Episode 13: Hustle and Flow – A Black Man’s Remarkable Journey in Tech

Get your notebooks ready today b/c there will definitely be some knowledge dropped here today on the Tech Lowdown. Today’s guest brings a unique perspective on life and leadership to the show. While on the surface his resume reads like many others in the tech world, a strong undergraduate education in computer science and an MBA from a top school, the story of this A-A entrepreneur’s grind is unique and fascinating.
Arif Gursel is currently the Director of Product for Point Inside, provider of a SaaS platform at the forefront of the intersection of digital engagement and physical interaction in retail. Previously he spent over 11 years at Microsoft before founding his own digital agency and a number of other adventures along the way.
– He devotes significant time to the Community especially through his work with Floodgate Academy which we’ll touch on. He’s also the father of 2 beautiful young girls.
– Arif, welcome to the show – What’s the Lowdown?
Interview (12 mins)
– You’ve got an impressive resume & list of accomplishments. As you so aptly put it, your “resume is starting to need an index and an ISBN number”, but can you give us an overview with a few of the top level highlights of your professional background?
– The challenges with diversity in tech are quite well known to anyone paying attention, but I’m more interested in your preparation and your process – where did your interest in technology originate and what was your process for positioning yourself for success?
– You have called yourself a “hustler” – what does that mean to you and how have you maintained that perspective within a massive corporate environment like Microsoft?
– Why did you leave Microsoft and then what were some of the early challenges you faced with your agency Vibeheavy? How did you overcome them?
– You mentioned that you have both self-funded ventures and that you’ve also gone out to raise capital in the past? What was your experience raising outside capital?
The Real Lowdown Segment (5 mins)
– You left school to pursue an opportunity with Microsoft – how did you know that that was the right decision for you at that time?
– What are the barriers that you’ve seen that are preventing more African-Americans from not just being in tech but being successful in tech?
– Tell us about Floodgate Academy and your vision for it?
– Finally, you’ve done a lot but you’re also still a young man, what’s your vision for your future in this space?
Close (1:00)
– Arif – this was brilliant. Thank you so much for your time. Please tell our listeners how they can find out more about you and Floodgate Academy?
– If you liked the show, please download all the episodes and leave us a 5 star rating on iTunes!
– You can find show notes at techlowdownshow.com and follow me on Twitter at cjones2002.

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