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2015 In Review: Hundreds of Entrepreneurs, A New Tech Conference, Diversity Progress, Awards & Good People

startup 2016

The first Monday of 2016 is almost over. As I think about 2015, many would say it was a great year for me personally and professionally. Personally I would say yes, I’m healthy, Melinda and I are happy, my family is well back in NC and my son will be five years old this year. Professionally I would say last year was a building and growth year. At BUILDUP we achieved one of our main goals that we set out to accomplish when we first started in 2014 and held our first fellows program with 6 startups. BUILDUP also held two fireside chats, hosted a month long entrepreneurship workshop series and a Shark Tank casting call. Over all in 2015 BUILDUP reached hundreds of underrepresented entrepreneurs.


Throughout 2015, I continued to mentor startups, speak at conferences, judge hackathons .etc as I’ve done since 2008.  I also  created a mentorship community for Black Men In Tech, where we host AMAs and share resources not only in tech but life.  Mentoring consisted of sessions three times with startups at Galvanize and during SXSW with . I accepted four new advisory roles in 2015 with Astia,, Qeyno Labs and Galvanize where I advise Galvanize on diversity & inclusion strategies. I can cross be invited to the White House off my bucket list too as I was invited to attend the first ever White House Demo day.


With Melinda and her team at Change Catalyst, she and I held the inaugural Tech Inclusion Conference that reached over 1000 attendees, was trending worldwide on Twitter with 137 speakers and had 27 career fair employers. The Tech Inclusion Conference was a full year  in planning and sweat equity but it was worth it.  We learned so much planning the conference but most importantly is the impact we made in the tech world and people’s lives. Melinda and I will be announcing new Tech Inclusion programming and partners soon.

As an entrepreneur at heart I couldn’t let the year go by without building and launching a project.  During Memorial weekend I built what many said was a “controversial” startup called “Anonymously Ask A Black Person“. The platform was a weekend hack and learning project for me. It worked well and received tons of press. As Anonymously Ask A Black Person was meant to be a side project for me and not a startup I sold the platform.

Closing out the year, Melinda and I went on a much needed vacation to Paris and then we traveled to Jamaica for Global Entrepreneurship Week for the US Embassy where we lead round table sessions on their growing ecosystems and talked with entrepreneurs. Then we spoke at the H3 Conference and took another short break before Holiday session kicked in.

As a whole, 2015 was also a year that the diversity and tech conversation finally became more mainstream. I wouldn’t say it has jumped the shark just yet and we’re just starting to make impact but need keep pushing to show success in all categories of diversity and tech for it to be more inclusive. Either way from lawsuits to conferences, #hashtags, Twitter rants, Medium post and people having “foot in the mouth” moments there were tons of articles about diversity in tech and I wrote a mid year report card for USA Today “Is tech industry making progress on diversity?

I also received a couple of recognition / awards in 2015 from the Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce and a nominated from the community for 40 Under 40: Tech Diversity.

2015 diversity awards
Two awards in 2015 “Next Generation of Excellence, Achievement Award” via The Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce and 40 Under 40: Tech Diversity – Silicon Valley

Next Generation of Excellence, Achievement Award” via The Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce
70 Bay Area’s top digital leaders to participate in the 70th Anniversary of the Signing of the UN Charter San Francisco
40 Under 40: Tech Diversity – Silicon Valley Event, San Francisco, CA
40 Diverse People In Tech Who Made Big Moves In 2015 – TechCrunch

Throughout the year it was great to get to know some truly amazing people in tech such as Isis Anchalee , Leslie Miley and Heath Black.

Melinda & I catching up with Isis after her keynote at Grace Hopper Conference
Melinda & I catching up with Isis after her keynote at Grace Hopper Conference
Hanging out with Leslie Miley and meeting Deray at the Battery
Hanging out with Leslie Miley and meeting Deray at the Battery


2015 wasn’t all great, as my word and theme for the year was “Be Consistent” and that included writing and a podcast I started at the beginning of 2015. Both didn’t succeed. I also had gain some weight that I worked hard to lose in 2014 back… needless to say I’m back working out.

Over the weekend as I worked on my mentor report I curated my list of press articles where I’m featured in or mentored or contributed to and a list of  speaking events where I was a keynote speaker, panelist or a pitch judge. Below are the numbers:

51 Press Articles

26 Speaking opportunities as a keynote, panelist, or judge

Yes, 2015 was  good year and I’m grateful for all of the partners, friends, sponsors, mentors and advisors who continue to support me and the work my team and I are doing.

