Courtne Smith has launched three companies since leaving Drake’s management team.
Courtesy of NewNew
After spending more than a decade on rapper Drake’s management team, Toronto native Courtne Smith is creating new opportunities for connection.
Smith is the founder and CEO of NewNew, a social app that allows users to collaborate and connect based on their shared love of video (think TikTok meets Facebook). This isn’t Smith’s first go at entrepreneurship. She and her business partner Filip Diarra founded hair product line Tharen in 2015 and giveaway game Suprize in 2018. But NewNew marks Smith’s debut in the tech industry, a competitive market where women founders are few and far between.
If Smith is anything, though, it’s adaptable. Since launching NewNew earlier this year, she became one of fewer than 20 Black female founders in the history of tech to build an eight-figure, venture backed company. “Technology allows you to touch everyone around the world, I wanted to find a different way to be creative,” she says. “So when I started brainstorming businesses earlier on, maybe like five, six years ago, I realized that I would always keep going back to the latest technology.”
NewNew focuses on people and how they share their content.
Courtesy Of NewNew
For(bes) The Culture spoke to Smith about her transition from working on Drake’s management team to becoming an entrepreneur, the journey to launching NewNew and the roadblocks she encountered along the way.
For(bes) The Culture: What have you learned from being on Drake’s management team and what were some of the biggest struggles pivoting?
Smith: I gained insight into the unique ways that entrepreneurs and brands think and operate. Being able to see that firsthand, behind the scenes, was really a big catalyst in me wanting to create something on my own. Primarily, something that would have a really big impact in the entertainment and music industry. In a world of creativity where there’s endless possibilities in entertainment, I saw various opportunities where I could integrate my own ideas. During that time, it really fostered my passion and my strength in creating and executing on large scale projects. I parlayed those skills into tech, so the transition was pretty natural.
For(bes) The Culture: What makes NewNew different from other apps?
Smith: There’s a huge interest right now around people creating original content, especially in the social space. Most apps, whether it’s new ones or the OGs, are constantly looking to turn out the next big content creator and their focus up until this point has been predominantly pushing users to create their own original content.
That’s leaving a huge untapped market focusing more on people and how they share that content. Also, the bonds and the relationships that they can form by doing so. There’s a lot of power in being a person who can influence other people just based on content that’s liked and shared. NewNew allows users to get real-time feedback and influence other people by asking content-based questions that aren’t necessarily rooted in users having to create original content. Users and their friends can collaborate by voting on the various polls and having conversations based on content that already exists. We’re seeing the app allow its users to share things and create bonds in new ways.
For(bes) The Culture: You’re not new to the entrepreneurial game. How did these previous experiences help you and how has this time been different?
Smith: I’ve learned so much over my journey. The big thing, though, and this kind of applies across all businesses, is to not get married to your own ideas. Founders frequently set out to build or provide something that they’re passionate about. The problem with that is, that idea or that product you want to build or that service you want to provide might not actually work in the real world.
As a founder and as an entrepreneur, you need to be able to know when it’s time to disconnect from that idea and take a step back and figure out what really needs to be changed in order for the product to work or for the service to work. I’ve had to rely on my ability to be agile and adapt to change. Those are things that keep you on your toes. Ultimately, you just need to be able to put your own wants aside and create or provide a product or service that people want.
For(bes) The Culture: Describe the transition from an executive-level position to founding multiple startups.
Smith: It’s like transitioning from being a passenger to a driver. When you’re a founder, there’s nobody else to make the final decision, but you. There’s really nobody to lean on when things get rough and there are no days off. It’s a non-stop, 24/7 pressure that exists. I live for that environment and I strive under that kind of sentiment, but it’s a very stark difference between working for someone versus doing something on your own.
For(bes) The Culture: What were the benefits or challenges of developing and releasing the app during the height of the pandemic?
Smith: We used that time to retarget our core users and develop new features to streamline the platform. We’re all kind of adapting to the world with Covid and our new normal. In terms of our platform, we’ve definitely seen changes and user usage. People are spending a lot more time on the app and we’ve seen it spread faster. The goal during this time is to still consistently come out with new features and always make sure that people can communicate with each other in innovative ways. The pandemic allotted our team an opportunity to build the app out and connect with our users to answer their questions.
For(bes) The Culture: In what ways are you paving the way for other Black women in tech?
Smith: I’m very aware that there’s an extremely limited number of women who look like me in tech. I’m also very aware that there’s a next generation of young Black female tech founders that are out there and possibly watching. [For] myself and other Black female tech founders, encouraging and uplifting the next generation of Black girls to reach their dreams is our responsibility.
The pressure is on for us to be the best and to give them the inspiration and the confidence that they need to create their own mark on the world.
Source by www.forbes.com