Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015 is November 16th – 22nd and I’m excited to share that Melinda Epler and I will be sharing our entrepreneurship lesson learned, successes, failures and our passion for inclusion in all areas of tech entrepreneurship in Kingston Jamaica for the U.S. Embassy and in Puerto Rico for the H3 Tech Conference.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. During one week each November, GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators.

While in Jamaica, we’ll be working with the U.S. Embassy in Kingston visiting incubators/accelerators, universities and talking with numerous entrepreneurs and business leaders. Additionally I’ll be delivering the keynote talk during the Youth Business Awards Dinner.

After we leave Jamaica, we’ll fly to Puerto Rico for the H3 Conference. The H3 Conference is Latin America’s premier innovation conference where tech-hackers, the startup scene and the creative economy meet. H3 Tech Conference’s main objective is to develop an innovation-based entrepreneurial mindset by providing the tools, the knowledge and the space to exchange ideas to build a strong ecosystem. On Friday I’ll be speaking on how to turn “Your Idea to MVP: Toolbox for Early Growth”

For the next 12 days it’s wheels up and I’m excited and humbled to have the opportunity to share my lessons learned with fellow entrepreneurs in Jamaica and Puerto Rico.


At BUILDUP our mission is to mentor, educate and connect underrepresented entrepreneurs in technology. To achieve our goal BUILDUP provides the following opportunities to underrepresented technology entrepreneurs:

A two week fellows program
Educational fireside chats with investors/founders
Entrepreneurship workshops

This year we’ve held two pilot programs to prove our hypothesis and show the need for such resources for underrepresented technology entrepreneurs . The first was a month long workshop and the second was the Fellows Program.

The BUILDUP Fellows Program is an intensive two week program designed to prepare founders for their entrepreneurship journey. Throughout the fellows program teams will experience workshops lead by industry experts, connect with successful mentors and work on key areas of their business such as achieving product market fit and pitching.

The Fellows program took place from September 28th to October 9th in San Francisco at Galvanize HQ. We received over 80 applications from startups across the globe and selected six great startups for the inaugural class.

During the Fellows Program the startups worked out of Galvanize, participated in one-on-one office hours, pitch practice, workshops on finance, leadership, and product market fit. The Fellows Program also featured talks from investors and successful founders such John Maeda of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, Heather Hiles, founder and CEO of Pathbrite, Sean Percival, partner at 500 Startups and Ken Norton of Google Ventures.

All together the fellows program featured 18 mentors and speakers during the two weeks. Also during the two weeks the fellows visited and learned more about bay area startups such as Yelp, Twilio, Pivotal Labs, Airbnb and Twilo. The fellows also learned about various startup resources from Pivotal Labs and Facebook via the FBstart program.

Meet the first Batch of Startups in BUILDUP Fellows Program below.
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The fellows program concluded with demo day at Twitter HQ where each founder pitched for five minutes to a room full of angel investors, accelerators, and venture capitalist that included investors from SV Angel, Kapor Capital, Google Ventures, 500 Startups and more.

As for what’s next with the first batch of BUILDUP Fellows; the six startups are just getting started on their journey and our goal is to assist each one in getting accepted in incubators accelerators such as 500 Startups, TechStars, Y Combinator, Launch Accelerator or continue to raise angel capital.


Below are some testimonials from the fellows after participating in the fellows program.

BUILDUP may be the most important thing we’ve been a part of since we started MobilePhire. I am consistently blown away by the caliber of mentors and speakers we have the privilege of meeting with. It’s amazing that we’re able to connect with them in such meaningful ways, as opposed to just listening to speakers.

– MobilePhire

Due to the mentorship we received from BuildUP, we received more investment interest and aligned our focus to a better defined growth strategy. The other startup founders were also amazing! Together, we built a strong founder family and community of support. I would recommend BuildUP to all early stage startups that are looking to better understand and improve their fundraising efforts, strengthen their network, and fine tune their business strategy.

– Cocoon Cam

You can learn more about the BUILDUP Fellows program and via our page on AngelList

A big thank you to all of the BUILDUP partners, sponsors, mentors and supporters.


Sometimes side projects are meant to be side projects and sometimes they are meant to be more. For Anonymously Ask A Black Person (AABP) it’s meant to be more. Then comes the question am I the person to lead Anonymously Ask A Black Person to be more. I’ve been asking myself that over the past two months as I’ve been working on the BUILDUP Fellows program and Tech Inclusion Conference.

From the beginning AABP was suppose to be a weekend hack/side project built out of frustration of lack of positive tech coverage in diversity in tech, built because I had an idea, built because I’ve been planning tech events and wanted to continue to sharpen my developer/hack skills, and built because I wanted to created a way to bridge the race relations gap among African-Americans and every other ethnic group in the world.

After launching Anonymously Ask A Black Person (AABP) I was surprised by the reaction from various ethnic groups especially from African-Americans. I’ve written about the journey of building, launching and relaunching AABP in the post below.

