Technologist and successful entrepreneur Angela Benton was surprised to find her portrait online thanks to Google Alerts. She was in her senior year and a member of the Middlebrook Boys & Girls Club, Livvy Mount is an artist, and she participated in the UScellular Black History Month art contest held in Eastern Tennessee.
Benton got in touch and offered to travel to Knoxville to meet other members of the Middlebrook Boys and Girls Club and the Legal Teen Center on February 28.
Members of the Boys & Girls Club have created original portraits of influential black icons in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Finalists were chosen for their creativity, quality, thematic clarity, and overall impression. Voting for the $250 prize winner lasted until March 1st.
Born in 1981, Benton is a pioneer of diversity and one of the most important African-Americans in the tech industry, yet it’s surprising that he’s still considered an icon.
“Talking to children is very heartwarming and satisfying,” she said. “I was in Atlanta yesterday and the kids were at the wax museum and someone was painting me. It was weird in a good way.
“As an entrepreneur, you start something, but it’s just an idea. is all you could wish for, so humble.
In an informal Q&A session with members of the Boys and Girls Club, Benton said: “It’s one of those things that you feel intuitive about. A lot of things you started out in your career you didn’t know were going to work, but you had an intuition to figure it out later.” ”
Benton remembered attending Oak Ridge Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia and applying for admission to Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology.
“I didn’t get in, but I made my way,” she told the preteen. I have been working hard to make my dream come true. “
Students were particularly interested in hearing about Benton’s travels, including his trip to Malawi. She set up her micro-her fund to provide solar power to her 10 villages in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world. A DIY kit was distributed with installation and repair instructions.
An innovative entrepreneur, she has traveled to Paris to shoot artwork for her book, visited places such as Tokyo, and even stayed in Shenzhen, China’s Silicon Valley. told me.
Livvy Mount was sitting next to her best friend Bailey Helms after school when Benton saw her portrait and learned she was a finalist in the competition.
“I was really excited, surprised and nervous,” said the young artist, who spent two days trying to capture the nose and eyes. “I chose to draw her because she is an entrepreneur who provides opportunities for other people. I loved that she went to Africa. My friend Zeke moved to South Africa. I was really nervous meeting her, but she’s a really nice person.”
In 2011, Benton founded NewMe, a startup accelerator that has helped hundreds of minority entrepreneurs raise more than $47 million in venture capital funding.
Before that, at age 26, he started Black Web 2.0, frustrated by efforts to find information about what black people were doing in tech. The platform has become a space for leading professionals to take up and discuss black culture and technology.
Benton is a sought-after tech expert and conversation starter about minority and female diversity in the industry.
Commenting on her decision to sell NewME in December 2018, Benton said: Be happy with the impact I have made, and be happy that someone else has gotten ahead of me. “
After battling cancer for a year and focusing on her health, the mother of three started another company called Streamlytics.
Benton recognizes the speed at which technology changes, tackling data ownership and transforming how businesses access and leverage cookie-free, first-party consumer data, ultimately helping consumers We help the tech industry take control of the data it collects.
“My kids know they have data, but we didn’t know that, having grown up with the early days of the internet,” Benton said. “There has been a social shift. Younger generations know they need to own their data.”