Ninja Innovation - Black Enterprise

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Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

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A ninja, a Jedi, and a rock star walk into a bar. They take one look around and walk back out.

If you have no idea why ninjas and Jedis would be socializing, or pivoting, you’re probably clueless about the interactive software technology buzz across the country.

If the business news around Facebook, Instagram, and Groupon hasn’t clued you in yet, you need to be informed: We are living in unprecedented times in which entrepreneurs who have little or no money build empires out of thin air only to exit them 18 months later as millionaires. Or, they retain their equity and iterate, hoping to go down in Silicon Valley history as a legend on par with Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.
The only problem with that equation: African Americans don’t fit the mold. They don’t match the pattern. They’re not in the pipeline. They aren’t fundable. Or so “they” say.

Less than 1% of founders who receive venture capital are black. There is obviously a problem in the hi-tech software industry when there aren’t more black entrepreneurs with bankrolls.

But since 2010, that stat from CB Insights has been pounded into our brains over and over again until you start to wonder, “Aren’t there any successful black-owned and -operated tech companies?” You bet. And that’s what this article is all about: a celebration of the black tech renaissance.

Here we highlight a few digital mavens from the Bay Area to Brooklyn in industries as diverse as gaming, fashion, banking, and romance. Read on to see how they are shredding stereotypes with their nunchakus and light sabers.

Benjamin Young

The Muscle
In college, Benjamin Young started off in engineering but fell in love with computer science. He also started off weighing 175 pounds, but about seven years after graduating ballooned to 240. He shed the weight but retained his affinity for coding, which came in handy when he and his co-founders, Greg Coleman and Boomie Odumade, started Nexercise, an iPhone/Android app that encourages physical activity through competition, social support, and rewards both real and virtual. When the three partners saw that there was a market need, the former Wharton Business School classmates revisited the idea after graduation. Two years later, Nexercise’s 500,000 users are logging 700,000 minutes of physical activity per day.

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Join the Conversation

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.


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