Over the past couple of weeks, I have been following the heated online discussions and twitter conversations about CNN’s documentary, Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley, which profiled Black entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and aired last night. In response to some preliminary clips that were distributed, we have seen a defensive and candid post by Michael Arrington, a rebuttal by Soledad O’Brien, and many very thoughtful and astute posts like Curtiss Pope’s How Black Entrepreneurs Can Succeed in Silicon Valley, and Ameen Safir’s How Pattern Matching Can Work for Minority Entrepreneurs.
As a half-Puerto-Rican, half-Black, American, female entrepreneur, who grew up in Germany and now lives in Canada (yes, you can tick off quite a few boxes with me :-) I have to say a sincere “Thank You” to Mike, Soledad, and all the other Black entrepreneurs who have participated in this online discussion! Through this conversation, I have discovered several other minority entrepreneurs and have read about their innovative ventures. What I have most appreciated about many of the posts in this aftermath is the focus on building a solid business!
I am a serial entrepreneur. My first start-up sold, the second one was too early to market and was tabled, the third one has turned into a “lifestyle business” and is growing modestly and bringing in revenues, the fourth one was only a feature and never meant be a business, and I’m currently launching my 5th, an innovative digital and social publishing platform. I cannot claim to speak for other black, Latino, or female entrepreneurs. However, I can speak personally to the satisfaction of building something “meaty” that has the potential of truly disrupting business-as-usual. And, as someone who has been down this path a few times, it is not as easy as many suggest.
I, too, am currently raising the next round of financing (as a start-up CEO, when are you not doing this?!). And, I sincerely hope that the financing I receive is based on my business and the potential it has to give investors (and me!) a HUGE return. I do NOT want to be “given” anything simply because I represent a “diversity quota”. I want to be backed by investors who believe in what I am building and believe that my business deserves their support!
Once again, thank you Mike, Soledad, and all the others for recognizing that the issue is much bigger than race, gender, geo-location, or whatever. Yes, we all bring our cumulative, personal experiences to each of our ventures and that diversity of perspectives should add value to each new opportunity. That said, it is ultimately about building a truly disruptive, innovative and solid business. I firmly believe I am building such a business and my job, as is the job of any entrepreneur, is to sell everyone I can on my vision, the business potential and my ability to deliver everything I say and more! No less, and hopefully a lot more!