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.”

Posted by
Filed under: Black in America • Documentaries • Technology
February 10th, 2012
06:47 PM ET

Black in America entrepreneurs update: Angela Benton

Editor's note: Angela Benton currently runs  Black Web Media, which publishes BlackWeb20.com and was featured in CNN's documentary "Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley."

Angela recently relocated  to Silicon Valley with her family. See what's next for this full-time mom and entrepreneur.

"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.

By Angela Benton, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Since the initial broadcast of Black in America 4 in November we’ve received more than 300 applications for the newest cycle that begins on February 20th.  By now you’re probably wondering, ‘So who the heck is in the next class?!’  We have selected seven new dot com entrepreneurs to make up the next NewMe class – five African American men, one white woman and one Latina.

We thought it was going to be hard to outdo ourselves in terms of support from speakers, mentors, and sponsors, but we were wrong.  In addition to having folks like Mitch Kapor, Ben Horowitz (who was a mentor last year but was not shown in the Black in America documentary), Navarrow Wright, and Vivek Wadhwa involved again, some pretty impressive individuals have been added to the roster.

I can’t count the number of people who’ve asked me how we are able to pull off this type of program at the level we are doing it.  Aside from having a team that hustles hard, the companies that support the program financially are doing more than just cutting a check. They believe in what we are doing and are putting in sweat equity and resources too.

For instance, when we decided that it would be best for the Founders to work out of the city this time around (instead of the suburbs) so that we didn’t have to incur transportation costs, Google, our presenting sponsor for 2012, stepped up.  Not only were they fine with changing the location from the Googleplex in Mountain View to San Francisco, they also made it possible for us to work out of the HUB SoMA for the year.  The HUB SoMA is an amazing co-working space in the heart of one of San Francisco’s bubbling start-up districts that caters to organizations who are setting out to do good and change the world; the synergy couldn't be better.

Tagged is throwing the Founders a welcome party, HP is hosting the mid-way checkpoint (which is the beginning of the push for Founders to get ready for Demo Day), Wilson Sonsini is allowing us to send Founders that need it to their long standing Entrepreneurs College, and Gunderson Dettmer is providing regular weekly legal office hours.  NewMe would not be such a strong program without things like this that directly add to the Founders being successful.

Posted by
Filed under: Black in America • Documentaries • Technology