Kunbi Tinuoye Interview: British-Nigerian CEO + Founder, UrbanGeekz

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https://www.definingcultures.com/kunbi-tinuoye-interview-british-nigerian-ceo-founder-urbangeekz/

 

Kunbi Tinuoye british nigerian


Born and raised in London, Kunbi Tinuoye was surrounded by diversity and a strong sense of self and her Nigerian culture. She’s now on U.S. soil using her journalism background to her advantage as she builds a global digital empire with an earnest mission.

“Black and Latino-led media platforms do not cover enough issues related to tech, business, and entrepreneurship. Mainstream technology blogs also don’t pay enough attention to the growing multicultural market, so I launched UrbanGeekz to fill a much-needed gap in the marketplace. This digital news platform is the first-of-its-kind content site that covers technology, business, and entrepreneurship from a multicultural perspective.”


“I always identified as being British-Nigerian. When I was younger, I traveled back to Nigeria, so that helps when you go back home. The first time I went was at 13...”

Growing up, Kunbi heard the language, went to Nigerian parties, and had friends from all walks of life – Asians, Africans, and Jamaicans.

Her identity was never a question.

Intro to Journalism

At the University of Cambridge, one of the world's leading academic centers, Kunbi’s cultural foundation never wavered within a predominately White student and faculty population.

She decided on a dual program where she earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Social and Political Science. And by the time Kunbi graduated, she knew journalism was her calling.

Her career began as a reporter for London’s Evening Standard newspaper, and the signs of a promising journalist sprouted – placing BBC News on alert. They picked her up and gave her the opportunity to solidify her presence in broadcast journalism.

For a couple of years, Kunbi took on multimedia roles, including working as a Web Content Producer and TV Producer at BBC South East Today, and a TV Producer at BBC World News.

Vacation in Atlanta

A personal getaway became a turning point in Kunbi’s life. Simply visualizing a Black middle class filled with Black professionals, she saw an opportunity. And an added bonus: commerce, nightlife, real estate, and even the weather were all great!

“For me, Atlanta just worked.”

In 2011, Kunbi emigrated from the UK to America; making Atlanta her new home along with theGrio – an American website with news, opinion, entertainment and video content geared toward African-Americans.

*theGrio originally launched as a division of NBC News in 2009, and became a division of MSNBC in 2013.

theGrio

“I had such a great experience at theGrio. At the time, Joy Reid* was the Managing Editor at theGrio. She hired me. She is a phenomenal, amazing manager; such a great person and role model.”

*Joy-Ann Lomena-Reid, also known as Joy Reid, is a host and national correspondent at MSNBC covering politics.

When Kunbi joined theGrio as a News Correspondent for the southeast, the company’s head office was based at the Rockefeller Center in New York, but she was based in Atlanta. This distance afforded her flexibility and the opportunity to essentially be her own boss.

She was responsible for dictating the agenda for what needed to be covered in southern states, particularly Georgia and Florida. In addition, Kunbi reached out to several national and international connects to cover stories from Africa, Europe, as well as domestic headliners.

Through theGrio, Kunbi got a taste of independence within the world of journalism. For almost 4 years, she primarily worked from home and enjoyed every bit of it. So when it came time for her to make her next career move, working for someone was unfathomable.

“…I knew I wanted to do my own thing. The next thing was to build a great brand…”

About UrbanGeekz

In 2015, Kunbi launched UrbanGeekz (branded as one word) – a tech news site highlighting people of color. The groundbreaking, video-centric, digital news platform focuses on technology, science, business, and startups.

She tirelessly and strategically prepped for the launch by dropping a barrage of about 20 quality editorials to set the tone. Some of her first interviews for the site included: Kimberly Bryant, an electrical engineer and Founder of Black Girls Code, and Atlanta-based tech entrepreneur, Rodney Samson.

“One of the things that differentiate us from other brands is that we’re video centric…My background is television, so that’s given me a bit of an edge because I’m visual. For us, an ideal story would include great high-res images or slides, a well-written editorial and video content.”

On-the-ground, the company has done partnerships with 20th Century FOX, AT&T and Silicon Valley-based global venture capital seed fund, 500 Startups. And in terms of advertising, UrbanGeekz has partnered with big wigs such as Intel, Nielsen and Home Depot.

“It’s a bootstrapped startup, but at the same time, it has been an amazing journey. We have a lot of traction and have stories that have gone viral.” Creating content that has garnered over 40,000 shares on Facebook, and being re-tweeted by The White House (Obama Administration) are just some of UrbanGeekz’ digital accomplishments.

With a small team of social media experts, editors and hosts, UrbanGeekz continues to gain momentum, along with accolades and awards. They remain steadfast in believing that content is king, so watch out for their push to deliver exceptional video content (shows and interviews via GeekzWatch) focused on people of color in tech, innovation, and Silicon Valley.

Kunbi will not stop until her vision, for turning the platform into a global media brand, is realized.

In 2016, she was 1 of 5 entrepreneurs that pitched an original business idea to a panel of judges at PUSH Tech 2020 Pitch Competition sponsored by Rev. Jessie L. Jackson Sr.’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition. And she won!

CEO Kunbi Tinuoye moderating at the '500 Startups' Unity & Inclusion Summit (June 2017)

Black in America vs. Black in Britain

“I personally think black people have more opportunities in America…My journey here has been good. And I think Atlanta, particularly for people of color who are ambitious, who are professionals, I think you can make head way here…America is vast, and obviously every experience is different. It may not be the same in every city, but Atlanta is kicking.

Another thing – coming in as an immigrant, I can really see the opportunities that America has to offer people who are hard working and ambitious. There is a system. I’m acutely aware of race issues, but compared to London, this is better.”

In addition to being well traveled, Kunbi's ability to experience life from different perspectives allow her to gracefully meld her British, Nigerian, and 'Black in America' cultures together.

As for Nigerians, “I think we are go-getters and are ambitious. It's cultural...That’s why you find so many doing quite well in America. All of this has impacted who I am.”

Her advice to someone who may be struggling with their cultural identity:

“Embrace who you are. Love who you are, really and truly.

There was a time when people laughed at my name, but because my foundation was quite strong, I’ve always been really comfortable being Nigerian. Even when I was in those [predominately White] environments at university, I was really at ease because I knew who I was. I was never intimidated…”

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- Images courtesy of Kunbi Tinuoye

- Check out UrbanGeekz HERE

- Follow UrbanGeekz on Twitter/Instagram: @UrbanGkz and Facebook: @UrbanGeekz