We recently had the opportunity to connect with, Geno Miller, Co-Founder and CEO, of Shtudy, to hear more about his experience in the Granite State.
It was interesting when I first came to New Hampshire, I didn’t know what to expect at all. When I came up here, it was for football. I had the entrepreneurial bug at the time and had already started my first company around age 14. But ultimately all I saw was NFL and football – it’s really what brought me to the state.
I come from D.C. It’s a completely different environment going from the city to the rural/suburban feel of New Hampshire. I also had never been around so many white people being the only black person in the room the majority of the time. That was something that I had to figure out how to adjust to and make the most of. What that taught me is that opportunity is there if you are able to align yourself with whatever purpose you’re looking to find.
When I came here, everyone was really nice to me. Which really threw me off because people choose to do their own thing a lot of times. When people saw me walking down the street (at the University of NH) they would offer a ride to the Field House or to hop on the back of their scooter to go to Holloway Commons. It threw me for a loop, but I realized there are really good people up here. That opened my eyes to the world of opportunity that could be provided if we just have the right perspective. I changed my perspective and I continue to cultivate a positive outlook on the state. And it’s worked exponentially for me with regards to growing a company, but just my life and well-being in general.
In the last blog, you had introduced your entrepreneurial venture – Shtudy. Can you tell us a bit more about the company?
We work with Fortune 500 companies and essentially hire the best Black, Latinx, and Native American tech talent for their workforces. We’re not a staffing agency and we’re not a job board – we’re a diversity, hiring and skills-matching platform. We offer coding assessments to entry-level tech job seekers of color and train them in soft skills. Then we connect them with career opportunities at Fortune 500 companies and high growth startups who are looking to build more diverse and inclusive work cultures.
Black, Latinx and Native American folks represent less than 10% of tech jobs that are filled each year. This tells us that candidates dream of working for these companies, but those companies struggle to find them. And when they do, they still have to qualify, source and interview them. And often that results in a massive talent pool of amazing, diverse talent that they’re missing out on. That’s the problem that Shtudy is solving.
With the current times, the demand for the representation of people of color in tech roles is growing. Right now, companies are spending $8 billion dollars on workplace and inclusion diversity initiatives, plus another $600 million a year on diversity, equity and inclusion consultants just in fees alone.
We’re connecting the two parties – you can think of us as a LinkedIn recruiter for tech talent of color. We’ve signed roughly $200,000 worth of contracts with companies and are in pre-sales. We have 58 companies who have signed up for the platform. And we have roughly 1,500 or so candidates who went through the entire Shtudy process, have been vetted and are entered into our database. And all before we’ve officially launched the product.
What inspired you to begin Shtudy?
My co-founder, Rayvoughn, is someone who lives the testimony of the problem that we’re solving here. He’s a black man who comes from Brooklyn, NY and I’m a black man from the Washington, D.C. area.
I met him about five years ago. At the time, he was struggling to get noticed by recruiters at his dream companies. Long story short, we won a start-up competition at the University of NH and a few other places with which we received grant money. I used that money to move to Silicon Valley for about nine months; conducting hundreds of customer interviews, and really trying to get a feel for why this disconnect is happening in tech with both parties so desperately wanting to find each other.
I learned quickly that companies want to hire qualified tech talent of color, but they didn’t know where to find them. And when they did find them, they would still have to qualify them. And, to be frank, a lot of these companies are run by white men who may not know how to best communicate with folks coming from different backgrounds. So that’s why we founded Shtudy – our mission is really to put wealth back into communities of color and keep it there, and help people get jobs. Ultimately, that turns into us saving lives and generations of families.
You had mentioned that “entrepreneurship can be lonely.” That really struck me. What words of advice would you give to other entrepreneurs in New Hampshire?
- Don’t quit. Only quit when you give up. A couple of years ago after I left Silicon Valley, I was unsure whether or not we were going to continue the company because we ran low on finances. We didn’t close the sales that we thought we were going to close. I had bills to pay so I had to figure out what I was going to do. My flat-out refusal and stubbornness to not close is paying off dividends now.
- Find a Mentor: Find someone who’s already been through the struggles, trials and tribulations. Be passionate about your work and find someone else who matches that passion. I can’t say enough great things about them – the ability to call and text them like a friend but keeping that business dynamic which is really important. It’s nice to know that someone is there to support you emotionally. For me, coming from my background, I never had anybody I could express myself to openly that understood entrepreneurship. It’s critical to have somebody like that in your corner – who you can trust.
It’s football season so I couldn’t resist asking, as someone who came to New Hampshire with a football scholarship – what team(s) are you rooting for?
So it’s tricky right now. I’ve always been an Eagles fan and we’ve never done this bad ever in my life. I don’t recall ever, except for one year. We went six and ten and didn’t make the playoffs, but I don’t think we’ve ever started the season this bad. We’re like two in five or two, four and one or something like that right now. That’s my NFL team – that’s who I’ve always cheered for. By default, I’m going to continue cheering for them 100% – the haters gonna hate!
With regards to college, UNH in football, I mean, it’s always my heart and soul. I don’t know what to expect right now because the season is all over the place. I saw one of my former teammates post something on Instagram saying that it looks like they’ll start in the spring. They’re going to start there, so I’m looking forward to that. And definitely going to catch a couple of games, and of course, catch up with my coaches and former teammates. That’s always going to be the team I root for.