Rolling Out

Hayti CEO Cary Wheelous is building the future of Black media, all on 1 mobile app

Cary Wheelous is allowing Black media to have a voice by building a complete ecosystem for Black Media via Hayti

Cary Wheelous is the founder and CEO of Hayti, the largest Black-owned app that aggregates digital content from newspapers, magazines, videos, and podcasts. The overarching function of this app is to highlight content from Black content creators around the world.

Prior to Hayti, the native North Carolinian founded College Health TV, which is the nation’s leading and most trusted streaming service providing health and wellness programming for college students at colleges and universities in the United States.

Where were you when you got the idea of Hayti?

I live in North Carolina. Hayti is the name of North Carolina’s Black Wall Street. I initially started out pulling news content because the Carolina Times had gone out of business in 2020 during COVID and I wanted to be able to help out Black publishers. I realized that they were facing a lot of issues and I wanted to build technology that didn’t exist to be able to truly help them reach mobile users and monetize the platform. Throughout that process, as I started pulling in news, I listened to podcasts, and during that process, I said to myself, “Wow, I go to Apple News, I go to Google News, and there are just so many podcasts out there, but I can’t find what I’m actually looking for; especially when it comes to finding podcasts from Black hosts and Black podcasters.” I searched and couldn’t find it. I said, “I’m going to build a tech company around that, too.” I started development on that last year in North Carolina. Hayti is now the largest Black-owned podcast app in the nation, and I’m really proud of that.

What are some tips you can give for building an app?

I’m connected to two co-working spaces in North Carolina, and the first thing I always tell people is I would have spent a lot of money early on that I did not have to spend. But thankfully, because I’m connected to co-working spaces, they’re connected to companies like Google and Apple and other companies that provide credits. Early on, I was able to receive about 20,000 credits and they helped me build the application. While I was building, I didn’t have to spend a lot of money on server costs in terms of managing the server. I highly recommend anybody who’s out there looking to build, that there are opportunities for you that exist, where you don’t have to come out of your pocket initially to spend the money to work on developing the app. At the same time, you’re going to have some other costs to be able to manage the server and manage all of that traffic and the data that’s flowing through. That’s one of the benefits that I was afforded and I share that with other entrepreneurs as well.

What are the advantages for CEOs who have a co-working space?

It just made sense in terms of the work that we were doing. Obviously, we are in the media phase, and a lot of businesses and co-working spaces come from different backgrounds. You’ve got media companies, you’ve got marketing people, finance, and tech, and it’s a wide variety of different people to be able to tap into. I realized that I have to build this company, but I need help. I need help from media companies like rolling out, I need help from marketing people, I need help from other tech people, and you just never know who you’re going to meet through that process. This is me working with other people from different backgrounds, from different industries to help me build and grow and scale this business. The co-working space affords that to anybody once you get plugged into the network and then other opportunities eventually can come your way as well.

What are the benefits of being a part of the Black Owned Media Equity and Sustainability Institute (BOMESI)?

It’s been very helpful to expose Hayti to other publishers that may not know that Hayti exists. We’re a small company, and I’m working in marketing. As you can imagine, I spend a lot more money on technology but when BOMESI has access to block publishers across the world, I have the opportunity to be able to tap into these publishers that would normally take me, weeks, months, even years sometimes to be able to get on their rolodex. With BOMESI, they’ve made some introductions for me, and publishers, and now I’m having conversations with publishers to onboard them to give them the experience. I tell people all the time, everybody has a news feed like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but that feed on those platforms is for the majority, and your content probably will not show up. I built this platform to highlight and really focus on driving traffic and monetizing and making sure our Black publishers can get the impressions and drive the revenue that they need, but BOMESI has been able to open that door to expose me to a lot of different publishers and content creators that exist out here.

What is your CEO style?

My style is not to work around the clock, it’s to have a work-life balance. I work with my developers and my marketing team, and I try to make sure that I have balance in my life. I try to make sure that they have balance in their life as well. We all work hard, and we all have a common goal that’s actually put out there. I set the standard for that, but at the same time, I want to make sure that people have flexibility in their schedules so they don’t become overwhelmed. This is a process and it’s a journey along the way. There are going to be changes along the way, and also I have to learn to be flexible. There are things that I want to get done and things that I want to get done in a certain timeframe. As a CEO you have to learn to be flexible and I’ve learned that through the course of developing technology because it never happened.

What effect do you want your podcast to have on people?

If they searched today, they will go to Hayti, and they will go to the menu bar at the bottom where it says podcast. When you see that page, you’re going to see a couple of things that I’m just describing to you, and you can search for any podcasts that exist out there. I’ve tried to collect as many as I possibly can. There are over 2000 Black podcasters on the platform today. In addition to that, I just signed a contract with the Black Podcasters Association, so we’re working hand in hand with the Black Podcasters Association to highlight different podcasters that exist that normally don’t get the recognition or the coverage that they should. This podcast is creating some amazing content and we’re going to be highlighting them together. In addition to that, as you scroll down the page, you will be able to look at different categories. We have arts and culture, we have business, we have sports, we have Caribbean culture, we have culture for the brothers and sisters, and I have topics and categories that you’re not going to see anywhere else. It’s all curated, so for the first time you can get experience and find content or podcasts from Black podcasters that you never knew existed before.

What are some of the things that have surprised you from presenting this podcast?

There is one that I was surprised about, and it’s about entrepreneurs. In addition, there are just so many more. There are some historical podcasts that I have on a platform, and I am just amazed by the quality of the content and production quality that exists out there, to be able to highlight and bring some of these stories to the table. My goal is to present these podcasts in a very organized fashion, to allow us to enable podcasters that exist, and to be able to make sure that their podcast has listeners. These podcasts are spending lots of money to host their channels, they’re spending money on production quality on microphones, and they’re trying to get some amazing messages out. They do what everybody else does, they use Spotify, Apple, and other distribution platforms. Those distribution platforms, once again are not focused on you, they focus on the majority. You get lost in the sauce. I want to be able to highlight your podcast so that people can be able to share those podcasts, you can be able to save them to a playlist to play it later, and I want to able to build a complete ecosystem for Black Media. My goal is to build the future of Black media, all in one mobile app.

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