What is your current role and where do you work?
I am the CEO of Safe2Meet, LLC and Online Media Interactive. Safe2Meet is my tech startup—I’ve built the world’s first peer-to-peer platform for verifying identity and performing background checks. We’re in beta now and just secured $1.5 million dollars in investment funds which will allow us to launch and market the platform. Online Media Interactive is my web development and digital marketing agency.
How did you get into tech?
I always loved computers. My mother bought me a Commodore 64 when I was 15 years old or so and I was hooked after that. I dabbled with teaching myself how to write code until I entered a community program at the age of 19 that taught BASIC, and eventually earned a Bachelor’s in CIS and a Master’s in Information Technology.
What’s your favorite technology to work with and why?
I LOVE databases—data fuels everything, and if you control the data, you control everything. I was asked to teach Database Systems for Southern Polytechnic State University (now part of Kennesaw State) when I graduated from grad school and I’ve loved working with them ever since. Now I’m very into NoSQL and other non-RDBMS database technologies.
What project are you most proud to have worked on and why?
Safe2Meet, hands down. Besides providing a way for people to meet and do business with strangers, we really believe Safe2Meet will save lives. All you have to do is Google “Craigslist Murders” to see what I mean by that.
What do you see as the most interesting technology on the horizon?
I’m fascinated by Machine Learning and predictive analytics and what it will do for the way we make decisions as a society. It’s the whole ‘Minority Report’ concept, except instead or pre-cogs (movie reference), we’ll be ingesting massive amounts of data and analyzing it to make decisions about everything under the sun—we already are in fact. Machine Learning and predictive analytics are a key part of the future vision for the Safe2Meet platform.
If you weren’t working in tech, what would you be doing?
Writing. I’m an avid writer, and have published books about social media, Barack Obama, and one work of fiction called “Duped By Love” which was optioned for a movie of the same name.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your tech career?
Be okay with change, because no industry experiences as much as fast as the tech industry. You have to not only be okay with it, you have to embrace it.
What can companies do to create more inclusive environments?
Partner with organizations that are dedicated to exposing technology to minority youth to provide pathways into those careers. Technology has afforded all of us the ability to learn how to do amazing things independent of a formal college degree. This means that we can drive adoption of STEM careers via alternative education, in ways that ensure that more minorities get opportunities more quickly.
What keeps you busy when you’re not being a technologist?
Ha! I’m never NOT busy being a technologist these days because of my tech startup. But when I find the time, I love spending time with my extended family—cooking for them, celebrating birthdays and holidays, etc.