‘Black in America’: Wayne Sutton, One Year Later

Now an advisor to startups, the co-founder of NewMe Accelertor talks diversity in Silicon Valley

Working with the founders in the first and second class of NewME, I’ve heard tons of…

Advice from CEOs, engineers, developers, product managers, and marketers. One statement that has stuck with me came from the Tagged founders Greg Tseng and Johann Schleier-Smith who have know each other since middle school and launched Tagged in 2005. I asked Greg and Johann when they come to a disagreement about Tagged how do they come to a decision. Their advice was to put any personal differences aside and do what’s best for the company to keep moving the company forward.

I would say the environment in Silicon Valley has changed for the…

Better but not due to any overwhelming effort of those in Silicon Valley. But due to me moving to the Bay area [my perspective has changed]. I understand more about the community and how Silicon Valley operates. The Silicon Valley and Bay community is about being a doer and launching products, testing, failing and starting over again no matter your race or gender. It is not an equal meritocracy, but neither are things in America so let’s not point fingers at Silicon Valley but ask yourself what you can do to be successful.

The bigger question to ask…

Has the environment changed for blacks outside of Silicon Valley? Are blacks learning the right technical skills to launch a startup? Are they going to college, or using online learning platforms to better themselves, or being innovative in our rural communities?

Let’s not focus on…

Increasing the number of blacks in Silicon Valley. That was never a goal of mine. I don’t see people saying ‘How can we increase the number of whites in Atlanta or New York?’ Let’s talk about increasing the number of skilled technical black founders in America. It’s not just about Silicon Valley, but the world.

There needs to be more blacks with technical skills who can…

Code. In most cases it will take a great hacker, developer to build a product to solve a problem that disrupts a market. In that market, there are various types of races and genders. Therefore we need a diverse group of people with technical skills to look at problems around them and think how they can use technology to find the solution.

The Black In America 4 documentary was very successful at…

Shedding light on the problem. One of the reasons why we created NewME was to be examples for others. The documentary gave us a platform to do so.

I felt  CNN could have…

Shown more footage of how the founders worked during the program on their product. For example, the founders had weekly product feedback sessions, where they tested code and gave feedback on the usability of their apps. They met with more than 20 different mentors and speakers. Unfortunately, the documentary focused on a narrative from one or two mentors. One segment that I thought would have been great was if the documentary would have shown the midway checkpoint at Blue Run Ventures with Jay Jamison.

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