In today’s digital age, entrepreneurs in the technology space are key to creating a future of promise and revolutionizing the everyday lives of consumers. For that very reason, AT&T is celebrating tech-driven innovators and proclaiming them to be the new celebrities of the digital world.
In its latest push to celebrate tech entrepreneurs of color, AT&T pointed a spotlight at three trailblazing tech entrepreneurs—a music lover who has found a distinct connection between hip hop, entrepreneurship and technology; the head of a global IT service company who has yet to graduate high school; and an enchanting poet who used her past experiences with journalism to become a unique talent in the world of social media.
Anthony Frasier (pictured above), a New Jersey native who discovered a natural gift for developing mobile applications and designing web sites, is now the founder of several tech businesses and spends much of his time helping other emerging entrepreneurs make their way into the swiftly growing industry.
“I found myself always getting approached by entrepreneurs from all backgrounds—not just African Americans—and youth who wanted to figure out how they could get into the tech industry,” Frasier told Atlanta Blackstar.
Frasier explained that he already had his own plate full of startups like Playd and was busy developing the now award-winning gaming site TheKoalition.com.
As he continued to grow his own businesses, he still never forgot about the many tech savvy hopefuls who wanted to follow in his footsteps.
In the midst of putting in serious groundwork and increasing networking efforts, he came across James Lopez who would later become the his business partner and co-founder of The Phat Startup, a company dedicated to giving emerging entrepreneurs the resources and insider knowledge they need to take their own startups to the next level with a particular focus on individuals with urban backgrounds who didn’t always feel welcome in the the tech industry.
Phat Startup has already garnered serious attention from media outlets and other successful entrepreneurs in the tech space, but Frasier said it was a especially exciting to have AT&T reach out to him, considering the type of work they were already doing throughout the community.
“AT&T—I’ve always been a great admirer of how much they were doing throughout the community,” Frasier said. “I remember seeing a lot of AT&T hackathons and things like that and it always was interesting to see.”
For Frasier, anything that fostered creativity in the tech space was a cause worth getting behind, especially in an industry that has a habit of being money hungry.
“It’s all about money,” Frasier said as he explained why he thought creativity needed to be pushed to the forefront of conversations in Silicon Valley. “A lot of people aren’t really trying to solve the bigger, big, big problem and that’s what Phat Startup does. We have a big problem we’re trying to solve.”
That problem is how to make entrepreneurship more appealing and “inviting” to people who didn’t feel welcome in the space before by building a bridge between entrepreneurship and hip hop.
“We can learn how to hustle from Jay-Z and there are things you can kind of pull out of an interview with Diddy that’s like, ‘Man, there’s something here,’ ” Frasier explained. “So I eventually saw a way that I can get into entrepreneurship education and teaching people how they could do what I was doing by simply using hip hop culture as a catalyst.”
It’s the type of solution that could foster creativity and spark an interest in technology at a young age and possibly help the country see more young Black tech CEOs like Jaylen Bledsoe (pictured below).
Bledsoe has yet to even graduate high school but that didn’t stop the tech savvy teen from launching his own business.
Bledsoe was only 13 when he became a tech entrepreneur. Roughly three years later his IT services company, Jaylen D. Bledsoe Global Group, formerly known as Bledsoe Technologies, has started working with major companies in a variety of different countries.
The teen’s ability to successfully launch and expand a major tech company hasn’t gone unnoticed. Bledsoe earned a spot as an honoree for Ebony’s Power 100 list along with comedian and TV personality Steve Harvey, today’s most influential international powerhouse songstress Beyonce and the media mogul herself Oprah Winfrey.
The self-taught coding expert and web designer started out designing websites and working on digital projects for friends and family before he realized he had the skills to run an entire business.
“Seventh grade year I was working mostly websites for friends and family and kind of from there I realized that I had a really unique skill that people really didn’t have,” Bledsoe explained. “So I learned it even more and eventually started my own business eighth grade year.”
Now, Bledsoe spends much of his time fulfilling duties as the CEO of a global company, a public speaker who often garners crowds of thousands of eager listeners, a young entrepreneur serving as a role model for other emerging entrepreneurs and, of course, as a student in school holding multiple student leadership positions and maintaining an impressive grade point average.
In addition to the obvious display of work ethics, Bledsoe also expressed his desire to use his company to have a positive impact on the world, which makes him the ideal candidate for AT&T’s campaign.
“My goal for the company has never been about financial gain. It’s always been to impact the world in a better way,” Bledsoe said.
AT&T’s campaign also featured an entrepreneur whose unlikely background helped her pave a successful path through Silicon Valley.
Lynne D. Johnson (pictured above, center) is currently a pop culture journalist who used her gift of communication to become an incredible success in the social media and digital content space.
In the past Johnson has served as a director of digital and social media strategy in the brand strategy and marketing practice at Waggener Edstrom.
With an extensive background in the media industry, Johnson was able to provide a fresh push for creative content for some of today’s most popular media brands, including Vibe, Spin and Fast Company.
Doubling as a pop culture journalist and one of today’s more requested keynote speakers in the technology space was no easy feat for Johnson, especially considering the diversity problem that is plaguing Silicon Valley.
A Black employee in a leadership position in Silicon Valley is unheard of, while a Black woman in a leadership position in Silicon Valley almost seems mythical to some.
Despite incredibly high barriers to entry, Johnson defied all odds and is now one of the most in-demand content and community consultants in the technology space.