When entrepreneur Wayne Sutton left North Carolina in 2011, he had a mission: to change the racial, gender and cultural makeup of Silicon Valley.
He also hoped to find success in business, to create jobs and a product that people wanted and used. But he recognized that would only come with the relationships built accomplishing task number one.
Sutton’s mission proved challenging in 2011. As he worked to gain traction for his now defunct startup TriOut, he also co-founded an accelerator called NewME, the first focused on minority entrepreneurs, and filmed a documentary on the topic in Mountain View. The Valley wasn’t ready to embrace diversity then. Tech giants weren’t under pressure to report the percentages of women in their workforce. There weren’t high-profile gender discrimination cases going on. And there certainly wasn’t a dedication to including underrepresented populations, like African Americans, in workf orces.
Much has changed since that time, and the small town guy from North Carolina has propelled himself into the national spotlight as a conversation starter and promoter for the inclusion of minority groups and women in the homogenous tech world.
Through two years of relationship-building, Sutton’s got famous professor, author and entrepreneur Steve Blank on the board of his new startup, a part-accelerator, connector and eventual venture capital fund called BUILDUP.vc launching this year. He’s spoken at Stanford University, South by Southwest (multiple years), The Lean Startup Conference and Raleigh’s own Internet Summit. He’s built up nearly 50,000 followers on Twitter and writes columns on diversity in tech for USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.
Though his social media activity isn’t new—he jokes he was the first black man on Twitter back in 2007 when he worked in Raleigh—his relationships in Silicon Valley are. It’s after two years of persistence building them that his hard work is paying off.
For much more, including video, read the full story at ExitEvent: http://exitevent.com/article/wayne-sutton-increasing-diversity-requires-doing-150511
Note:ExitEvent is a news partner of WRAL TechWire.