The discussion around the lack of diversity in tech continued with the first White House Demo Day. Whether it is within the Silicon Valley workforce, venture capitalist circles, or among founders of tech startups, blacks are having a hard time penetrating the world of innovation, which is run almost entirely by white and Asian men.
Black Enterprise asked three veteran CEOs with proven track records in the tech industry to talk about their experiences with racism and discrimination. Here are their responses.
Corey J. Stanford, Founder/CEO
Founder/CEO, Blazetrak, a video response platform for music professionals Founder/CEO, Para Music Group, a technology platform used to discover talent and engage fans
Have you experienced racism while trying to build your company?
I haven’t experienced any blatant form of racism in Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley. However, I do feel as though our capital raising efforts were not successful due to the fact that we were a minority startup. We had verifiable proof of concept and were cashflow positive, and we still were not able to raise sufficient capital. We even went as far as making one of the co-founders, who is Caucasian, the CEO of the company for the purposes of opening doors. Our efforts were still unsuccessful.
When you’re running a black startup, it is automatically assumed that your service or product will be less than stellar. This assumption is made by many races, including the black race. This puts you at a disadvantage before you even walk through the door to take a meeting. Some perceive it as a racist gesture while others perceive it simply as a lack of exposure to black startups. I can personally count hundreds of times where I’ve gone to a tech conference, spoken on a tech panel, and participated in tech competitions and was the only person of color in the entire room.
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