I read a stat that reads, 1 in 18 or .06% of executives of tech firms are African-American or Latino. After reading the stat I was completely floored thus I set out to speak with a minority owned tech startup.
Meet George T. Reynolds, Founder/Senior Partner, SurveyStud, Inc. a cloud-based software company located in Houston, Texas.
George what’s the significance of the name “SurveyStud”?
When I decided to open a survey company, I knew it had to stand out, not only in productivity but in name. So the first name I thought of was SurveyStud. Checked online and it was available.
How does the software work?
The software is available in the App store with four primary componets: 1) Its strictly designed for mobile phones, 2) user registeration is not required to use the service [somewhat like using Youtube], 3) analytics are captured and synthesized, and 4) the ability to send the data as its happening via text.
Its no secret that women, and minorities are badly underrepresented in the tech world. What are your thoughts on the subject?
There is absolutly an under-representation, and we are trying to do our part within the walls of SurveyStud to correct this misfortune. I feel the system is out of balance.
Exactly how are you trying to correct this?
It’s an issue that people within SurveyStud, Inc. are trying to figure out right now. There’s been a lot of conversation around contributing factors that suggest we as an industry do not have an open door policy to talent. The industry tends to look for people from specific schools, with a speicifc gpa, when intruth thats not what I want. I need a person that can code their but off, and think outside the box–not a potentially snobby MBA. Note there is nothing wrong with education because I have it. But what I’m saying talent-is-talent, and whatever package it presents itself in, if I can use it, I want it. I want/need to invest in people that can get on first base–a strong gpa does not scream auto-success to me. HOWEVER, a successful product, and or history screams you know what you’re doing. SurveyStud, Inc needs sharp and successful people, and I want to invest in them in every sense of the word.
What inspired SurveyStud, Inc.?
I worked at NASAs, Johnson Space Center for a couple of years, and during this time, I saw a lot of very creative interns or co-ops. Well there was this one co-op that asked me why am I not the CEO of my own company. That question haunted me for 3yrs, until I took a leap of faith.
What about the question haunted you?
In my heart, I knew that person’s observation of me had some merit. I have all the tools, experience, and the drive yet, I was working for a company that could replace me in a heart beat. I was conditioned to work for someone else (go to school, get married, and get a good job), so the thought of working for myself was out of the question!
You obviously put a lot of time and effort into SurveyStud, Inc. What is the most important thing you have learned to date?
At SurveyStud, Inc. I don’t strive to be a leader, I strive to make an impact via my leadership. The emphasis on self-knowledge, accountability and trust, and the message that those things should not be optional or afterthoughts, are core parts of success for this company.
Your final thoughts: Women are poorly represented in tech, yet SurveyStud, Inc for whatever reason seems to understand this, and is trying to make a difference. Why?
I have daughters, and I understand how unforgiving the world can be. So I figure if change is to come… why not start with me, and my company. As the lifecycle of SurveyStud happens, meaning people will come and go, hopefully they will take our commitment to diversity with them.