How and Why I built “Anonymously Ask A Black Person” SMS platform that reached almost 10,000 page views & removed from Product Hunt in 48 hours with Twilio

Anonymously Ask A Black Person via SMS (ABP) is Back Online – Team, Goals, Features and Task List

Anonymously Ask A Black Person First 3 Day Numbers; 4900 Page Views, Top 5 Show Hacker News & Tons of Penis Questions

Measuring Anonymously Ask A Black Person First 10 Days; 1,050 SMS Messages with Twilio & 16,497 Pageviews

Anonymously Ask A Black Person Passes 3K SMS & Featured In Just Kidding Films Generated 5k Pageviews in 48 hours

Over the course of the short life of Anonymously Ask A Black Person (AABP) from May 2014 to today, November 12 below are some key stats:

Team Members – 15
Press Article – 11
Page Views – 32,896
Unique Visits – 27,856
Total Messages Sent and Received – 8094

ask a black person press

As for Anonymously Ask A Black Person (AABP) to become more than a side project I realized that I’m not the best person to continue to be involved or lead the team. Today I’m pleased to share that I’ve sold Anonymously Ask A Black Person (AABP) to Robert Murray. Robert Murray is a full stack developer and Senior iOS Engineer. Robert has been a team member and supporter of AABP since day one. You can learn more about Robert Murray via his Twitter @robertmurray and LinkedIn profile


I’m looking forward to see where Robert takes Ask A Black Person (AABP) and I’m grateful for his friendship, support and vision believe in my side project.

steve blank
Steve Blank is a legend in the startup world. Steve is the creator of the Lean Startup movement, author of Startup Owners Manual and Four Steps To The Epiphany. I first met Steve in 2012 as he advised the very first pilot of the Startup Weekend NEXT program. Then we participated on a panel together at Stanford in the same year. Our friendship began after that. In 2014 I asked Steve to be an advisor to BUILDUP. BUILDUP is a U.S. based 501(c)(3) non-profit designed to support an inclusive ecosystem of entrepreneurs focused on building new technologies to solve the world’s most critical challenges.

Earlier this year Steve launched the “Entrepreneurs are Everywhere” weekly radio show broadcasting Thursdays, 4 – 5 PM Eastern on SiriusXM’s Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School (channel 111).

The show features founders of companies from across the United States sharing their experience of what it takes to build a startup – from restaurants, to rocket scientists, to on-line groceries, to on-line gifts and more. The show examines the DNA of entrepreneurs – what makes them tick, how they came up with their ideas – and, explore the habits that make them successful, and the highs, lows and pivots that pushed them forward.

Today I was a guest on the Entrepreneurs are Everywhere show recorded at Stanford’s video office. During the episode we talked about my entrepreneurship journey from Teachey, NC to Silicon Valley, lessons learned from my previous startups and diversity in tech.
wayne sutton with steve blank

I’ll keep you posted on the show air date and time but for now listen to previous episodes on SiriusXM Channel 111 or on Steve’s Soundcloud channel.

Since relaunching Anonymously Ask A Black Person the traffic and SMS we receive come and go. Somes days we get one or two and others we can get up to 10 to 20 sms messages. Late Thursday night, my phone started to receive tons of notifications of inbound SMS and and Slack notifications as I had build a way for users to Anonymously SLACK A Black Person too.

The traffic came from the team over at Just Kidding Films who created a real and funny video about the service. Just Kidding Films youtube channel has 1,218,438 subscribers with 473,503,697 views. After I realised the video was the reason for all the traffic I had to disable the Anonymous Slack feature. You can watch the video below. It’s interesting they call the service “Controversial”. I guess when we’re having a conversation about race or to a black person it could be controversial? Anyway… the video generated 4,960 pageviews with 3,423 unique visits since late Thursday night. By tonight we’ll hit 5k pageviews.

I will say they are incorrect about a couple of items about the service. It’s not one person, we’re a team of 10 and growing to 13 next week and no I didn’t create this to be the voice of all black people. It’s not all guys either. There are three women on the team.

New Controversial Service Will Let You Ask A Black Person Anything ft. David So

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 4.13.37 PM

To date we have received 1576 inbound text messages and have sent 1474 messages.
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Be sure to watch the video. It’s funny, real and clearly identifies the need for the service. If you have any questions, you can Anonymously Ask A Black Person.


To say it’s been an interesting and emotional ten days is an understatement since I built Anonymously Ask A Black Person (#AABP). Today makes an official ten days the platform has been actually live. Time will tell the overall impact and value, one thing we do know Anonymously Ask A Black Person is sure starting a lot of conversations around why or why not it should exist or is this good or bad for the world.

Regardless, let’s look at some numbers of the first 10 days using Microsoft Power BI, Twilio and Google Google Analytics. Twilio recently announced “Twilio Monitoring Within Microsoft Power BI during their Single’s conference late May and since all messages are sent through Twilio let’s start there.

Total SMS Sent and Received: 1,050 in 10 active days

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 7.22.50 AM

For page views and age and gender demographics, let’s take a look at Google Analytics. The highest age is 25-34 with 82% being male and 17.4% being female.

Age and Gender

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Total pageviews 16,497

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 7.30.01 AM

While the pageviews are ok for a 10 days weekend hack, there’s only a 9.7% return rate, which make sense with the current setup as the platform goal is to start answering questions via SMS. But we do need to address a way to bring people back to the site to participate in the dialogue.

