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Inspirational Black Men In Tech: Delmond Newton of Groopview On The Five Things You Need To Know In Order To Create A Very Successful Tech Company

An Interview With Jamie Hemmings

The first and foremost piece of advice would be to do your research. Not every idea you have is made to be a product or service. Look into the market you’re trying to enter and see if you have a solution or product that is not out there yet. It’s so important to know the ins-and-outs of the industry before getting involved in it.

As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Black Men In Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Delmond Newton.

Delmond Newton is the founder and CEO of Groopview — the first social, group viewing technology platform built for 5G. With over 20 years of experience, Newton is a serial entrepreneur who has founded or funded over six companies in various industry sectors. Newton’s background is rooted in finance and marketing, an expertise that he brings to others as a business advisor, and to his own entrepreneurial endeavors. In his role Newton lays out and executes the Groopview strategy and vision and also oversees all new product features and platform expansion for Groopview. Groopview is a unique software company that specializes in bringing people together through its flagship virtual co-viewing platform. The company has developed a patent pending synchronized private social viewing tool that allows you to engage in video content with friends and/or colleagues even when you are not together physically, all session participants see the same frame at the same time in real time. For more information, please visit www.groopview.com.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always had a love for technology and always have envisioned myself as a serial entrepreneur. One day, I was babysitting my nieces and they were trying to watch their TV and use FaceTime at the same time to communicate with friends. They weren’t able to do it efficiently and became really frustrated. That’s when the ‘ah-ha’ moment hit. If I can create a video synchronization system that allows users to see the same thing at the same time and do all the social functions of video chat, audio chat, texting and emojis that would be an amazing experience. I gathered my smartest engineers, relayed my vision and we went to town building out the technology. This is how Groopview was initially started back in 2017.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

When we were first getting started, every media company we went to showcase our technology to all said, ‘no, we don’t think people will watch content this way.’ Then, the pandemic hit and all of the sudden, we were correct. The fact that Gen-Z already viewed content and did things virtually combined with the social distancing measures onset by the pandemic just opened the eyes of the industry to see the need we took notice of early on.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest and silliest mistake I made starting out was when I raised pre-seed capital at too low of a valuation. I then had to bring in a third-party company to do a proper valuation. The lesson here is the cap table is extremely important and to keep your eyes on it at all times.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

For Groopview, the hard times were running out of capital. As a Black entrepreneur, you realize very quickly that it’s a lot harder for us to raise capital. When you look at the overall investment landscape and activity taking place, the reality is that the traditional venture capital firms need to actually do more investing in Black-owned start-ups rather just make empty promises to the press. What makes me push through is my motivation and determination to never be denied. I am focused on making my ventures successful at all costs. I believe my drive and will is my fighting power and will help transform the industry.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I believe it all starts with my father, Dr. Gene Newton. He started out as a police officer, got injured and used his disability time and money to put himself through college and medical school, soon becoming a prominent doctor and entrepreneur. As I looked back on his achievements in life, I didn’t want his hard work to go in vain so I wanted to achieve even greater heights than he has. I also credit my success to my entire team. I hired executives that I believe are all smarter than I am. What I possess is knowledge of a little bit of everything that they do.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.” ~Winston Churchill

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” ~Frederick Douglass

United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?

I think the United States is a country that was built on inequality and racism. This is why slavery is older than the country itself. When you have something that is just blatantly not right, it will inevitably come to a head and explode. What we are seeing now is that there are more people in this country that are fed up with racism and inequality than there are people comfortable with oppression. I believe we are at a critical crossroads in our country where law makers, industry leaders and the general public have a chance to right a very serious wrong and shape the future of our world.

Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

We live in a very diverse world and technology has made the world a lot larger but much more connected. If your team does not mirror various cultures, then you will not know how to speak to those cultures through your product offerings. We must all remember there is only one race, and that’s the human race. But there are many cultures within the human race and they all have different beliefs, dislikes and likes, and values. It’s important to have a diverse executive team that reflects the diversity in the U.S, and in the world. If achieved, then businesses will be able to better cater to the needs of the world and create all-inclusive solutions.

Let’s zoom out a bit and talk in more broad terms. It’s hard to be satisfied with the status quo regarding Black Men in Tech leadership. What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

I believe this country has put a lot of focus on the top tech companies but within those companies, there are a lot of non-Black people leading the charge. Those owners and CEOs are highlighted and portrayed to world as what the leaders of tech companies should look like. The contribution that Black people have made to technology is unprecedented but not highlighted like it should be. So, we as Black executives are then left with a choice: try to move up the latter at the current tech companies or build our own tech companies to show the world the many talents we possess. You must know the road will be doubly hard, but if you have the will to succeed then no one can stop you.

We’d now love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?

The pain point that we are addressing is the ability to virtually communicate while streaming video content through a singular platform. Sure, there are other video conferencing apps that allow you to view video, but they do not offer secure and clear connection. On the B2B front, our software development kit (SDK) allows cable providers and streaming services to incorporate Groopview into their software in one quick, easy plug in unlike other co-viewing applications that require numerous plug-ins.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Groopview stands out because of its unique patent pending technology, along with our very seasoned management team in place to execute our mission and goals. Our software has the ability to connect people globally while simultaneously co-viewing a sporting event, movie or tv show, or just about any type of video content. We also have a dual-camera feature, patent pending, that allows users to show face while showing their surroundings. In real estate specifically, this is a key solution to a problem brought about COVID-19 and the rapid migration the industry is seeing. With homeowners not wanting foot traffic in their houses to limit exposure or people moving to new cities for either tax reason or a new way of life, QuickShow allows agents to show homes while chatting with potential buyers face-to-face. There’s nothing on the market quite like it. Plus, all of our products are made and influencers by their core users. QuickShow for example, it is designed by real estate agents for real estate agents.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, that would be QuickShow, which is our latest endeavor within Groopview. QuickShow’s unique technology will help real estate agents, customer service technicians, physicians and responders to communicate better and more efficiently with our patented dual-camera technology. COVID has really brought about a need for virtual services across all industries. With the dual-camera and 5G capabilities, agents, customer service technicians, physicians and responders can speak face-to-face with clients while being able to showcase a home, a technical issue, or an emergency situation on their back camera with crystal clear connectivity.

