“Is it difficult Starting Up While Black… Ethnic, Minority?”
Closing or challenging the Divide the divide means getting others to conceptualize.
“What Do You DO.. And how come You understand This (tech)?”
Are questions I get from Others who fall in that category.
Most frequently I am asked… “What do you do?” or “ Aren’t you a Fashion designer?”
Today I Design Tech enabled solutions for the art, production, marketing & business of makers! Essentially I am helping design startups in local communities addressing the needs of Locals, Blacks, and immigrants from Caribbean, Africa, Asia and India! I am a Creative with a tech background. I am Black and “Caribbean” specifically from Trinidad and Tobago, I am mother, a member of generation X, raising a male in generation Y . I now specialize in Product Development for Lifestyle and Creative Industries.
My experience in how tech relates to Art, Video, Food, Travel, Journalism, Media, funding, financing, Distribution and resource development, came from a 10 year sting observing, mentoring, teaching and developing small local entrepreneurs in each field. My experience in Fashion and Tech is much more personal, I earned my craftsmanship at the hands of makers from across the globe.
Starting up in local communities often means going without the tech support and knowledge base those in “Silicon” clusters ;- Valley, Alley, Beach, enjoy is tough. Starting up when Black is even harder than many could imagine, it is not impossible. I assume it is the same for other ethnic and minority groups! One of the problems Pattern Matching … the new “acceptable” explanation for
My experience in the NYtech scene for the most part has been wonderful. Techies just love anyone who speaks tech… and are quick to extend and explain… sometimes repeatedly. If anything culture and pattern matching and cronyism are more of a problem. The challenge from access as a female and a mother drinking “with the boys” after events was not an option. At times getting from events to my home meant a two-three hour ordeal on NYC public transport or a $35 cab ride and arranging childcare.
I had one unpleasant experience when I discovered a seemingly “open” group had an “A-list” based on “pattern-matching”. Ever wondered how the same people seem to get access but there is always get an ‘event full” notice. Invites were first sent to these list and later to others. Apparently someone’s felt I should be invited and forwarded me the info, while someone else’s ignorance lead then to assume that I should not be given that access! The sad thing is that that person is today making decisions as to access to funding for many. Thanks to gmail I still have that chain of correspondence as a reminder of what is and that someone has to make a difference.
There was and still is a definitive culture clash… I am a Fashion Designer as per my professional training but I was certified as a Cobol Program before studying design at FIT! Most startup cofounders are young recent business school graduates… I’ve had the advantage of real world entrepreneurial experience. Many were a few years older than my son. Ever tried convincing the young that their logic lacked experience or foresight? Most of the apps I tried simply did not work in real life situation of for my target market!
I soon realized that I was able to grasp the context of discussions fairly quickly and that my real world experience gave me a unique insight! I’ve worked in several fields all of which has helped shaped my viewpoint and unique perspective on tech and its value to our community! I recognized that there were others who given the ability to understand the technology can design useful products services and merchandise especially when paired with gifted technologist and business graduates!
So what does that mean and what is my responsibility.
The question is “how do we facilitate change”. Currently I am pulling together Tibiae Tech a Change Management Startup, focused on what can be and focused on driving the type of businesses that would be relevant and STILL Innovative in 2020!
The Real Challenges
Starting Up is Not an Overnight process. It takes Dedication, Resources, Determination, Strategy and a bit of Luck. It starts with exploration and research; Cognitive or accidental that triggers an idea. During the first phase we identified a common process that all entrepreneurs must execute to increase chances of success. By the end of the first phase we had identified and developed the 28squared creative entrepreneurial program
During the second phase I was challenged to use technology to teach this process as well as create a fast paced result oriented version and 282AC was born.
As I observed the startup scene and started attending hackathons I discovered I could identify the flaws in the concept and soon recognized a pattern of abandoning concepts… similar to what designers and artist dis with their “projects”- for the same reason; lack of knowledge as to how to extract value as well as a lack of resources to quickly lift projects to viability. The Tuberiam was designed to facilitate industrial growth with tech enabled creative and lifestyle startups
Roadmap to Success
When we began I knew we had to bring local business, entrepreneurial consultants and cofounders all on the same page… and we charted a program to achieve that … during the course of execution we had to alter.
- Part 1: From Big Idea to Launch
- Part 2: The Need for Speed
- Part 3: The Business Plan is Your Roadmap
- Part 4: Making the Most of Mentorship
- Part 5: How to Choose the Right Investors
- Part 6: How Wise is Conventional Wisdom?
- Part 7: Going International
- Part 8: Managing Investors
- Part 9: Acquiring Customers
- Part 10: Building the Team
- Part 11: Motivating and Retaining Talent
My partner and I understood that we had to take our constituent and deal with their specific challenges. The Best marketing would be Great product services and merchandise. To ensure participants had the best chances of achieving this we revisited and revised the 282Ac program that had been positively tested, This time risk management was a key focus! Subsequent exploration led us to ascertain that we included
- Ø Education – Introduction to the tech startup scene, New business models, new technologies
Ø Idea conception
- Ø Research Exploration Identification of Audience,
- Ø Development- Business concept, Operation strategy, Revenue model design
- Ø Compliance check
- Ø Development of Legal business Plan
- Ø Design of Minimum Viable Product
- Ø Procurement & training/activation of Supply chain
- Ø Audience development marketing sales fulfillment
Defining Tech Enabling Startup vs Tech Startup
Certified in Cobol language 25 years ago today I do not code… Nor do I plan to in the near future, A company can master just so much in 20 hr work days. I believe in tech literacy, understanding the core, however when I design a boutique I do not expect to put the cash register together nor for that matter the shelves. Yes some business owners can do that but some tasks are best left to specialist. The ability to do so does not directly affect the business. I do, however believe it is important to understand and speak the Context of Tech fairly fluently! I could design a cash register so I “own” it or I can use the cash register out there that best suits my needs… There are so many API’s out there that we have made the decision to carefully consider adopting Api and having existing tech facilitate our goals rather than developing whenever possible! The one deterrent is the fact that many Apis keep falling short of basic usability needs!
Fashion & Tech at BonnieSandy.com @Badassebs |
Startup info at Tibiaetech.com @Tibiaetech