People have been tweeting and want to see some of the responses and we’re going to work on building a system that can show both the outgoing answers along with the incoming questions.

Team Size Answering Questions: 10

I can’t say enough about the team answering questions. They’re funny, smart and dedicated. I’m learning a lot from them and we’re excited to see where Anonymously Ask A Black Person can go.

As for what’s next,we’re going to setup an offical Anonymously Ask A Black Person (#AABP) blog and create a public features voting trello board.

ask a black person

“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
– Morpheus


Friday May, 29th 5pm – June 1, 11:59pm Stats
SMS Questions Received: 230
SMS Questions Sent: 262
Page Views: 4970


The quote from Morpheus above is what I posted in the slack group to the team answering question on Anonymously Ask A Black Person. We’re up to 10 Brilliant Black People from across the country. The team is 7 guys, and 3 women. We have developers/engineers, sales guy and a couple of growth hackers. Everyone does not live in the Bay or Silicon Valley either. The team is from Austin, Cleveland, and the Bay area.

Last Friday, I wrote the blog post “Anonymously Ask A Black Person via SMS (ABP) is Back Online” in which I listed our core values, features list and goals. I was at Google I/O and wasn’t expecting a big flood of text messages to come in. I pinged the team in slack and said we’re live!

After a few tweets, and a Facebook post the messages started to come in on late Friday such as:

“What’s the best Kool Aid flavor”

“Is Nikki Minaj’s butt real?”

“Do you like chicken and waffles”

Come, Saturday afternoon more text were coming and the team and I started talking about ways to improve tracking who replies back to what messages. We also started thinking about growth. Since I haven’t sent the site to hacker news, I thought why not. So I posted “Anonymously Ask A Black Person” to the Show Hacker News section and waited. I didn’t have to wait long as I immediately saw traffic increase and more traffic means more SMS. We started getting questions like

“I’m on a date with a black girl right now. What should we do?”

“Do you all really have bigger dicks than white people?”

“How do you feel about non-black people singing the n-word at concerts when its part of the song?”

“What’s the best thing to say to someone when they make a racist joke to show you’re not cool with it?”

Not making the same mistake I did with Product Hunt, I decided to answer some of the comments on the Hacker News thread. Some were curious to why I built it and others had real suggestions on how to make it better. Be sure to check out the thread.

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 3.25.44 PM

Saturday’s Page views where 1,389 with 1,237 uniques. Not bad.

Sunday, I again woke up to an unusual high number of page views. It turns out someone had submitted the site to Reddit’s CoonTown. I have never been to that section on Reddit… you are warned it’s real over there.

Either way, more Hacker News comments and traffic from Reddit started to increase the number of SMS questions coming in and the team was ready. We stared receiving some real tough questions like;

“hey. 1. are you really black or this is some social justice movement/horrible prank 2. you ever think social issues (of race,gender,orientation) are just handled horribly in the US? like it has to become a big movement in the newspapers and tv with people debating and moralizing about shit, so that bigots can have something to talk about. its like blindingly fucking simple isn’t it? all people are the same. do you feel that way?

Hi, I’m a white woman and often the target of sexism in my career. If I bring this up, men shut me down and laugh it off, “that’s not sexist”. It’s very frustrating. I feel like if it was a racial issue and I accused someone of being racist, they would quickly back down, if only just for appearances. Do you think that’s the case?

How do you feel about non-black people singing the n-word at concerts when its part of the song?

What is the worst and best thing about black church?

Are black people racist towards white people?

How would you fix the problem of diversity in tech specifically black people?

What’s the best way that I, as a white person, can help people of color?

Then more of the not so serious question started to come in such as:

Curry or LeBron?

What was Jay-Z’s first album?

do black people really have the biggest weenies?

Is it just met but there’s seems to be a real interest in blacks having a bigger penis parts than whites.. I’m going to leave it right there… #thatisall

At the end of the day on Sunday, this message warmed my soul.

“I want to apologize on behalf of humanity if people have texted anything terrible. Happy Sunday!”

Sunday’s numbers were: 2,570 page views and 2,294 unique visits.

Yesterday I was heads down on few projects buta reporter reached out to us for a story on Anonymously Ask A Black Person. I asked the team who wanted to remain anonymous and who wanted to be public. We also talked about growth, features and getting more returning users. I just checked some of the questions from yesterday and most were serious. The stats from yesterday are 1001 page views and 858 unique visits.

We’re going to really think about new features, partnerships and growth over the next week and see how we’re doing on numbers to reach our 90 day goal of 10k messages sent and received.

As of today we’re really 3 days old with almost 5k page views and have replied over 250 SMS questions. We’re getting ready for press and growth plans and to some up one of the reasons why we’re doing this. I believe this Q&A below that happen via Anonymously Ask A Black Person sums it up!

Question: Why do black people on average have such low IQs compared to whites and asians?

Answer: Black people don’t have low IQs. We have the most underrated IQ :-)

-your friendly neighborhood black person #aabp

You can view the first 3 days of questions below!