Simple. We are a residential technology start-up accelerator/incubator for businesses that are led by under-represented minorities in the technology industry. During our first cycle in the Summer of 2011 we helped 10 minority-led businesses get a step further to success by offering them mentorship, a network of industry players, and in some cases funding.
Our program is…
12 Weeks long, twice a year (Feb-May; June-Aug)…. You can check out our Schedule or Apply
- Close-knit: Only 8 minority start-up Founders are admitted per cycle
- Fully Immersive: Founders co-live and co-work for the duration of the program making NewME one of the most intense programs around. Weekly, participants learn and get one-on-one mentorship from the industry’s elite.
- Concludes w/ Demo Day
Pencil You In
I've been programming ever since I was a little kid. When I was about six, my parents got me a V-Tech Precomputer 1000, a computer-type toy. I got bored with the games and checked out the manual, which explained ways to program with QBasic. Many years later, I ended up getting a full ride to Howard University for computer science.
I interned at IBM, then twice at HP. At IBM it was a team of all white guys. I could tell they had never worked with a woman, or a minority. They would make little jokes. It's never everybody, but it's always a few. By the end of my internship, they said I fit in because I learned to talk about Porsches and golf.
I graduated from school in 2008 and took about 18 months off. Then I picked up a job as a Web developer for my uncle's company, a government contractor. It was fun, but I always thought about doing my own thing. I kept coming back to an idea I had in college. During my senior year, I was really busy and it was tough to make an appointment with my hairstylist. First he missed the call, then I missed the call and we were playing phone tag for a while.
That's how I came up with Pencil You In: a site where people can book salon appointments online, making the process much easier for customers and businesses. We also help salons expand their social media presence on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Coming in as a double minority -- a black woman -- has been tough in the tech space. It's also hard being located in North Carolina. I live about an hour from Raleigh and Durham, where there's a pretty healthy VC community. But the tech scene there is just as homogenous in some respects, plus you just don't have the access to people like you do in Silicon Valley. It's been great to talk to these big names -- and to show that a lot of us in the tech space might not fit the image of what you'd expect.
"I've started several tech companies. My biggest was an Internet radio company called Clickradio, which I launched in 2000. It was somewhat like Pandora; you could give a song a thumbs up or thumbs down, and learn more about the artist. We scored licensing deals with the big five music studios and secured $40 million in funding.
But when the dot-com bubble began to burst, Clickradio wasn't able to reach full velocity. I left the company in early 2001. That was disappointing, but it's just another in a long string of ventures for me.
My current company is Kloud.co, which puts all your personal data in the cloud and lets you search it. It's like a Google search engine for your information universe. You can explore your e-mails, tweets, documents, contacts, calendar and more.
We're starting with this consumer product, but I definitely plan to expand into companies. It does seem like the way to get attention is to start with consumer and move to enterprise.
Four years ago, I was trying to do research before my first day at a new job about what black-focused companies were doing in the tech space. I checked all the tech blogs, and I could barely find anything -- even about big companies like BET, which is owned by Viacom.
In response, I started Black Web 2.0 in 2007. It's solely about what African-Americans are doing in technology and new media. It really took off and developed a strong community that exists to this day.
Wayne Sutton was an early reader, and he and I developed a relationship via social media. We talked a lot about how it seemed like people were waiting for something. That they felt physically disconnected from the strong startup environment in Silicon Valley. That people needed someone to step up.
We got the idea of creating a "startup house" to get people out to California, and that eventually morphed into NewMe. Wayne and I put the whole thing together in three months, which shows how well we work together as a team.
Running the accelerator and my own startup has been a lot to balance, and some days are better balanced than others. I'm working on Cued, an app that gives you recommendations based on where you are, what you like and your past experiences. For example, if you tell Cued that you like a specific bar and you also like karaoke and draft beer, the system will make recommendations for more places you'll like
Last year I quit my job at a hedge fund to start my own company with a co-founder, who happens to be my girlfriend Alisa Boguslavskaya.
A friend of ours in North Carolina was in a lot of pain and needed to pick up some Tylenol, but he didn't have a way to get there. It would've been great if someone who lived in his area and was already out shopping could have bought Tylenol for him.
So Alisa and I founded Fetchmob, a site where users can post shopping requests for friends to take on. Maybe your friend is at the grocery store and wouldn't mind picking up some tomatoes for you. Or you could drop off an item for another student in your dorm. It's all about making it simpler to help your friends and people who live near you.
I'm so excited about the idea of the accelerator. [Tech entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa has said] we need a black Zuckerberg. Not one or two minor successes; someone who just takes any misconceptions and smashes them to bits.
I am all about personal branding. I have an 11-month-old daughter, and I told my wife that if the domain name was taken, we're not naming her Kennedy!
I hail from the great Midwest -- Detroit specifically -- and I love it. People might be surprised to hear it, but Detroit is really starting to build a startup ecosystem. Still, it's nothing like the environment in Silicon Valley. I knew that if I wanted to get a startup off the ground, I needed to get out and go to events.
It's so cliche, but I literally launched my startup on a napkin at South by Southwest this past year. It's called Gokit, and it's a one-stop shop for your professional online platform. It encompasses who you are professionally, personally and socially -- and puts it all in a package that's downright sexy to look at and share.
I'm turning the big 4-0 this year, and I always joke that I'm AARP old in startup years. I'm nontraditional in that sense, but I see it as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.
I'm a partner in NewMe, along with Angela Benton. A bunch of us startup types knew each other via Twitter. We're all from different parts of the country, and we knew the best way to get funding was to be in Silicon Valley.
We were also interested in different types of minorities getting a voice. It's true that race was a main cause, but we're also talking about women and other groups that are underrepresented in the tech space.
We started kicking around the idea of an accelerator back in February, and the whole thing has moved pretty fast. I'm focusing on managing the house; I will clean the toilets if I have to. We're trying to make history here.
In addition to helping with the house, I'm participating in NewMe myself. My startup is called Vouch, and with it you can tweet recommendations of a person in your network. It lets others know this person is professional, a great public speaker, an expert in technology -- you name it.
My startup, BeCouply, helps couples have epic social lives. I realized there wasn't a lot out there for couples who don't want to fall into the trap of dinner and a movie every Friday night.
I got the idea when I met Becky Cruze, my girlfriend and co-founder. I really wanted to impress her by building something we could use, and the more we talked to other couples the more we realized it could be a real business.
BeCouply helps couples discover new date spots and ideas, capture special moments and then connect with their couple friends. Our goal is to have every couple using BeCouply to advance their relationship -- both at home on the computer and mobile on the go.
Becky and I are fortunate in that BeCouply is all about having a fun, loving relationship. Ironically enough, before this Becky was working at a law firm that did a lot of divorce cases!
After graduating from high school, I was living a seriously bum life. I was sitting around doing nothing on the couch, playing the video games I'd loved for years. Eventually I knew I had to change something, and I had an itch to start creating.
I started contributing a lot of content on forums for a certain video game website, and my commentary attracted so much attention that I brought the site a lot of extra traffic. I figured, if this is going so well, then I might as well do it myself. So I started The Koalition, a gaming site aimed at urban youth. It was a new approach, and it really took off.
I started working with some other startups, which was great, but I still wanted to do stuff with video games. I thought, why not an app? That's how Playd was born.
Playd is like Foursquare for gamers: You can "check in" when you're playing a game on a console or your phone, and rate how much you like it. You can also discuss and share with your friends. We're launching a beta test in August. It hasn't been easy, but I am so excited.