In their own words: BIA entrepreneur updates
Entrepreneurs featured in CNN's documentary "Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley."
February 11th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

In their own words: BIA entrepreneur updates

Editor's note: All eight entrepreneurs featured in CNN's documentary "Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley," wrote updates about what's happening now and what's yet to come.

"Black in America: The New Promised Land, Silicon Valley" re-airs on CNN, February 11 and 12 at 8p.m., 11 p.m., and 2a.m. ET. Keep the conversation going on Twitter with #BlackinAmerica.

Angela Benton
“To say that it’s been a whirlwind since Wayne and I decided to put together NewMe in 2011 would be an understatement. It continues to amaze me when I think about where my life has gone, both personally and professionally, in under a year.  Especially considering my life wasn’t too shabby to begin with!  Since the NewMe Accelerator wrapped up in August I decided to move my family to Silicon Valley so that working on NewMe would be more manageable.

The number of opportunities that have been brought to the table have been nothing short of God’s work and plan.  I would have never thought that I’d get the chance to experience such a wide spectrum of my work, from visiting people and communities in the Hunter’s View neighborhood in San Francisco (probably the most Black people I’ve seen in the whole city at one time) to having engaging meetings with multi-billionaires on the future of NewMe.  You can check out a full update on what we’ve been doing on that front here.

So far the transition has been fairly smooth. There have been bumps in the road but that’s to be expected when you relocate 3,000 miles.  My kids enjoy it here so I don’t think I could have asked for anything more than that.   Right now I’m excited and focused on the new NewMe program that will begin on February 20th, as well as scaling and developing what we’ve built.... exciting times right now! :)”

Hajj Flemmings
“My start-up Gokit has pivoted and we are excited about launching in March during SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas.  Our product will allow users to create profiles and capture and share life experiences through personas. Gokit’s new direction will also feature mobile apps, for iPhone first, then Android, to enable users to curate their stories and experiences. I have also been speaking a lot in the Michigan market to audiences regarding startups and the startup economy.”

Anthony Frasier
“Since leaving the NewME house I have been on a constant grind. We released a mobile app for my start-up Playd on the iOS app store and on the Android Marketplace. I have been working on Playd day and night to deliver an experience gamers love. We are planning new iterations and I plan to reveal new partnerships soon. I also started BrickCityTech.org which is a tech meetup I co-founded based in Newark, NJ. The idea is to bring some of that same energy from Silicon Valley back to New Jersey, and we partnered with New Jersey Institute of Technology to help us make that a reality. People have been asking me if I will move to Silicon Valley since the airing of the show. My answer: eventually. When I came home I had to establish something here, and right now that is where my focus is. Of course I'll still be flying back and forth, and I hope to be fortunate enough someday to have a home in both locations. I told Soledad I wouldn't leave my city empty handed, and I meant it.”

Pius Uzamere
“In January, our start-up BeCouply launched a new subscription service called BeCouply Dates that sends couples on amazing dates every month. So far, the service has gotten rave reviews from our first San Francisco subscribers and we've got hundreds of couples on the waiting list across the country. In addition, several thousand couples are on the waiting list for the iPhone app that we'll be launching in the next few months. Finally, we closed additional venture capital funding in January.”

Hank Williams
“Since the documentary aired, my start-up Kloudco is still in private testing. We have been testing for both bugs and user satisfaction. In the process we have refined the Kloudco feature set and look and feel based on user feedback and are now pretty excited because we think we have nailed the product experience. The underlying technology is much more complex than a typical website because of the volume of data we are designed to manage, so our next steps involve simulations with more data, and testing with larger numbers of users before opening the doors to the public.”

Wayne Sutton
“After the first NewMe Accelerator cycle ended, I returned home to Raleigh, North Carolina. I spent time reflecting on what I could have done better to take advantage of the NewMe opportunity. After a brief hiatus and family time I decided to buckle down and work on my web design and coding skills, along with working with Angela to keep the vision of the NewMe Accelerator going. Soon after that, I realized to achieve my startup dreams, it was best for me to relocate to San Francisco, California. I'm now living in San Francisco, working on both NewMe Accelerator and NewMe Community projects and getting ready for a new set of entrepreneurs to join the NewMe Accelerator.”

Tiffani Bell
“My start-up Pencil You In is currently in the process of releasing its iPhone, iPad, and Android apps. With a new developer onboard, the company is now helping stylists and barbers in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Australia to accept appointments online.”

Crisson Jno-Charles
“Our start-up Fetchmob is being re-designed to cater to less well-defined communities. The next major release will occur next month.”

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Filed under: Black in America • Documentaries • Technology
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Electrician

    Excellent post. I will be dealing with some of these issues as well.

    September 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lisbeth Caiaffa

    I thought the epic expose of the hardships and paradox of minorities was moving, educating, and eye opening for me. I felt determination, commitment, passion from each of the team members. Their life stories were the biggest business presentation. Anthony and Angela stoop up for me. I love the part of Anthony going to meet young entrepreneurs meeting only to be confused for someone working for the catering company. He managed and revealed strength by focusing why he was there. I believe all of them have a driving-deep force in the heart. As American we all stand and pull together regardless or colors, ethnicity and socio-economics lifestyle. A powerful represented America around the world does not know color, race, religion, creed, or class.
    Thank Soledad, I look forward to the next NewMe Accelerator. Please let me know.

    February 13, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. B-Rad

    And this is not Racist? Really.

    February 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Larry Roberts

    Hello My name is Larry! I am not an entrepreneur .. I am recently disabled and I am African American. Solidad if you get this I have sent some letters to this new startup company. I am a former electrician. I can no longer do this . I am a single father of two children and I raise them at this time by my self. I have an Idea nex gen and future gen that I know will take off like wild fire. But I just don't have the time to do very much with it. I would create it myself but my current condition will not allow me to do this. i have contact those Idea corporations that ask people to give them there Ideas but they want money I dont have. Solidad If at all possible you can please ask this group of entrepreneurs to just allow me to pitch my Idea I think it may become the backbone of success for them and Myself. I just need an door with a knob to open and ears that will listen. They have everything I need and I believe I may have the Idea that will help them launch as one ... I hope you get this and its not held back. Sorry if I spelled your Name wrong . I am a former electrician. And A former Marine and now I am a Disabled Single Father. I am taking a chance but I believe the risk is perfect for this Idea. and Solidad this Idea though not patented by myself as yet will touch on everybodies lives everyday of every year for 100's of years to come and can be utilized in a plethora of ways. Please give me and them a chance to meet. If you need to come visit me or call me and I will tell you my Idea partially so you can make this work. Thank you in advance and yes I am African American. Just one Chance that's all I have!

    February 12, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Marcia Kelley

    I am watching to show about the blacks in technology in Silicon Valley. One investor said he could not find black companies to invest in. Also, one of the female said she didn't know many other black female programmers.

    More black children need to be guided to technology. My son is in a special program called CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies, http://www.bvcaps.org) in Overland Park, Kansas. It is an innovative program that highlights healthcare, engineering, technology solutions and more. My son is interested in video game design.

    February 12, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Noko Mokwele

    you guys are an inspiration for black people around the world. I'm busy also trying to look for funding for my tech company. But being based in South Africa, its always a challenge when you're looking for tech funders. All I can say is that may God bless you all!

    February 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Roland E. Sanchez

    Our family have always thought that Soledad was half black because she takes up so many black issues and now we are sure she is.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |