While Kunbi Tinuoye may be new to the startup world, she has embodied all the traits of an entrepreneur for quite some time (tenacious, risk-taking, and passionate to name a few). After meeting Tinuoye at SwitchPitch in October, and setting up an interview shortly thereafter, it quickly became clear that she would stop at nothing to make her recently launched digital platform, UrbanGeekz.com, a wild success.
Tinuoye has an extensive background in journalism with previous experience working for BBC and published writings for The Daily Mail, London’s Evening Standard, ebony.com, The Voice newspaper, and more. At the end of last year, Tinuoye left her job as a Southeast Correspondent for NBC’s African American news platform, theGrio.com, to pursue UrbanGeekz, which focuses on African American, Latino, and multicultural superstars in technology, science, and business.
UrbanGeekz has grown steadily over the past seven months, with partnerships including the likes of 20th Century Fox and AT&T. Not to mention her recent piece on urban kids who love STEM that went viral. With the year winding down and the one year anniversary of UrbanGeekz coming up, we caught up with Tinuoye to find out her tricks of the trade.
What’s your current role?
I am the Founder and Chief Executive of UrbanGeekz.com, a groundbreaking digital news platform focused on technology, science, and business. The first-of-its-kind online publication is geared towards the African American, Latino, and multicultural market. We also have a strong focus on women innovators. The site offers reviews, interviews, commentary, and original video on startups, commerce, geek gadgets, social media, scientific advancements, and insights into the workings of Silicon Valley and the global technology industry. The website also provides authoritative lifestyle and entertainment coverage. The company is based at Atlanta Tech Village, the largest technology startup incubator in the Southeast.
What startup/tech projects have you worked on?
UrbanGeekz is my first serious introduction to entrepreneurship. I spotted a gap in the market that has not been adequately explored by any other outlets. I felt there wasn’t enough coverage on issues related to tech and business on minority-owned news platforms. Mainstream technology blogs also do not pay enough attention to the growing multicultural market. Headquartered in Georgia, we are well placed to cover Atlanta’s thriving tech ecosystem, with vibrant entrepreneurial activity and innovation coming out of startups and leading research universities such as Georgia Tech. We are also committed to publishing quality national and international content.
What tech/tools are essential to you?
Google Analytics is a must-have tool to analyze website data. It’s such a powerful, user-friendly, ever-evolving platform that tracks our traffic, demographics, and the habits of users who interact with the site. We also use Alexa, Yoast, and SumoMe to track performance and boost engagement. I do own an iPhone, but I’d be lost without my iPad for live tweeting and posting real-time photos when I’m at industry events.
How do you stay informed & on top of emerging trends?
I read leading industry tech blogs such as Wired, TechCrunch, and Mashable. I also read African American and Latino news sites. But at the same time my job is to come up with fresh and original content and tell stories other outlets may overlook. I’m also connected with many of the key industry players personally or through social networking sites.
What are your best technical or creative skills?
Being an entrepreneur is a crash course in multi-skilling. I have the ability to do everything from video graphics, copy editing, photography, editing with Final Cut Pro, and basic front-end web development. Even with a team of talented staff, I’m a firm believer that ‘wearing many hats’ is synonymous with being a small-business owner. Startup CEOs should have a general understanding, even at a basic level, of what’s required to operate their business. This also helps develop an ability to tackle issues from various perspectives.
What’s next on your list to learn?
I’d like to go on a full-immersion coding boot camp to brush up on my web development skills.
Why the interest in startups and the technology field?
It’s extremely liberating to take a ‘back of a napkin’ concept and then work towards turning your idea into a viable business. Launching an innovative startup has also given me the flexibility to set my own agenda and tap into my creativity. I love the energy, intimacy, and collaborative process of working with a small-dedicated team that’s committed to the overall vision of the company.
What really inspired me to create the platform was when the big tech firms started publishing employee demographic data that revealed most had issues hiring and retaining a diverse pool of talent. So for me this is more than a business venture – it’s a labor of love. Our mission is to make technology more accessible, while highlighting STEM fields, business, and entrepreneurship as exciting career paths, especially for women and underserved communities.
But this is not simply a “race” or “gender” issue. America is facing a shortage of workers in STEM fields. Even today some industries struggle with the supply and availability of high-quality workers. If the U.S. is to remain internationally competitive it must produce a skilled workforce with significant abilities in technology. The US needs a technologically savvy workforce for innovation, economic growth, and global competitiveness.