A highly accomplished New Media expert, founder of Black Web Media and the NewMEAccelerator, Angela Benton is also a dear friend of Clutch. Her groundbreaking work in the fields of Technology and New Media is unparalleled – and nothing short of inspirational. Angela’s latest enterprise, the NewMeAccelerator, has landed her on the national stage as part of CNN’s 4th installment of Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley. The documentary chronicles Angela and seven other African American tech entrepreneurs as they work to make their start up dreams a reality in a sector where Black folks are sorely under-represented.
As a matter of fact, the essence of Angela’s work revolves around the inclusion of African Americans into the ever-expanding, but no less marginalizing, fields of Tech & New Media. Responding to the absence of online resources targeted towards Blacks in the tech world, Angela founded BlackWeb 2.0 in 2007. Now published by Black Web Media, it aims to be the “catalyst for innovation and inclusive ideas on the web for African-Americans.” She’s also the Founder and Chair of the New Media Entrepreneurship Conference, which strives to counteract racial disparity of the current Internet economy.
Angela continues to cultivate the space where tech matters & issues of diversity intersect, and has been recognized for these pioneering efforts. She’s the youngest Hall of Fame inductee at Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, and one of Ebony Magazine’s Power 150, representing 1 of 3 African-Americans in the technology industry alongside David Drummond of Google. Angela is also a Woman of Power honoree by the National Urban League and one of Fast Company Magazine’s Most Influential Women in Technology for 2010. Silicon Valley Trailblazer is the latest title we’ll take the liberty of inserting into her growing list of accomplishments.
‘The Valley’ is home to the world’s most lucrative, cutting edge tech companies such as Facebook, Skype and Apple and while this new frontier has welcomed many ambitious techies, very few are of African American or Latino decent. Enter, the NewMEAccelerator. Created by Ms. Benton and fellow tech aficionado Wayne Sutton, the accelerator was developed to assist entrepreneurs from these marginalized groups in launching their own start-up company in this, exclusive, fertile technological region. The first of our 5 questions begins with Angela’s own start-up venture: An app designed to elevate ones social life by providing personalized recommendations based on the individual’s location, preferences, and past experiences, called Cued.
CLUTCH: The concept for Cued is pretty dope. What inspired you to develop the app?
Angela: The inspiration really came from my LOVE of working on products and something key that I noticed spending so much time on the Internet. There was no way to bring all the little things that I liked online into my real life. Our interests in what we like online in reality are very disconnected from our actions and what we actually do in real life.
C: In your words, “some days [were] better balanced than others,” when it came down to managing your own start-up while running the accelerator. Describe some of the challenges and milestones of your Silicon Valley experience.
A: A HUGE milestone was definitely Demo Day and being able to see the growth in the Founders as entrepreneurs as well as in their products. There were a lot of little challenges but the good far outweighed them.
C: Name a few things you least expected to learn while immersed in the NewMe Accelerator.
A: I did not expect to begin to learn to code in Python. While I haven’t keep at it, it was certainly NOT on my radar, lol. With all that was going on in life and with the Accelerator I learned a lot about myself and limits, boundaries, and honestly what my tolerance level for certain things are. It sounds basic but if you are in situations where a lot of what you do is out of necessity once you get in a new situation where you don’t have to “do what you have to do” you learn a lot about saying “No” and are more cognizant to what you will or won’t allow.