Wayne Sutton’s is the quintessential technology and digital media savant. As a testament to his social media prowess, this tech journalist, high-tech entrepreneur, analyst and speaker is one of the few blacks who are not celebrities with Facebook and Twitter Verified accounts because of his wide-reaching work with the redoubtable Silicon Valley in Northern California. New media flows through his veins like so many white blood cells. He fell in love with his Transformer toys as a kid in North Carolina and he harnessed that uncontainable passion for all things technological and soon harnessed it into a prosperous entrepreneurial career as the founder of PitchTo, which manages and rates founder pitches and co-founder of Student Ventures (StudentVentures.org), a nonprofit organization which mission is to expose middle and high school students to the world of entrepreneurship, mobile app development, digital technology and STEM education.
Therefore, a definite synergy was at work — not to mention serendipity for impressionable and talented young students — when AT&T asked Sutton participate in the the telecom titan’s AT&T 28 Days campaign in homage of Black History Month. AT&T aligns communoity teams with a celebrity mentor to compete through a series of weekly challenges throughout the month of February in support of local non-profit organizations. The teams also have a chance to win the grand prize of $20,000.
The designer and digital media connoisseur is also highly-sought after at companies and colleges because he can effectively articulate the many benefits of harnessing the awesome power of social media and leveraging it for individual creativity, empowering communities, and building brands exponentially. Because of this, Sutton has been featured on eminent media outlets such as CNN, (British) BBC, USA Today, TechCrunch, Mashable and Black Enterprise. Moroever, Sutton was one of the first 1000 users on Twitter which as lead to a loyal following not only on Twitter, but Facebook and Google+. His blog, SocialWayne.com, has been ranked one of the 50 best technology and social media blogs in the world.
African Americans, particularly the younger generation, are inordinate users of social/digital media, but many unfortunately do not discern the plethora of revenue- and brand-generating opportunities through these platforms. That’s where Sutton, whose love of the medium can never be extinguished, comes into play.
“I love technology. I’m a geek. I love what online communities have done,” he says before discussing the impetus to entering into this industry. “It’s a combination of the two. I was more a drive of circumstances of growing up. Growing up, I loved to play with Tranformers. We had a farm with cattle and things like that. I remember working outside. I was there with my uncles and cousins and I saw this. I grew up in the country part of NC. I also had passion for arts. I didn’t want to be in that same predicament.
In 2011, Sutton co-founded the NewMe Accelerator, the first minority led startup accelerator/incubator in Silicon Valley which was featured in CNN Black in America 4 in 2011 and launched a mobile location-based startup in 2009. Wayne has 14 years experience in design and business development and has founded two software companies. Sutton discusses his motivation about how he succeeded and whose fire continues to burn for the industry.
“I set a lot of goals. I want my son to have the best life he can have. I’m inspired by the black tech scene and I’m challenged by the students at the colleges,” he said. I have a passion for technology. You have to stay connected. You always have to be growing and learning through education. Put you head down and don’t watch a lot of TV,” he said.
Sutton said that with dedication and meticulous devotion to their craft, others can blaze trails the same way Sutton has in his illustrious career. Most people eye entertainers, musicians and athletes as their role models, Sutton looks to the trailblazing pioneers such as Omar Warsow, the genius internet analyst who founded BlackPlanet.com, and Mitch Kapor, who created the Lotus Development Corporation and designed the Lotus 1-2-3.
“I think what it takes to be iconic, is that you have confidence and faith in yourself. Be willing to make a difference and see things to the end and empower others. Iconic status with our demographic mostly centers around hip hop artists. Mitch Kapor is iconic status. Omar Warsow is iconic. But a lot of people don’t even know who they are. These are people who run billion dollar companies. Warsow created Facebook before Facebook.”
In order to ascend the hierarchy of an technology company, or be successful in your own company, there are certain intangibles that people must possess or attain.
“Continued learning is so so important part for African Americans. You must always be learning. Life takes us through a lot of challenges. It takes learning and passion and continued learning. That is the only way for us to achieve ultimate success. And educate your children early. You don’t have wait until grade 3 for math. You can learn grade 3 math at age 3.”
Even though Sutton has procured accolades and great success within digital media industry, he derives considerable gratification with disseminating the invaluable information that he has attained so that others can experience success in the medium that is conspicuously dearth of blacks. This is just one of the reasons that Sutton collaborated for the AT&T 28 Days.
“You look at a time when African Americans were known for entertainment and the sports field so far. And those are great industries. But we also live in a time where there are great opportunities for innovations, particularly in technology,” Sutton said. “I never set out to make history. I wanted to have an impact. I look at my hometown and my classmates and I see an opportunity for improvement. And that’s what I set out to achieve.”
Sutton is the embodiment of these five keys to success:
1. Keep moving forward.
2. Make it happen. A lot of times we talk about things. But we have to make it happen.
3. Having it done is better than doing it perfectly.
4. You have to focus if you want to achieve anything.
5. You must always be learning
For more information, log onto att.com/28days or #ATT28Days.