Sramana: After listening to your story, it really seems like the software model is the best option for scaling the business and that there is a lot of opportunity there.
Rod Brown: There is plenty of opportunity in the US as well as opportunities abroad. We are looking at an opportunity in South Africa that could double the size of our company almost overnight if we can pull it off. We really just have to execute because we know what we are doing on the software side of the business. It is a matter of re-dedication.
Sramana: I saw on your website that you are a group of black entrepreneurs and have won several awards as black entrepreneurs. There is definitely a lot of talk out there that black entrepreneurs face bias against them. Is that something that you have encountered?
Rod Brown: If there has been any, we have not experienced it. We are problem solvers. At the end of the day, if we can solve someone’s problems, then they are not going to care what color we are.
Sramana: That is my perspective as well. I think if you are doing the right thing and building a business that solves real problems, then there is not going to be a lot of demographic bias.
Rod Brown: I will say there is limited access to business building resources for African Americans. If you look at my company, we have put together a management company of friends and they look like us. If I were talking to someone else and they wanted to start an incubator, then I would expect that they would start that incubator with people who look like them. That is what non-minorities tend to do. I don’t have access to some of the things that they have access to simply because I am not running in their circles and I am not one of them. If I want to change that, then I need to become one of them. Nobody is going to talk about you, if you are not a part of their circles. I can solve that by getting in their circles.
Sramana: So you are saying it is important to build a network outside of your demographic group?
Rod Brown: Absolutely. If you hang out with a bunch of people who look like you, then you can compete with those people but they cannot complete you. I need people who can complete us. We are actually working right now to expand our network and break into new circles.
We are also working to break into areas known for tech. I am here in Palo Alto and I will be making some connections in this area. I am going to start doing some networking on the West Coast. We have to stay outside of our comfort zone.
Sramana: It is very important to stay outside of your comfort zone. You are not going to grow inside of your comfort zone.
Rod Brown: That is a dangerous place to be. That is where you go to stagnate.
Sramana: Thank you for sharing your story. Best of luck as you continue scaling your company, I look forward to following your success.