Whether you are deep in the throes of entrepreneurship or casually looking at the lives of entrepreneurs you admire most – hearing the truth about what it takes to build a business never hurts. Too often we see the outcome without understanding the sacrifices made, the checks stretched behind the scenes and the time it took to find success.
Enter Sherrell Dorsey, founder and CEO of The Plug Daily, a data-driven community and site that “contextualizes the Black innovation economy.” Dorsey’s expertise in tech has been honed within just about every major tech space you can think of. And her deep love of her culture and community pushed her to launch her company which was first a newsletter.
“My goal was to center the stories, voices, and even just analysis of how we’re seeing these black innovators. These black innovators who were taking ownership of their own kinds of companies within the tech space, and even black technologists,” Dorsey reminisces about the genesis of The Plug on a recent episode of UnBossed Podcast.
With a tech background that spans Microsoft, Uber, and Google Fiber, Dorsey knows what it takes to make an impact in the tech space and her desire to put Black innovators on the map is no accident.
“When you’re working for startups, you’re constantly having to stay on top of the news in tech, or you’ll miss something. You’ll completely miss something. You better know who sold, who raised money, all of those kinds of things. And so my challenge honestly, was that I wasn’t seeing deep coverage of what black people were doing in technology.”
Dorsey’s confidence in her abilities was honed from childhood as a dance instructor and into her teen and college years, cutting her business and entrepreneurial teeth in the fashion and tech industries.
Now, Sherrell helms a company that goes the extra mile to make sure the Black tech businesses, founders, and innovators see just as much spotlight as their non-Black counterparts, an undertaking that was a no-brainer for the go-getter.
“It started off just as a labor of love. A lot of my friends would hit me up like, “Oh, have you heard of this? Or which conferences did I go to?” And so they were like, “Oh, you’re the plug. You know who everyone is, you know what everyone’s doing.” And so I was like, “Huh, maybe I can synthesize this and just get a daily newsletter Monday through Friday, getting up right before work and pulling it together.” I had no intention in creating anything else, but as I mentioned, that work that I did with Uber, with data and drills, like, “Hey, maybe I can try to create something that you’d read in the Wall Street Journal, or you would read it in Financial Times, but it centers black and brown people.”
With an ever-expanding reach, Dorsey keeps it completely real when asked about stability as an entrepreneur.
“For many of us, we’re not given and as you mentioned earlier, I was self-funded. So I took money, some of my money from my 401(k), I had an auntie gave me 200 bucks and that was my funding. That was my funding initially,” Sherrell tells Unbossed host, Marquita Harris.
Sacrifices are par for the course when building a thriving business for the culture and community.
“Right now what I pay myself or my company is really based on, what’s my bare minimum, and where do I compensate with my speaking engagements, consulting gigs, additional freelance writing. Those kinds of things make up for it.”
To hear Sherrell’s full episode of UnBossed, head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to audio. And don’t forget to follow ESSENCE Podcast Network on Instagram!
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