We will start with the owner of Kloud.co, Hank Williams.
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NAME: Hank Williams
HOMETOWN: New York, NY
BUSINESSES: Kloudco — a tool for searching, sharing and organizing all of your personal information in the “cloud.”
Unlike many of the Black tech entrepreneurs seeking their Silicon Valley fortune in CNN’s Black in America 4, Hank Williams has been around the block before.
During the late 1990s, Williams founded a web startup called Clickradio — a pre-Pandora music service that garnered $40 million in funding before the dot.com bubble burst.
A decade later, Williams is continuing his tech career with Kloudco, which he describes as “like a Google search engine for your information universe. You can explore your e-mails, tweets, documents, contacts, calendar and more.”
The idea of spending a summer with other Black entrepreneurs in a “startup house” in Silicon Valley came earlier this year from discussions at the South by Southwest tech conference with friend and fellow techie Wayne Sutton. Sutton then co-founded the NewMe Accelerator with partner Angela Benton, and within months, the vision was a reality.
One of the most compelling moments in the CNN documentary is Williams’ fraught reaction to Indian-American entrepreneur and tech academic Vivek Wadhwa’s blithe observation that African-American entrepreneurs don’t help each other, and furthermore Wadhwa’s counsel to the stunned group of Black entrepreneurs that they, as he did, “get a white guy to be your front man” to ward off the racial prejudices of white venture capitalists.
Williams calls Wadhwa a “wonderful person” with “no guile,” and although Williams challenged Wadhwa’s seeming acquiescence to the racist status-quo, he believes Wadhwa’s opinions about the lack of Black business solidarity are “true more often than I would like to see.” Williams was moved in part by Wadhwa to give a sermon of unity to his housemates, which thereafter dramatically altered the dynamic of the group.
In retrospect, Williams saw the NewMe startup house grow from a “useful, cost-effective exercise” into something “way better than I could have ever imagined.”