(CNN) - Michael Onaolapo took his startup, Zippoe, to one of the nation’s premier tech conferences, TechCrunch Disrupt, in Silicon Valley this year.
By all accounts, it had a successful run: It earned an audience choice award, and secured valuable seed money from an investor.
As Onaolapo looked around the crowded convention floor, he realized his company stood out for more than its real-estate-made-social concept.
“I think we were the only company there that was comprised of African-Americans,” Onaolapo said.
Business is hard, tech entrepreneur Mitch Kapor said. And startups? Really hard.
But he's been doing this for a while, and had plenty of advice for the NewMe Accelerator participants, whose attempt to break into the tech business are documented in "Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley." The documentary airs at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. ET on February 11 and February 12 on CNN.
Ron Conway, one of the top angel investors in Silicon Valley, offered his perspective on what he looks for in a company, too.
Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported, untold stories from undercovered communities.
Calle 13 breaks records with nine awards at Latin Grammys
"The Puerto Rican duo made history Thursday night breaking two records: for most Grammy awards won in a career and in one single night." - Fox News Latino
Black Marines of World War II to be awarded Congressional Gold Medal
"'These men, who were based out of North Carolina in World War II, served our country with courage and dedication, even in the face of discrimination and intolerance,' Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., who pushed the measure in the Senate, said." – Detroit Free Press
Editor's note: Soledad O'Brien chronicles the lives of eight African-American entrepreneurs participating in the NewMe Accelerator in "Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley," airing at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. ET on February 11 and February 12 on CNN.
By Mark Milian, CNN
San Francisco (CNN) - Wayne Sutton has been asking venture-capital investors and Silicon Valley executives a question that's not often broached here in the epicenter of the technology industry:
"Why aren't there more black people in tech?"
The vast majority of top executives at the leading Silicon Valley tech firms are white men. Women and Asians have made some inroads, but African-American and Latino tech leaders remain a rarity. About 1% of entrepreneurs who received venture capital in the first half of last year are black, according to a study by research firm CB Insights.
Read the full story
Editor’s note: Rob Smith is a writer, lecturer and openly gay U.S. Army veteran. His work has appeared in USA Today, The Huffington Post, Metro Weekly and Slate.com. His memoir "Secret Soldier: Coming of Age as a Gay Man in the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Army" will be released in the fall 2012, and he is a contributing author to "For Colored Boys ...," an anthology to be released in March. He can be reached at www.robsmithonline.com and twitter.com/robsmithonline.
By Rob Smith, Special to CNN
(CNN) - On September 20, I cheered with gay and lesbian soldiers, veterans and allies alike when “don’t ask, don’t tell” was officially repealed, signaling the seeming end of a decades-long fight against anti-gay discrimination in the U.S. military.
As a five-year veteran of the U.S. Army and a gay man, I know firsthand the discrimination and casual homophobia the law legitimized. While stationed in Colorado as a 17-year-old Army private, I struggled with suicidal thoughts due to the isolation it caused, and found myself on the receiving end of some of the anti-gay language and bullying that the mere presence of the law ingrained into the culture.
Freada Kapor Klein, founder of Level Playing Field Institute, says women have a responsibility to help Silicon Valley become a true meritocracy by working together with other underrepresented communities: "I think women, based on our experience, ought to be empathetic to the obstacles and struggles of others and ought to be the bridge builders."
Soledad O'Brien reports "Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley," at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. ET on February 11 and February 12 on CNN.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
Send Feedback | Subscribe