Katrina Miles is the co-founder and chief strategic officer at Roscoe Lab, a mobile app development company. Her mobile TV app, Roscoe. tv, is designed to bring together news junkies, casual journalists and media professionals locally. Miles is changing the way we communicate in more ways than one; she's also an award-winning television and documentary film producer. ESSENCE.com caught up with the young business owner to discuss why more African Americans need to get involved in the tech industry and what type of legacy she would like to leave behind.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us about your journey. How did you become the co-founder and chief strategic officer at Roscoe Labs?
KATRINA MILES: The company, Roscoe Labs, was founded by myself and two friends, Lawrence Patrick and Peter McKay, who met at Florida A&M University's journalism school in the mid 1990s. After 15 years in various aspects of journalism—from straight reporting, to technology and television, to non-profit and policy, and feeling exasperated at what we believe is the incumbent media's failure at devising a sustainable model for journalism, we decided to do it ourselves and I believe we can.
I began my career in journalism and organizational management kind of simultaneously. It was my early training in journalism that taught me how to understand, develop and critique strategy. So, making the jump to policy, and eventually, business leadership and development was a very natural progression for me, and ultimately it added value as we began to form the company.
ESSENCE.com: Seeing how there is low Black representation in the startup world, who are your role models?
MILES: Sadly, many of the thought leaders in tech aren't in touch with the African Americans who are. So, people like Edward Kirulata at Omicia.com, or Jill Ford in San Francisco are overlooked. I think even tech writers like Lauren DeLisa Coleman, who have deep connections and can add value to TechCrunch or TwiT, are locked out or go unnoticed.
ESSENCE.com: Why do more African Americans need to get involved in the tech industry?
MILES: I believe the tech industry‚—in its many incarnations—is where we as a country are headed. If we are ever going to bridge the digital divide gap, then we have to take risks and jump in.
ESSENCE.com: How did you come up with the idea for an app to bring journalists together?
MILES: Our app, Roscoe.tv, is a mobile television news app designed to bring casual and professional reporters together, on the same platform to report and distribute local news. It is the product of lots of research, thoughtful development and market testing. At every step along the way, our team continues to ask the hard questions about what it means to be a journalist today. New users are content creators and content creators are product developers. We are mobile-focused; so we are designing, creating and iterating with that in mind.
ESSENCE.com: During your most challenging times, what motivates you to continue to make strides in the mobile app industry?
MILES: One of our core values is that a free press and access to information is vital for civic engagement and a lasting democracy. To have a hand in creating the necessary tools is very exciting! So, when things get really tough I am encouraged that we will have an impact on the industry as a whole.
ESSENCE.com: What type of legacy would you like to leave behind?
MILES: I believe Roscoe.tv will cause us to redefine who is a journalist, and hopefully, how we communicate and interact with technology.