A Conversation with our CEO: Education, Tech and Diversity

Why is Everyone Talking About Company Culture: Pt. 1 – The Boss
May 19, 2016
Website Post
Data Analytics: Sports, Tech and Race
June 27, 2016
Show all

A Conversation with our CEO: Education, Tech and Diversity

Conversartions  Template (Tech)

A couple of months ago, we had a conversation with one of our co-Founders, who is in a much different place, than our other co-Founder who is known to the team as the “Chief” and the CEO of Alibi X – Ikechi David Nwabuisi. His spirit and passion for Alibi X is felt from miles away, so it was good to sit down with him, and  chat about his recent move to Austin, why he decided to go back to school, and why it’s important for him to push technology in our communities. Silicon Jungle is a part of the Alibi X brand.

Silicon Jungle Editorial Staff (SJ): Why do you think it’s important to push technology among diverse people?

Ikechi: I think that technology provides a disruption that provides opportunity for people who don’t have the same access or chance to compete. Communities of color need to use tools like technology to solve their problems. The global reach technology has helps connect people who look and are dealing with the same issues even though they are halfway across the world. The wealth disparity is so great now, the only thing that has the opportunity to counteract that gap is technology.

SJ: So what is missing? Or rather what is needed?

Ikechi: Diverse people need access to computers and the internet at earlier ages, one at home. And we’re not talking about having a cell phone with data. They need access to real tools at an age as early as possible to invigorate their creativity and curiosity about the world of tech, and to gain more technical skills. Although some kids are naturally interested in technology, when you don’t have access, how do you know that you have an interest or a natural affinity to something?

SJ: What made you think that you could make a difference?

Ikechi: Throughout my life, I was blessed with certain opportunities that have allowed me to get into certain rooms and doors that are not always easy for people of color, so I walk into those rooms by myself, but I’m more focused on those around me and behind me. I don’t necessarily know I’ll make a difference, all I know is that I am going to give it a try , and haven’t really looked back.

SJ: What program are you in at the University of Texas? How diverse is your program?

Ikechi: Masters of Sciences in Technology and Commercialization. Very diverse; 40% of the class is probably classified as diverse, but what I was surprised to see was that half of the students are current or former military service men and women.

SJ: So why did you go back to school? Would you recommend it for other entrepreneurs?

Ikechi: Felt like I had to. I have a goal of assisting people of color, to help get tech companies off the ground, and I need to go the extra mile to get creditability. In order to attract the people to me, I needed to have a piece of paper. It’s a pretty competitive program, it’s considered a top 5 entrepreneur program at one of the top 10 business schools in the country. I feel really blessed to have this opportunity. I mean in the first week, we heard from Bob Metcalfe . I also never had a conversation with a venture capitalist, and within two weeks, I have talked to 5. Access matters.

SJ: Is bringing diversity any different than any other industry?

Ikechi: Yes and no; there are far less barriers to entry in technology, because you can teach yourself a lot if you put in a lot of hard work and dedication, but in order to truly to excel, it’s about who you know and who is willing to take chance on you, and if they don’t look like you and aren’t’ as comfortable with you, then it can be hard as in traditional companies and businesses.

SJ: What is your advice for someone who is interested in starting a start-up or their own business?

Ikechi: Oh, there is a lot, but I will try to narrow it down to a few tips:

  1. Learn how to operate lean.
  2. Focus your vision
  3. Continually rework your business plan
  4. Be open to talking about your idea with people, and be able to take constructive criticism
  5. Find your best elevator speech
  6. Time is short
  7. Look for resources that can help you without out coming off of equity
  8. Talk to someone else that has done it before

SJ: If you had to ask yourself 5 years ago, would you be here? If not, how has the change of course affected you?

Ikechi: Definitely not. Ha ha. But the change of course hasn’t affected me much, it has affected those around, because I have jumped into a risky world, and my original path was more stable, and they express their concerns. But for me, that’s how it’s always been. When I have jumped into something, I pretty much respond to it the same way, try to lock into my goals and achieve. It was easy to immerse myself into this, because I felt that I’ve been called to do it. But you have to be patient with these kind of things. However long you think something is going to take, it’s going to take longer. If you keep chopping at the wood, the tree is going to fall down. I believe in our team and our goals, I hope that we become one of the leaders in pushing diversity in tech, and we are going to make a good impact, and we’re at the right place at the right time.

Also published on Medium.