Everette grew up on the south side of Richmond, Virginia with his mother and sister, Broad Rock to be exact. He explained, "Growing up was interesting because what I had in my household and what I saw on the streets was completely different. What I saw on the streets was like chaos, but when I came into my house I had a strong black mother, a strong grandmother, people who really showed me what it meant to be an upstanding gentlemen." To have a contrast of rough neighborhoods and then a supportive household was certainly integral to who Everette has become. He now exudes a sense of balance and ambition that has accelerated his journey in his new neighborhood, the tech industry.
Everette and I sat down at his apartment in Downtown Los Angeles. The tall windows added great lighting for the video coverage. Everette attended Virginia Tech where he studied Business Information Technology. At the young age of 26, Everette has built an impressive resume within the Tech Industry. Most recently, serving as Chief Marketing Officer for the e-commerce company, Sticker Mule. Founding another company, MilliSense and helping start another, Growth Hackers. As Everette has ascended, he's made it a priority to help others succeed. So much so that he's been featured in Forbes, Huffinginton Post, and Black Enterprise for his marketing prowess and advocacy of diversity in Silicon Valley. "From the beginning, I was interested in helping and supporting my family and friends. That meant everything to me," he told me. Everette is the first person in his family to go to college and he continues to create a legacy that will last for generations to come. I am proud to present a tech phenom with a passion for growth in this week's Entrepreneur Spotlight.
Johnny: Tell me more about the businesses you've started?
Everette: I started my own marketing firm MilliSense which helps tech companies and startups grow their businesses through digital marketing tactics. I’ve also led the e-commerce company Sticker Mule as their Chief Marketing Officer. Really an awesome opportunity to serve as a C-Level exec at such an early age, just turned 26. To get that experience and oversee all marketing operations, and to learn about financials and the bigger picture of running a business was a blessing.
Before that I helped start GrowthHackers.com and led marketing there. Growth Hackers is a site and community for marketers and product people. Anybody who is trying to start or grow a business, it's a great community. I've done digital marketing for Author Neil Strauss, and I partner with a guy from Richmond named Brandian Ross, who plays in the NFL. He has a clothing line called Unity over Self, created to raise money for children with Autism. I’ve worked with several tech companies, I’ve had my hand in a lot of things and I try to give back
Johnny: How did you get started in the Tech Industry?
Everette: Long story short I was doing marketing for Neil Strauss and other digital stuff for him. A guy by the name of Sean Ellis, who is the CEO of Qualaroo, arguably the most famous marketer in the startup industry. He helped grow companies like DropBox, LogMeIn, Eventbrite, and Uproar into billion dollar companies. He saw my past success and saw my potential and at 23 years old I came to come run marketing for his software company. So that was huge for me! It allowed me to get a lot of experience. Fail fast, learn fast. It put me into the foray of tech startups. Having his stamp of approval really helped me grow my profile and my audience.
Johnny: Tell me about your advocacy for diversity in Silicon Valley.
Everette: You have two type of people within the work force. You have those people whose happiness comes from personal success and, ya know, just climbing that later. It doesn't really matter what's happening on the outside, right? For me, I just don't find personal happiness out of just my personal success if I'm not making a change. Because I'm not where I am without people laying down the tracks for me. It's important to me that I fight for those coming up, especially in the diversity space. And it's not just race, diversity includes women too!
I know there are different struggles that we all have to go through and it's tough! It's tough everywhere, but it's very tough in the tech industry. These companies hire from the same schools; the Stanford's, the MIT's. They hire from the same companies; The Facebook, Google, Twitter. It really doesn't provide us a lane to get in. You could have went to a Howard University, one of the best schools out there, but Facebook's not recruiting over there. It's just about using my position to leverage opportunities for others.
Johnny: What is your Passion and when did you know?
Everette: That's a tough question. I feel like I have two passions. One passion is definitely marketing and growing companies. That was realized at an early age when I was selling gum or putting up signs to mow lawns. I realized that I really enjoyed the customer acquisition of that process. I enjoyed that more than the actual labor.
My other passion is definitely helping people. And it's not limited to the black race or minorities. It's not limited to anybody! Anyone that I can help or lend out a helping hand, it just puts me in a better place. Like everyday I'm talking to new people as a mentor. What I'm trying to do is find a way where I can align my passion for marketing and bring in my passion for helping people. I'm already formulating ideas in my head.
Johnny: What inspires you to succeed?
Everette: I used to always think it was money. Helping my family, getting that financial success, "becoming somebody." Blah blah blah cliche. Then as I started to become more successful and financially got to a better place, I was still hungry. I was like, "Well what's driving me?" Then I realized that there's nothing that really pushes me. I'm just wired that way. I can't just get up and not do anything. Some people seek solace in retirement, not having to work no more. To me, that sounds BORING. Right now, what pushes me to succeed is just being wired that way. There aren't necessarily any outside factors that make me want to be successful.
Johnny: What would you say has been the biggest challenge in your career?
Everette: My youth. Just who I am and stepping up that ladder has been tough, because people try to continuously put you in a box. "Oh, you're black," "Oh, you're only this old," "You didn't come from this school or work for this company" Put you in a box. For me, just being who I am, has been a challenge. I've actually had a big company say, "Hey we want you but if we take you, you can't speak out and say the things that you say on social media." Not that they're reckless tweets, but this company had a lot of red tape and just want you to "fit." I can't sacrifice who I am to move up. The struggle of staying true to who I am and still being able to succeed. Finding that balance is a challenge.
Johnny: What frustrates you the most about today's culture?
Everette: It seems that everybody wants to be "somebody" and they use technology and social media to try to be bigger than they really are, or be somebody they really aren't. A friend of mine was telling me about a photoshop app to lighten skin & hair, make waists skinnier, and butts bigger, it's just crazy! I feel like social media has so many people trying to put up this front instead of just working hard to become somebody worth following. It's all a choice, but don't let social media get in the way of progress in your real life.
Johnny: What would you say is the #1 factor to your success?
Everette: Relentless work ethic. There's a lot of people that are a lot smarter than me and a lot more talented than me, but man, I will work my ass off. If I really want something, there's no one that is gonna outwork me. There were years where I was averaging like three hours of sleep a night. I just had to make it. I absolutely hate to fail. I know it's inevitable, but I do everything in my power not to.
Johnny: What advice do you have for young people wanting to break into the tech industry?
Everette: Well first, hit me up! @Everette on Twitter and @Everette on Instagram. Send me a message and I'll do my best to put you in touch with the right people. But really, it's getting outside of your comfort zone and learning things outside of the classroom. The things you learn in school are not the same as the things you're going to learn in the tech industry. There is a lot of self learning. Experience is huge! Strive to work within the industry while you're in college. Also, build a brand for yourself, put a website together. A lot of these companies want you to send them your blog as part of your resume.
Interested in learning more or connecting with Everette?
Instagram x Twitter: @Everette