Ivy-league graduates in hoodies aren’t the only ones making major moves in Silicon Valley. Meet Angela Benton, a powerhouse of the tech boom and founder of NewME. The single mom of three daughters and startup coach has helped entrepreneurs raise more than $10 million for their companies. See her secrets to building your million-dollar enterprise.
Name: Angela Benton
Age: 32 Position: Founder and CEO of NewME
Location: San Francisco
Hometown: Chicago, IL
The gig: NewME is a way for entrepreneurs to transform cool ideas into great businesses with the help of mentors, investors and expert training. It is extremely satisfying to see an idea that started on paper turn into a real thriving business.
The journey: I started the site Black Web 2.0 in 2007, which covered the technology industry from an African American perspective. It was where I discovered my passion for technology, entrepreneurship and seeing people like me succeed. People constantly told me that I would hit a glass ceiling, but I had a gut feeling that this was something that had no limits.
Entrepreneur 101: Learn everything you can about your industry. It’s up to the CEO to prepare for possible roadblocks. Also, find people with experience running a similar business and ask them for advice. Having a few of these relationships can significantly reduce how long it might take an entrepreneur to get to the next level.
Confessions of a Black woman in Silicon Valley: In my industry there just aren’t a lot of Black women period. So my biggest challenge is self-imposed: believing that I can achieve what I want to achieve even though there aren’t many examples. I do that not just for myself, but also for those we work with.
Her biggest lesson learned: The mistake that I learned the most from was caring what people thought about me and my business. I spent a year talking to investors and other impressive people in Silicon Valley when I initially moved. I’m appreciative of that experience but at the end of the day it distracted me from what I knew to be true. I eventually stopped asking for advice, believing in myself more, and not caring what the industry would think of my decisions.
Time-saving tip: I travel a lot and save time by only packing dresses when I can. Also, I almost never check a bag, so I can get in and out of the airport quicker.
Her best advice: I don’t think too much in the future about how something is going to work out or how I’m going to balance it all with kids. Just make the decisions based on what I want and everything will fall into place. We’ve helped entrepreneurs raise close to $10.4MM since we launched in June 2011. However, what makes me most proud is seeing how an entrepreneur's life changes from building a sustainable business or raising funding.
Network tip: Most people you are trying to network with get asked to coffee by many people, so instead ask for a 30 minute call at their convenience and offer something in return based on your area of expertise. If the person is available at 10am on a Saturday then it’s up to you to make yourself available.
Her stress relievers: In my downtime I’m almost always with my kids. They keep me busy. When I have time for just me I’m usually listening to music and catching up on design trends. I’m also a big fan of massages and treat myself 1 to 2 times a month. I also just started meditating each morning for about 30 minutes and I workout on occasion.
Student loan status: I’m still paying them.
Her secret superpower: My intuition. It’s almost never wrong and I’ve trained myself not to ignore it!
Tech must-haves: I use Uber for taxis, Instacart for grocery shopping, Washio for laundry and Hotel Tonight for business travel. I recently switched from my iPhone to a Nexus 5 and love it.
Her beauty bag: I can’t live without a good fragrance and mascara! Lancome’s Hypnose Drama mascara really makes my eyes pop and it’s a good alternative to fake lashes. I change my fragrance depending on how I feel. Right now I’m between Tom Ford Violet Blonde and Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede.
Her theme song: “Trophies” by Drake