Goals for 2016 is not more of the same but keep learning,  think bigger and be great.

2015 Photos

2015 Press Articles

LA Times – Win or lose, discrimination suit is having an effect on Silicon Valley
of10Podcast – Episode: Wayne Sutton
Smashd – Entrepreneur Wayne Sutton is schooling the Valley on how to get more diverse
Exitevent – Increasing Diversity Requires Doing
Diverse Education – Meeting Google’s Diversity Challenge
Oakland Local – 24 Blacks In Tech You Need To Know
International Business Times – SXSW: Tech Needs More Than Talk To Fix Dismal Diversity Record
International Business Times – As Tech Giants Push For Diversity, Blacks And Latinos Are Fleeing Once-Diverse San Francisco
innov8social – [PODCAST] Interview with Wayne Sutton, General Partner and Co-Founder of
Black Enterprise – The State of Diversity in Silicon Valley
Atlanta Black Star – 8 Black Techies Every Blerd Should Follow on Twitter
NextShark – New Controversial Startup Service Lets You Ask a Black Person Anything – Here’s what happens when you text a startup called ‘Anonymously Ask A Black Person Anything’
Berkeley Technology Review – Debugging Diversity In Silicon Valley
Mother Jones – You Won’t Find Many White Dudes at This Tech Startup Competition
LA Times – Why are women leaving the tech industry in droves? – [VIDEO] How do you Get More Minorities Involved in Tech? – One-on-One with Top Mentors at SXSW: Mobile, Design, Growth – The winners and losers of Washington’s vote on net neutrality
KQED – Got a Question About Race You’re Too Nervous to Ask? There’s an App for That – Ask a Black Person Anything, Anonymously
the Frisky – Anonymously Ask A Black Person” Is An App That Purports To Break Down Barriers When It Comes To Race
Madame Noire – New App Allows Users To (anonymously) Ask A Black Person Their Burning Questions
BE Monder Man – Wayne Sutton – Ask a Black Person’ Site Returns
Blavity – Ever Wanted To Ask A Black Person Something? There’s An App For That
3BC – [PODCAST] 3BC discusses the new service, “Ask A Black Person” and if they think this is a viable business.
JustKiddingNews – [VIDEO] New Controversial Service Will Let You Ask A Black Person Anything ft. David So
TechCrunch – The #ILookLikeAnEngineer Community Hosted One Of The Most Powerful, Inspiring Tech Events I’ve Ever Attended
Michelle Glauser – The Stories of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer Community Gathering
Jamaica Observer – Silicon Valley experts explore Jamaica’s tech entrepreneurial ecosystem
LOOP Jamaica – US Embassy celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week
US Embassy Jamaica – U.S. Embassy Kingston Celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week
USA Today – [PODCAST] – Uber’s suit, women risk takers, tech & concussions: podcast
TechCrunch – BuildUp Fellows Program Aims To Nurture Underrepresented Founders In Tech
WOC in Tech – “We can’t find any women of color in tech!” A guide to this weekend’s Tech Inclusion Conference
International Business Times – Why Silicon Valley Is Failing Miserably At Diversity, And What Should Be Done About It
TechCrunch – Dear Investors, Fund More Underrepresented Founders In Tech
International Business Times – Tech Diversity Gets Another Conference: Tech Inclusion 2015 Brings Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest
EBONY – 6 Companies Tackle Tech Diversity
African-American Cyber Report – Anonymously Ask A Black Person
TechCrunch – Pinterest Is Working With A Startup Called Paradigm To Foster Diversity
SFGATE – Twitter becomes second tech company to publicize diversity goals
TechCrunch – Developing Targeted Initiatives For Women Of Color In Tech
International Business Times – Tech Diversity: Accelerators Go After Women, Underrepresented Minorities For New Startup Ideas
Wall Street Journal Digital – #iLookLikeAnEngineer Wants to Move From Tweets to Billboards
San Jose Mercury News – Quinn: Ellen Pao, moving on, but not going away – My Date With Diversity at the Tech Inclusion Conference
Recode – #ILookLikeAnEngineer: What Happens After the Party?
The Daily Dot – #ILookLikeAnEngineer is not about looking—it’s about listening
Abernathy – Abernathy Man: Wayne Sutton


2015 Speaking Opportunities


#keepmovingfoward and Thank you!


Startup 2016… let’s go!