Honestly, I battled with writing an article like this for a while. As an entrepreneur, I hate pigeonholing myself into one group. I hate being defined by other people. So that's why I rarely mention the fact that I'm black online. What does it matter? My business is meant to be universal, and not necessarily to used by one section of the country or world. I believe most people could use help saving money and through Tomo, I seek to help everyone achieve more financial freedom to purchase items or to put away for the future. I also believe that saving alone is more of the same. Even revolutionary companies seeking to change the way we see money and interact with it, still focus on the individual. With Tomo, I want to connect people and use community as a means of financial empowerment and support. At it's core, Tomo is meant to connect people who have the same goals and who are invested in each other's success. I really believe this is a new perspective on money and yet Solomon says there is nothing new under the sun. And he's right. The way Tomo works is not a new concept, and is derived from what is commonly known as a "Su-su". Most people believe it's African in origin hailing from Ghana, but many other cultures have a similar way of saving money. Many West Indians today utilize this form of saving money and what I've done is tweaked it to make it safer, more secure, and added gamification. Where am I going with this?
After reading the article by J.J. McCorvey on Tristan Walker entitled The Visible Man, I was moved. Reading about Walker's experience in Silicon Valley resonated with me. There's the quote about Ferguson (When demonstrations were being held because of the death of an unarmed black teenager by Police) that echos very much what I felt at the time. "...there were levels of outrage and betrayal in my [Twitter] stream, which I wanted to retweet. But I don't want to be an 'angry black man.' I don't want to be pigeonholed to the stereotype." I did manage to do some retweeting myself, but not without this same exact thought. And this is not just about what happened in Ferguson, or necessarily something racially charged. I think often about how to represent my business as a whole. I'm black, but I don't want my business to be pigeonholed as a business only for Blacks, West-Indians, or any other specific cultural group. My goal is to make sure this app is Universal, has universal appeal, and helps people universally.
That said, I can't deny where this concept of saving money comes from, but that doesn't mean it can't be used by everyone else. At the end of the day, I feel it's best to be as transparent and authentic about one's goals and motivations. Communicating in this way doesn't deny, but rather transcends racial barriers. Transparency and authenticity have no ethnic makeup, and this is the currency I wish to do business with.