Celebrated entrepreneurs Dr. Kortney Ziegler and Tiffany Mikell have launched BlackStarMedia, an online and on-site accelerator for emerging black creators. Both Mikell and Ziegler have a wide range of experience in the business field. Ziegler, the founder of Trans*H4CK, is an acclaimed writer, filmmaker and entrepreneur, and Tiffany Mikell is a gifted software engineer and technical artist. I had the amazing opportunity to interview them about their new project!
What made you want to create BlackStarMedia?
Both founders of BlackStarMedia have experiences rooted in social entrepreneurship, technology and creative arts. Over the last 10 years, we have both benefited from and helped develop platforms, networks and organizations that deliver creative, technical and entrepreneurial education.
Unfortunately, we continued to observe missing elements in the emerging landscape of incubators, accelerators and startup schools. These spaces are often focused exclusively on “pattern matching” and do not actively support the ideas of a wide range of startups and founders.
Black creatives are producing some of the most innovative content under independent brands across industries such as film, writing, tech and social media. Their images and words are changing minds and challenging mainstream perceptions in ways that have never been done before. Even so, many overwhelmingly talented black creators lack the guidance and resources needed to grow their products into profitable companies, leaving much of their work undiscovered.
BlackStarMedia is founded with the mission of supporting the ecosystem of entrepreneurs and creators of color.
How does BlackStarMedia differ from other accelerators?
Most initiatives geared towards increasing black representation in the startup ecosystem focus specifically on tech and STEM startups, leaving creative focused black entrepreneurs behind. We center our curriculum and resources around the learning and capital requisites of creators of color who are over represented in the indie creative sphere (film, blogging, new media, etc.) but lack the support infrastructure to grow.
How does BlackStarMedia hope to help black entrepreneurs create their brand in light of the lack of diversity in mainstream tech?
The BlackStarMedia network consists primarily of mentors/advisors of color who have successful entrepreneurial track records. Their business insight is shaped by navigating the startup world as an underrepresented subject, an experience that is invaluable to the creators. Black entrepreneurs have always historically succeeded when we pool our resources together. When black entrepreneurs create in an environment that is respectful of their identity, they have far greater success than in predominantly white spaces.
Social media is a platform that has experienced expansive growth in the last couple of years. What is your advice to business owners in regards to staying relevant on social media in such a big pool of other corporations?
Social Media is about having two-way conversations. It’s an amazing way to connect with followers, supporters, fans and customers. Similar to inperson relationships, potential customers will connect most with your work and content when you communicate in a genuine, authentic manner. Scaling entrepreneurs are often in a better position to make those personal connections than are larger corporations with less personality. Develop a high level strategy for social media but don’t forget to go with the flow and remember that people want to communicate with someone relatable and in real time so no robots.
What do you hope BlackStarMedia will accomplish now that it’s launched?
BlackStarMedia is a creative entrepreneurial education think tank and R&D hub. Our first venture is BlackStarLaunch an online & onsite learning platform, incubator and accelerator. Our goal is to increase creative entrepreneurship in communities of color while developing spaces and platforms that sit at the intersection of the arts, humanity, technology & entrepreneurship what we believe is critical for developing scalable, inclusive solutions of impact.
How can others reach out and help you grow your business?
We’re looking to connect with anyone who wants to support creative entrepreneurship and wealth building in communities of color. We’re also continuing to develop culturally relevant curriculum and resources while also curating a diverse network of creative advisors and aspiring founders from a wide range of backgrounds.
Feel free to email BlackStarMedia founders, Kortney Ziegler (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Tiffany Mikell (email@example.com) with ideas, questions, feedback or support. Visit them at blackstarmedia.org to signup for updates, or say hello on Twitter!