ranking. Pitchbook noted one of the reasons for the emerging trend. “Until recently, the city’s venture capitalists have been best known for seed rounds in a region that is home to only a few large firms. However, the...

Dec 17, 2019