What would you advise to another tech leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth or sales and “restart their engines”?

The key is to never stop innovating. Everyday, the world continues to turn and trends change with it. The tech space, especially is evolving by the second with new needs being met with new solutions. Never stop innovating, never stop thinking of your next idea or improvement.

Do you have any advice about how companies can create very high performing sales teams?

It’s important to build a sales team that loves what they do and believes in what they’re selling. Secondly, you need a team that is competitive by nature. Lastly, always be sure to incentivize your sales team to succeed, whether that be through goal-oriented prizes or raises or another creative way. This lets them know you support them and want to see them succeed.

In your specific industry what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?

The most effective method for us has been relationship marketing and really using out team’s connections to our advantage. We’re able to leverage our professional relationships to move our company forward through strategic partnerships and speaking with industry professionals about the problems that they have, which we have a solution for. A great example would be our partnership with Verizon, which came into fruition from a member on our advisory board. We came to Verizon with a solution for virtual real estate showings. They loved what Groopview could bring to the table and brought in Samsung, which resulted in the creation of a new platform, QuickShow, that will help real estate agents prosper in today’s competitor landscape, which will be launching in the near future.

Based on your experience, can you share 3 or 4 strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?

  • The first and most crucial would be leveraging social media as an educational tool to showcase how our platform works. Whether posting FAQs or speaking with the customers directly, we’re able to provide assistance should any Groopview user run into a problem.
  • The second strategy would be to actually lean on your customers and potential customers for feedback and suggestions. What we’ve learned is that the customer will give us ideas into some features that may be missing from our platform that would be highly beneficial, and could very well be a feature or an idea that we didn’t think of.
  • The third would be creating a feedback loop with our in-user and customers to where we actually pick a product out and allow them to give feedback to see what we can add or takeaway from the app. With QuickShow for example, we tested the application out with real estate agents first to get their insights and how we can make the app better for them. We plan to do the same with our upcoming customer service solutions.

As you likely know, this HBR article demonstrates that studies have shown that retaining customers can be far more lucrative than finding new ones. Do you use any specific initiatives to limit customer attrition or customer churn? Can you share some of your advice from your experience about how to limit customer churn?

For us, really listening to what the customers want and need through their feedback has been crucial to limiting customer churn. If you make them feel heard and part of the creation process, they’re less likely to leave or stop using our service. The overall goal is to really involve the customer in the creation of the platform because at the end of the day, Groopview is made for them and with them in mind. With QuickShow, we worked closely with Keller Williams and their agents to make sure that the app met every single need they had for virtual real estate showings.

Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful tech company? Please share a story or an example for each.

The first and foremost piece of advice would be to do your research. Not every idea you have is made to be a product or service. Look into the market you’re trying to enter and see if you have a solution or product that is not out there yet. It’s so important to know the ins-and-outs of the industry before getting involved in it.

The second would be to plan out your finances. How are you going to logistically get your product or service to market? How are you going to build your minimum viable product (MVP)? What can you show to clients and investors? You cannot start this type of work without some capital and a solid plan as to how you will use it to push your business forward.

The third would be teamwork and creating a team of individuals that have wisdom and industry experience. Try to build your team with people that know more that you, that are even smarter than you, and that have more experience in the particular industry you’re trying to be involved in.

The fourth thing future entrepreneurs should know is to be innovative overall. If you have an idea, focus on that but always be thinking about new ideas and improvements of your product and service for the future. Not every idea is a one-trick pony and in an industry like tech and mobile apps, new ideas come in by the minute. You have to know where you want to be five years from now and always look to create a roadmap for future plans.

Finally, put up your blinders like a racehorse. A lot of companies fail because they don’t shut out what’s going on around them. Like a racehorse, if you’re running around and trying to win but you’re looking around at your competition, you’ll get distracted. Keep focus on your idea and your mission, and don’t waver when a potential competitor enters the market. Keep pushing forward, keep believing in your idea and your mission.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would say in general, ‘love’ as a movement would bring about the most good. I think this world harnesses so much hate. There’s racial hate, there’s political party hate — all types of hate from every direction. I think that if there was a movement around love and respect for another — no matter where people come from — it would be amazing. Anytime you log onto social media or your turn on the TV, you’re encouraged to hate. I think if that movement takes shape, that energy of love and respect for yourself and others would really change the world.”

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 😊

The highest on my list would be Neil deGrasse Tyson — he would be my number one. For one, I’m a huge fan of space and the greater universe, and movies and shows that explore that like Star Trek and Star Wars. I love all that stuff. I’m always captivated when he speaks on his hypotheses on where we came from and the power of our universe. If I sat down with him to just get his viewpoint on the world and our overall energy, that would be absolutely life changing.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

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Jamie Hemmings

Jamie Hemmings

Social Impact Entrepreneur & Tech Enthusiast