How the Black Tech community is using hip-hop business models to grow

  • Lauren deLisa Coleman is a trend analyst and author at the intersection of pop culture and emerging technology.
  • Coleman says black tech business models are reminiscent of the hip hop industry in the ’90s.
  • For black founders, “it’s about moving strategically and blowing up,” says Coleman.

Forget the old tech mantra of going fast and breaking things. For black tech entrepreneurs and founders, who receive less than 1% of VC funding, it’s about moving strategically and blowing it up.

Lauren by Lisa Coleman

The author.

Lisa Coleman’s Lauren


As an artificial intelligence entrepreneur with a background in the hip-hop music industry, I started noticing business models in black tech that look a lot like what I saw in my early years. gold of hip hop in the 90s.

Strong business models coupled with pure talent have allowed hip-hop to grow into a multi-billion dollar industry.

The unrivaled and multi-faceted approach of hip-hop artists in the business world has hardly ever slept. Many recording artists were also CEOs of independent labels. They might also have had a promotional or graphic design business, as well as a clothing brand or accessories line partnered with streetwear designers.

They were veritable factories of commerce and sales. And then it was all amplified by “the crew” – or in common parlance, a collective.

The Wu-Tang Clan was and continues to be its own kind of crew at this time; The Dogg Pound Gangstaz went beyond the duo Daz and Kurupt to include artists Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Nate Dogg and the DOC You get the idea.

But these legendary crews weren’t just about creativity and recognition, they were also sales driven. Hockey stick profit growth followed, thanks to a self-sustaining and self-managed business approach that has enabled many players in the hip-hop industry to be successful.

Read more: A black founder raised millions of VCs. He shares his top tips for overcoming investment bias and succeeding in Silicon Valley.

Now we’re starting to see various “teams” and collaborations emanating from the dark tech space.

A perfect example of this is the Black NFT Crypto for Black Economic Empowerment (CBEE) “crew” led by finance genius Erikan Obotetukudo who has partnered up with Cuy Sheffield, a CryptoArt collector and acting head of crypto at VISA.

Obotetukudo started CBEE as a place where black crypto entrepreneurs can connect and share tips. Through Sheffield, it also offers initiations and collaborations to amplify projects deemed worthy of certain entrepreneurs outside the group.

Recently, this team came together by pooling resources and leveraging notable names like rapper Pusha T and model Tyra Banks to support the downfall of former MLB Dodger player turned artist Micah’s artistic debut. Johnson, who ended up selling for $ 1.4 million in seven minutes.

And then there’s Trillicon, a collective of technologists, photographers, and designers known as the Wu-Tang of tech.

“‘Trillicon’ is a play on the phrase ‘Trill’ or true and real,” Jason Mayden, CEO of Trillicon, told Insider. “In 2014, as a faculty member at Stanford, I began to connect with other like-minded people. We formed a collective as an extension of my private practice of design and business strategy. “

Trillicon CEO Jason Mayden

Trillicon CEO Jason Mayden.

Courtesy of Jason Mayden


“We all ran in adjacent circles; some of us went to college together and others were friends of friends. It was our faith, our personal ethics and our collective aspiration to be leaders. servants to advance technology and entrepreneurship, ”Mayden said.

“For the founders of Color, our emotional and mental challenges and labors have varying degrees of complexity and nuance that result from generations of disenfranchisement. As an outsider, it was important to define my point. unique view on ideation and problem solving. ”

As popular today as hip hop is, it was initially seen as a persona non grata both in the big music industry and in culture in general.

Kino Childrey, a manager in the music industry who has worked with artists like 2021 Grammy rap nominee Royce da 5’9, told Insider: “Hip hop was seen as outside the typical parameters of the world. “The record industry. We’ve been left out for a long time, (like) the outcasts. People didn’t get it.”

Childrey says a lot of hip-hop has realized that collaboration is the key to success. By working together, artists could motivate major record labels to join us, followed by the alcohol and fashion industries.

Josh Otis Miller, filmmaker and director of an upcoming documentary called “Fund Black Tech” echoed those sentiments.

Josh otis miller

Josh Otis Miller is a filmmaker and director of the upcoming documentary “Fund Black Tech”.

Courtesy of Josh Otis Miller


“Hip hop was born out of the removal of black voices,” he said, “and what’s happening in the tech scene is black voices, dark ideas, that are being suppressed. hip hop is the music industry’s biggest revenue generator, the biggest creator of culture around the world. Imagine a world where black ideas and black tech companies have a voice. “

When even the National Science Foundation’s SBIR Grants for Founders of Technology over the years hold an average of only 8% of the awards for all other than Caucasian males, you have to get creative to find your way. as the founder of color.

“Technology is all about reinventing,” Childrey added, “so this hip hop approach is proof of that. It is about taking the path of least resistance in order to survive and overcome those who try to hold you back.”

Lauren deLisa Coleman is a digital trends analyst, author and speaker at the intersection of popular culture, emerging technologies and the impact of these trends on business and governance.

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