Last November, CNNâ€™s Soledad Oâ€™Brien explored Silicon Valley through the eyes of eight African-American entrepreneurs. All participants of the inaugural NewMe Accelerator class, the Black in America: The New Promised Land â€“ Silicon Valley cast invited viewers into their journey as startup founders competing in an industry comprised of less than 1% of entrepreneurs that look like them. BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the tech innovators to see whatÂ they’veÂ been up to one year later.
There would not be a NewMe Accelerator without Wayne Sutton. When Angela Benton of BlackWeb2.0 contacted him in 2011 for advice about launching a mobile app and how they were apart of the 1% of Â African Americans startup founders, together the team came up with the idea for a three-month accelerator. Since way before the age of Twitter, Sutton, who also blogs as and goes by the moniker SocialWayne, has been at the forefront of social media, blogging about all things tech related. Now, Sutton has many more notches on his belt and technophiles of all races turn to him for his expertise on any number of topics including location-based digital services, startup and pitch strategy, User Interface/User Interaction (UI/UX), mobile interface design, business development, and content strategy. Read ahead to learn more about why Sutton joined forces with Benton, whether the accelerator was a success in his eyes, and what’s next on his to-do list.
As co-founder of the NewMe Accelerator my vision was toâ€¦
Launch a successful program to work with the brightest minds in Silicon Valley. To help first-time and experienced minority entrepreneurs learn what it takes to build a technology startup.
Iâ€™ve learned a lot since launching and leaving NewME such asâ€¦
The importance of having great mentors andÂ advisers, along with making sure every founder of the team understands their role before moving forward with the company. Overall, the experience of launching an accelerator in Silicon Valley was priceless.
I moved to San Francisco from North Carolina in February to keep the vision of the NewME Accelerator going. I worked with another class of founders from February to May of 2012, to help develop their product, connect with mentors and prepare them to pitch their products to VC firms and press.
What many people donâ€™t know by just watching the CNN Black In America 4 documentary isâ€¦
That I was the co-founder of a mobile location-based startup in North Carolina that was founded in 2009. Thatâ€™s the startup I was working on before my former NewME partner, Angela Benton, called me asking for advice about launching a startup. After NewME started, I decided to put our NC-based startup on hold, which allowed me to focus on maintaining the accelerator. Due to the CNN cameras, I still had to pitch at the end of the program so I came up with two app ideas from July to August one being Vouch and pitched it on demo day.
If I had to do it all over againâ€¦
I wouldn’t have pitched at all. I decided not to launch Vouch. Although I liked the idea, I wasn’t passionate about it. So decided to not move forward on the idea and focus on launching the NewME Community across the country and getting ready for the 2012 class.
In May, I decided to leave NewME to launch a new company call PitchTo.co. PitchTo is a mobile development lab which builds tools for investors to make smarter decisions and help entrepreneurs deliver exceptional pitches. The vision behind PitchTo came after seeing a disconnect between founders and investors around the pitch and feedback loop.