Scary things Black tech entrepreneurs overcome

13 Black Tech Entrepreneurs Who Chose To Not Let Their Ideas Lie Dormant And Haunt Them

Forget focusing on killer zombies and jack-o’-lanterns this Halloween. Let’s focus on the scary things Black tech entrepreneurs must overcome to build and operate killer companies.

We spoke with 13 Black tech entrepreneurs who decided to not let their ideas lie dormant and haunt them. These 13 founders chose to persevere through the fears to disrupt their industries.  

The statistics and information we highlight here provide some support for the things these Black tech entrepreneurs listed as the scary parts of launching and running a startup as well as a few calming numbers.

Sure, there is the thrilling part of building something with your own hands and seeing the market take to it, but there are times when an entrepreneur has to address mental and physical hindrances to keep their dreams alive.

We thank these founders for being transparent. Their shared confessions are a testament to their ability to overcome their fears. They are all leaders, innovators, and champions in their respective fields.

“Other people’s doubts are scary. As we watch the debacle of for-profit companies not making a profit (WeWork, Uber, Lyft, and etc.), we (minority and women tech founders) are being penalized and left to starve because investors don’t want to invest in an unprofitable tech company. Minority women founders are stereotypically given fewer opportunities for success, less money, but are treated as we though we caused the problem.” – Brooke Sinclair, Velour Imports.

There is a graveyard of “unicorns” and the products they created — 56 percent of unicorns are overvalued. It’s too early to know the consequences of WeWork and others failing. 

However, the lack of support for minority women is frightening. Minority founders are still suffering. Crunchbase reported earlier this year that 1 percent of 10,000 venture-backed founders polled were Black. Brooke’s doubts about investors funding without bias are well founded.

“The thing about innovative startups is that many don’t have a business model or a set of activities proven to make money. There is always a little bit of doubt as to whether I’m going to go ‘boom’ or go bust.”  – Sonja Ebron, Courtroom5.

Forbes recently shared that 42 percent of innovations fail due to long development time. Founders need two-to-three times longer than they expect to validate a business model. A Harvard Business Review study says that when entrepreneurs are in their early stages, “they may improvise or experiment to bring this vision into better focus.” It takes time to get past the initial stages and even come to the realization of a startup’s success or failure. That time along the way can be scary.

“I’m outside of my comfort zone. I don’t want to make a mistake. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful and a top contender in the industry.” – Mark Savage, Premier Crypto Digital Collectibles.

The numbers can be terrifying.

There are more than 582 million people around the world in the process of starting or running their own business, The Hill reported in 2017. In the U.S. alone, there are 30.2 million small businesses with more than 8 million categorized as minority-owned, the Small Business Administration says. Getting lost in the sea of entrepreneurs is not difficult — 42 percent of polled startups analyzed in a CB Insights report failed because of the lack of a market need for their product. Knowing these numbers and focusing on being on top amounts to a lot of pressure to succeed.

“As a solo founder, the scariest part for me is worrying if I’m doing things correctly. Somehow my confidence vanished. But I’m finding it again.” – Arabia Umrani, Unwind.

Going it alone can feel scary in the beginning and it could take longer to find the right direction, but there is hope.

Solo founders take 3.6 times longer to reach scale stage compared to a founding team of two and they are 2.3 times less likely to pivot, according to the 2011 Startup Genome Report. Here’s the hope: Data analyzed by TechCrunch in 2016 showed that 45.9 percent of companies raising $10 million-plus did so with solo founders. More than 52 percent of the same startups had a successful exit.

“I am currently balancing a full-time job, family responsibilities, what’s left of a social life, and community commitments while launching my startup as a bootstrapped solo founder. My fear is falling off the tightrope I’m walking and burning out before the startup takes off.” — Adrian Claudius-Cole, Gritly Co.

Jeff Bezos and other billionaire CEOs say there is no such thing as a work-life balance. Work-life is more of a circle than a balance and if you’re happy at home, you’ll be happy at work and vice versa, Bezos says. The 2015 Hiscox DNA of an Entrepreneur Report shows one in five U.S business owners take no holiday at all while others barely take half their holiday time — a recipe for burnout. Additional startup statistics from 2019 show that 89 percent of U.S. business owners regularly work weekends and 20 percent claim to work 50-to-59 hours.

 

 

Written by Ebony Grimsley-Vaz, Oct 31, 2019