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By Allen Collins, Black Tech Street
The rebirth of Black Wall Street is happening with technology as the catalytic factor. With the current wave of Black entrepreneurs of technology-based companies relocating to Tulsa, revival is the perfect summation.
On the second installment of the Revival Series, the Black Tech entrepreneur company Black Tech Street and The Black Wall Street Times collectively highlight Tulsa native and boomerang, Founder & CEO of STACE, Shaun Simon. As a no-fee point of sale commerce platform, STACE is a company primed and ready to lift others as it rises to the top.
Giver, conduit, high achiever, grinder, community-based and family man. These are words that describe Shaun Simon, and these pieces stand out as what has shaped Simon as an entrepreneur.
“I’m always seeking ways to provide opportunities for others and someone that is going to strive to the top tier,” said Simon. “I was talking to one friend of mine the other day and an opportunity came up for another friend of mine. He wasn’t in the room but I felt like I was representing him for (a business proposition) that was best fit for him.
Community-based entrepreneurship was a cornerstone of the original Black Wall Street, and that mindset is no different with the Black Tech Street business owners.
“Community to me is a lifeline of individuals leveraging something to help each other, built on genuine relationships,” said Simon. “If we can connect and commune on something that’s tangible and of mutual interest for all parties involved, that’s the ultimate measure of community; how well can we get along and continue to progress with each other.”
According to the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, Oklahoma small businesses contain 51.1 percent of all Oklahoma employees. With STACE’s main customers targeted as small businesses, Shaun Simon sees lots of potential for collaborations.
“We want to provide opportunities for underserved small businesses. Tulsa is an epicenter of small businesses and here it really thrives with lots of owner operators and mom and pop shops,” Simon said.
“We want to provide them with all of the opportunities of big box retailers. Solutions from point of sale to inventory management to customer relationship management and loyalty rewards.”
STACE builds in the spirit of Black Wall Street
STACE specializes in commerce-based and services-based industries, such as online stores, beauty care businesses and restaurants to help digitize the experience and ensure efficiency.
For many Black entrepreneurs, barriers of entry often stymie otherwise great ideas and keep people from ever taking their business to the next level.
“I grew up in the Black Wall Street area. I went to Roosevelt elementary and there, they talked about it at a young age. As a kid and even as a teen, I couldn’t understand the magnitude of what Black Wall Street was,” said Simon. “The transition into Black Tech Street to me means hope and not only hope for me but the next generation that comes after me, that is a different step and gateway to the future for Black and Brown kids. Because we didn’t have a lot of chances growing up, it was either sports or nothing.
For Black Tech Street to be the focal point, Simon said she wants to help build it up with tech.
“And that’s not just software or AI, it’s all kinds of different avenues and we can galvanize that and build something sustainable. We have a responsibility as individuals and entrepreneurs, to take that personal because and make that (spirit of Black Wall Street) defensible because the internet is endless.”
Supporting the community
With rapid growth industries comes uncertainty and speculation. Oftentimes a city and its citizens identifying with core industry help shape a personalized mindset for economic future and vision cast for the full matriculation of a career cycle. Technology career stigmas can be daunting, but like most businesses, technology companies have space for every skill set.
“There’s a lot of opportunities that aren’t tech skill based,” said Simon. “From customer support, onboarding, sales and there’s really talented and smart individuals here for that.”
Transplant founders, locally born founders and boomerang founders alike have a similar approach to economically empowering the workforce when it comes to the technology industry.
“For me, It’s not just “I’ve built a remote or virtual company in Tulsa, in Black Wall Street because I’m from here,” said Simon. “There’s also an accountability and responsibility I’ve heard from founders I’ve connected with. There’s an accountability for us to allocate funds and hire individuals that are from this community North Tulsa, East Tulsa, West Tulsa. It doesn’t always have to be software development. “
For instance a $70,000 salary is a lot for an individual in North Tulsa, that can really change the ecosystem. These are the individuals that go to our stores and restaurants, put their kids in schools here and pay taxes. That’s real economic development for Tulsa.”
Building a legacy on top of a legacy
After working in successful companies in field service management in Dallas and building the necessary industry skill set, Simon saw the chance to venture out with the support and encouragement of former colleagues.
Working within Service Fusion really gave the understanding that payments and transactions run this space. Originally we tried to do it in the cannabis space and were doing ok but made a quick pivot from Service Ganja to STACE because I wanted to win bigger and opened it up to the whole commerce space and targeting small to medium sized businesses that I have the most passion and experience, with quick service restaurants, boutique retail and field service management
“We’re trying to build a legacy company where we become the acquirer, the PE firm (private equity firm) that buys businesses and helps them grow and establish different verticals. There’s a different type of energy because I remember what it looked like and felt like.”
As a born and raised Black Tulsa tech entrepreneur who has already had success and is currently creating a new venture in Tulsa, Shaun Simon is a shining example of the kind of person that Black Tech Street is striving to regularly produce in our community. When we see more Shaun Simons, the rebirth of Black Wall Street as Black Tech Street will truly come to fruition.
Allen Collins is a proud North Tulsa native and a Booker T. Washington High School graduate. He is the Admin and Communications Manager with Black Tech Street and is a former freelance writer and nonprofit professional.