We constantly hear from pundits that specific demographic groups face bias in the industry. Rod Brown works with a team of black entrepreneurs in North Carolina, and has a refreshingly positive attitude with which they’re building OnceLogix. His simple message: ‘Solve problems.’
Sramana: Rob, tell us where you are from and what your background is. What is the backstory to your entrepreneurial journey?
Rod Brown: I am from a small town in North Carolina. I went to school at Winston-Salem State University. My background is in financial services. I was in banking for many years before I became an entrepreneur. I worked for a Fortune 500 bank and did Banking Operations for 10 years before I jumped the fence and started doing financial management. I became a licensed financial advisor for sales, stocks, and bonds. I was basically a money manager.
Sramana: How did OnceLogix come to be?
Rod Brown: I met my business partners at a local church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina as well. One of my business partners was developing a website for a lady who owned a group home for at-risk youth. As he was building her website, she was complaining about paperwork and documentation. It was a challenge to keep track of various stats and requirements and there was also the overhead of managing her billable work.
As a result of her complaining, he put together a makeshift program. From that point on, in 2005, they went through a cycle of prototyping, engineering, prototyping, and engineering. She would show it to her friends and they ultimately arrived at a place where there was a product ready to go to market.
Once they arrived at that point, he contacted me because he was the guy who could fry the chicken, and I was the one who could run the restaurant. He brought in another one of our friends who had a business mind. We put our heads together and we created a company.
Sramana: What did you plan to do with the software?
Rod Brown: Initially, it was just a project to help one customer. After several people liked it and started using it, he realized that he had a small group of beta users. One of the people using it told one of his friends about it. We then got a call from someone asking if he could buy the software from Trinity.
When this happened, Trinity sought advice from his father because he did not know what to do. He also sought advice from our pastor. The pastor gathered a group of 12 individuals who were business leaders into a room and we had a meeting. We sat around a table after Trinity told his story and we all had a chance to tell Trinity what we would do if we were in his shoes. Every other person in that room advised Trinity to sell the software. When it came around to me, I told him that if I were in his shoes, I would try to turn it into a product that could be marketed.