Tech can be a complicated industry, but inventor Tashara Earl didn’t let that steer her away from creating a tech company. Starting her career off in entertainment, Tashara decided to turn over a new leaf and take an interest in technology. Being a young, black woman in tech can have it’s challenges because it’s rare to see a woman of color in the industry but it’s a also a gem. Besides having challenges, she’s also had successes; being a top 5 contest in Chamillionaire’s Convoz Pitch contest. She was even a winner at Launch Code’s Moonshot Awards earlier this year. Tashara opened up to DELUX more about her successes, challenges and of course her company.
DELUX: Being a black woman in tech is rare these days. What drew your interest to starting a technology company?
Tashara Earl: The tech industry is an evolution of change. We are now in the digital age. The tech industry peaked my interest because of the life changing aspect and creating something new/never been done before. I’ve always found myself to be a change agent.
DELUX: What have been some challenges you faced being an African American Women in the tech industry?
Tashara Earl: The challenges I’ve faced have been funding….being a woman of color in technology has it’s fair share of challenges. The technology over decades has been viewed as a white male dominated industry, this shows when it comes to funding. This is a conversation that is being talked about throughout the industry when it comes to funding. Women business, especially minority woman-owned business are underfunded. My team and I are finding the opportunities that do offer funding to us, specifically opportunities that love to support Minority- Woman owned businesses. The icing on the cake to gain these funds is being a MBE/WBE/DBE certified business. This certification doesn’t guarantee money but is a leveraging tool to gain more access to funding capital through investors, contracts, grants, etc.
DELUX: That is definitely a challenge. Have you come across any other Black women in tech in Missouri or just in general?
Tashara Earl: Yes I have met some amazing women here in St. Louis and globally through social media platforms. Since my tech company was a featured startup for Chamillionaire’s Convoz Pitch contest, people have became aware of who I am and wanted to connect with me to learn how I got started in the tech industry. Being apart of the startup ecosystem in St. Louis has been an eye opener because of the abundance of resources and support. I have connected with some amazing women and it’s no competition; we all want to see each other rise and win. The innovation company is a completely different experience than what I received from my past career in entertainment. There is a community for Black Women in Tech in St. Louis. If anyone is interested in creating a chapter organization for support and resources here in St. Louis, lets connect!
DELUX: That’s what’s up, but I understand you not wanting to tell your secret lol. What resources/organizations have you used to help you with your tech venture?
Tashara Earl: St. Louis Ecosystem is beyond my wildness imagination of support. I’ve used so many resources to help with my tech venture. Grace Hill Women Business Center “WIBO” program was the start then moving over to the innovation community in the Cortex Industry like Venture Cafe, Innovation Hall, ITEN, WePower, CIC @ CET, SquareOne Bootcamp, BIOSTL, BIOGenerator, the list can go on. Other Organizations like Arch Grants, SLU I Corp, T-Rex and other reputable big name mentors in St. Louis have been a major help with building this tech venture. Look up each of theses organizations and you’ll see the benefits each of them offer. Missouri Resource Link is a big help if you don’t know where to start. Also, the St. Louis County Library has been a major help with market research. They have free databases to help you understand your market and target customers more in depth.
DELUX: Those are a lot of resources! You’ve won awards for your dedication and work in the industry in such a short time. Looking back 5 years ago, would you have imagined yourself in the tech world?
Tashara Earl: I’ve always had an interest in technology but never thought I would be starting a business in tech. I was in the entertainment business, “Radio Industry” working for the top Hip Hop and R&B stations in St. Louis. I was focused on climbing the corporate ladder in radio then. Now, I’m building a fast growth tech start up in my hometown of St. Louis.
“I feel like a “Black Unicorn” doing the impossible”
DELUX: That is quite a switch. Do you think women in tech is an underestimated gem?
Tashara Earl: Yes, but this is starting to change. As for many industries including entertainment, automotive, construction, etc. women have always been the minority. Today the message that rings true is women are underrepresented and the least funded when it comes to entrepreneurship. When we step into these industries there are many challenges to face and many opportunities presented to help us overcome these struggles. Today’s trend of women in tech is transcending to the overall message of women in business (entrepreneurship). This is prevalent and St. Louis has being #1 in entrepreneurship for women. We create our own lane when it’s not given to us. We break standards, burst through boundaries and make “sh*t” happen regardless of the barriers to entry. I feel like a “Black Unicorn” doing the impossible and going against all the odds of what people think I am capable of. Who would have thought of Tashara being in Tech!
DELUX: Do people often come to you for guidance and advice on how to start a business due to the different kind of resources you have and come across?
Tashara Earl: Yes! Ever since I started exposing my entrepreneurship journey to the world, people have definitely been asking for advice. Currently, I help startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs develop their business model, source funding and resources to grow their business and strategize a successful plan for them. Working with these individuals and companies is rewarding. Someone helped me get to where I am today and I want to continuously pay it forward. Some guidance, grit and a vision will take you far.
DELUX: What’s next for your company? Are there any new products that you have in the works for the next coming years?
Tashara Earl: Stay tuned and keep up with our journey. For legal IP protection I can’t disclose to much details. Words of advice when you are creating something that’s never been done before you have to stay protected by not giving out your special sauce too soon. In due time the world will see what we’ve being innovative.
DELUX: Why would you encourage the next generation to take an interest in tech?
Tashara Earl: We are in the digital age. The jobs that are being created are no longer industrial age, this means we must prepare for the future. I encourage everyone to consider having some kind of tech component to their business whether you own a beauty salon or a car shop or a marketing agency. Find something tech savvy to include in your business structure. Your business will survive in the decades to come. You do not want your business to become stagnant or obsolete because you didn’t want to adapt or change to the inevitable culture. So I challenge every business owner to incorporate some form of technology into their business model and see how your business grows.
DELUX: What advice could you give someone who wants to invent/ start a tech company?
Tashara Earl: My advice is to go for the impossible. Never limit yourself to what others think is impossible. If you have an idea that seems unattainable then you are on to something. Great inventions start as an idea and blossom into a game changing solution to an unattended problem. In fact, many great ideas come from oppression. If you are inspired to create something new or revolutionize something old take the leap of faith and make it happen. One thing I learn is to start walking even if I may not know where I am going and even if I have to walk the trail alone. Along my journey I will meet new people and learn of new helpful resources that will add to my experience. The road to success is not a straight path nor is it easy but in the end it will be well worth it, impactful and meaningful.
Tashara is thriving in the tech industry and she’s only been in it for a little over a year. She taking advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. To learn more about her, check out out Instagram page @Tashara_n_Tech