Kunbi Tinuoye, former broadcast journalist and correspondent for the BBC, MSNBC and TheGrio.com, and current on-air contributor to Arise News’ business show Xchange, has recently launched UrbanGeekz.com, a groundbreaking digital news platform dedicated to African-Americans and other underrepresented minorities in technology, science and business. The site offers reviews, interviews, commentary, and original video on startups, geek gadgets, social media, scientific advancements, entrepreneurship and insight into Silicon Valley and the global technology industry. The cutting-edge online publication also provides authoritative lifestyle and entertainment content.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, UrbanGeekz.com, live only since February 9th of this year, has already partnered with telecom giant AT&T and Black Enterprise Magazine to provide content to and about the underserved communities in the tech space. The website also has created a much-needed outlet for dialogue on the most pressing and relevant issues in STEM-related fields: conversations surrounding the preparedness of students to pursue STEM careers, the lack of diversity in the STEM workforce and challenges facing minorities in the tech start-up scene.
Tinuoye, whose parents immigrated to the United Kingdom from Nigeria, was born, raised and educated in London. She graduated from Cambridge University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social and Political Sciences and later received a post-graduate diploma in print journalism. She is also an NCTJ qualified UK professional journalist.
Tinuoye began her career writing for the prestigious London newspaper, the Evening Standard. After stints there and with the BBC, she immigrated to the United States, settling in Atlanta and working for TheGrio.com and MSNBC as a journalist and on-air contributor.
Good Black News recently caught up with Tinuoye and got a chance to talk to this ambitious and intelligent entrepreneur about her journey, why she started UrbanGeekz, and her visions for African-Americans in tech in the near future:
Good Black News: What initially attracted you to journalism?
Kunbi Tinuoye: I’m a communicator – that’s just the core of my personality – I’m a people person. I’ve worked across most platforms, from television to print journalism. I enjoy every aspect of the media industry.
Which aspect of journalism do you like the most?
I started as a writer. Knowing how to write and tell a story is really the core. I say to aspiring journalists, “Make sure you learn how to write,” because once you can put together a well-crafted sentence and get to the crux of a story, then you’ve the ability to be a good journalist.
What made you decide to leave the United Kingdom for the United States?
Me and my husband came on holiday to Atlanta about seven years ago and we basically fell in love with the States. One of my husband’s friends relocated here and was living a comfortable life. Seeing how black professionals live in America, particularly in Atlanta, where you have the ability to work your way up the corporate ladder… I think it was that, the lifestyle and I thought there would be more opportunities for me here.
Do you prefer it here in America?
I absolutely love Atlanta. I feel like I found home. It feels like where I’m meant to be.
Do you have a different perspective on black issues in America being from a different country?
I probably do have a different perspective. For me, coming as an immigrant I feel that, and maybe specifically to Atlanta, which I think is a great place for black professionals, for me there seems to be a phenomenal amount of opportunity, but that’s from my perspective. I know race is a huge issue in America, I’m very aware of that – in London there’s racism as well – maybe at a slightly different level, but of course I’m aware of injustice and all of the issues going on, but at the same time I see America as the land of opportunity – that’s my perspective.
Your experience has spanned three countries – Nigeria through your parents, England and the United States. How do you identify?
K: What can I say… being Nigerian is very important to me, so I would identify as a British Nigerian. I’ve been in the States four years, and now it’s like home.
Why did you start UrbanGeekz?
I was at the Grio for close to four years and it was a phenomenal job. But I felt there was a gap in the market. There wasn’t a minority-led news platform tackling issues related to STEM and the technology industry, which as you know is an important space that’s going to become even more significant in the coming years. The other reason that sparked me to launch UrbanGeekz was when the big tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, released their diversity stats and showed dismal numbers of African-Americans and women. I think that and the combination of just thinking we’re not covering these stories was the impetus.
Who do you consider your competition in the digital tech space?
I’ve got a huge vision for UrbanGeekz. I want the platform to compete with the big players like TechCrunch and the African-American and even the Latino digital news outlets as well. They aren’t my competition now because we’ve just started, but I hope to be at the same level further down the line.
What do you see as the near future for blacks and people of color in tech and science?
There’s been so much conversation about this right now. It’s a hot topic. Some of the big firms, including Intel and Apple, have made major announcements within the last year, [earmarking] money for underserved minorities and women. So I feel and I hope that people of color – and I say “people of color” because UrbanGeekz is a multi-cultural website – African-Americans of course, but I do want to include Latino market at some point and even Africans and Afro-Latinos as well – my hope is that particularly with the current discussion, people of color will become more and more involved in STEM and the tech space. Technology is important and when you look at the high-demand jobs of the future, many require STEM or tech skills. Underserved minorities and women need to have this skill set to level the playing field.
Are East Indians and Asians thought of as “people of color” in tech?
They are doing much better in tech. UrbanGeekz is for underrepresented communities in the technology industry.
Do you think there is enough awareness around disparity in the tech industry?
Before those diversity statistics were publicly released there wasn’t too much focus on the giant tech companies. But people like Reverend Jesse Jackson have been vocal and continued to put the spotlight on the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. Now the issue is a hot topic. It’s also about what kind of skills and jobs that will be in demand in the future. STEM skills are vital for career progression and the continued growth of the U.S. economy. These companies are the new Fortune 500 companies, the new GM [General Motors] or U.S. Steel.
Further down the line, Tinuoye and UrbanGeekz will be launching the UrbanGeekz 100, an annual list of underrepresented minorities making strides in science and technology. The handpicked list will culminate with an on-site exclusive awards gala honoring these dynamic leaders and influencers of color who have achieved success in their prospective industries.
To check out the website, go to UrbanGeekz.com. On social media, find UrbanGeekz at: Twitter: @UrbanGkz, Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/urbangeekz, Instagram: @UrbanGkz, Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/urbangeekzcom/ Google Plus: http://google.com/+Urbangeekz, and YouTube: http://youtube.com/c/Urbangeekz.