Yonas Beshawred: the Black Founder Who Worked Twice as Hard to Scale in Silicon Valley
Yonas Beshawred is the CEO of StackShare and a slew of other businesses. Since its launch in 2014, his company, StackShare, has grown from strength to strength, allowing software engineers and IT organisations to share their tools and how they use them.
From what started as a side project on a WordPress blog, StackShare has raised $7 million and reached 1 million developers, engineers, CTOs, VPEs, architects, and founders.
Beshawred’s journey has been nothing short of rocky, but the results speaks for itself. Besides his work with StackShare, the 34-year-old co-founded Harambeans, a network of over 250 African entrepreneurs who, according to him, have collectively created over 3,000 jobs and raised over $400 million for their businesses.
He also assisted in the formation of Ethiopians in Tech and the Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team (ECRT), a forum for experts from all over the world to work and collaborate on COVID-19 responses in Ethiopia.
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After graduate school, with a degree in business, Beshawred worked for one of the world’s largest consulting firms, Accenture, for 18 months. He has always been interested in business and international development, but not necessarily tech.
However, his role at Accenture made him fond of tech by seeing how large companies made IT and large-scale technology decisions.
He worked in the IT strategy group, which gave him the opportunity to help big companies figure out a new data centre and its different components.
That was one of the things that inspired StackShare. Yonas who is also a voracious book reader, credit a book for his inspiration,
“I actually read this book called Founders at work by Jessica Livingston and I was just really inspired by what I read and after that book, I decided I had to get into software,” he said.
On this premise, he started studying human-computer interaction at the University of Maryland, just to get deeper into software development.
Building StackShare came with many hurdles, including building teams and getting funding.
To combat the issue of not having a co-founder, Yonas dealt with it by surrounding himself with people that were more skilled than him. This trait has also largely helped him when hiring or looking for a team.
His background was another challenge for him while building StackShare. He was a black founder from the East Coast without a tech background or an Ivy League pedigree. This made it hard for him to raise funds.
To counter this, Yonas made sure to prepare and out-perform in gaining traction, traffic and users for investors to analyse.
“I truly believed that if my business was compelling, and I had traction, then they would invest, so I kept telling myself, ‘Traction trumps all,’” Beshawred said.
The growth of StackShare was quick as the company entered Batch 15 of 500 Startups flagship accelerator in 2015, before eventually becoming the go-to place to debate technologies in 2020.
Today StackShare, a social network-like platform that allows developers and companies to rank open source, SaaS technology and developer tools, now boasts 1 million developers and CTOs with a recognition from Forbes as a Cloud 100 Rising Star.
For Yonas, this is a big win because there have been a few developer communities on the internet that have scaled to a million members.
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