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Everette Taylor on how to thrive as an entrepreneur at a startup

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If you're looking for an expert opinion on how to work at a startup and gain success as an entrepreneur in general, look no further than Everette Taylor. Taylor's an entrepreneur, a public speaker and a marketing expert. He's currently serving as the CMO of Skurt, an on-demand car mobility service. But he has a ton of experience starting his own companies and helping to bring success to everything he touches.

Check out our convo below to see his opinions on the marketing landscape, what sets millennials apart and what pushed him to start his first company.

Get to know Everette further before he presents at AfroTech this November, and read our interview with him below:

everette taylor
everette taylor
Photo: Devan Anderson

Blavity: When did you decide that entrepreneurship was for you? Was that always the kind of career you were interested in? Or did you realize it slowly?

Everette Taylor: It was definitely a journey for me, but I started fairly young. When I was in the 3rd grade, I started going to the corner store to buy gum and then resell each piece to my classmates at a premium. As I got older, I found any way to hustle and make money on my own whether it was cutting lawns or selling CDs.

Fast forward to my sophomore year of college, I had to drop out to help my family. As I was searching for jobs via LinkedIn, I noticed that I barely was getting any responses or interviews despite having 5 years of working experience at the time. I had this hunch, so I decided to do an A/B test.

I created a fake LinkedIn with an identical resume except I changed my name and put a photo of a slightly older white male. I reapplied to 10 job openings in which I did not receive a response and was contacted by 7 of them. The anger and frustration from that pushed me into just starting my first company and fully embracing entrepreneurism.

B: What qualities do you think one needs to thrive as an entrepreneur in a startup environment?

ET: A strong relentless mindset — startups aren’t as glamorous as people make it seem. A lot of ups and downs and constantly going through a range of emotions. It takes someone who will keep pushing through and can deal with adversity. A lot of long days and nights, a lot of sacrifices have to be made.

Emotional intelligence and the ability to delegate tasks is crucial. EQ helps you manage people well and bring out the best in them, but also helps when understanding consumer psychology. As an entrepreneur, you have to recognize that you can’t do everything and you’re not the best at everything. Smart delegation can help you survive the rigors and workload of startups.

Lastly, have to be able to take a scientific approach to things and be data-driven. Money is a tight and you have to be lean as a startup entrepreneur. You have to be smart about how you spend your time and money, the clock is constantly ticking. Taking an experimental and data-driven approach helps you accomplish this.

B: What do you know now that you wish you would have in the beginning of your career?

ET: The importance of learning how to code, I’m still kicking myself to this day — I didn’t take it seriously. It empowers you to be much more independent as a startup founder or someone who works in startups. If you’re reading this right now, go learn how to code now. Trust me.

B: How did you get involved with Skurt? What excites you most about this endeavor in particular?

ET: I had been watching Skurt for sometime, I met the founders last year and they struck me as eager and passionate about what they were doing. When we reconnected this year, I saw so much growth not only in the young founders, but the company itself.

What really sold me on the company was the mission to one day provide affordable access to mobility to everyone. Coming from Southside Richmond, I saw plenty of people without the means to be able to get around or people whose whole lives consisted of a few block radius.

Not only is the mission something I’m passionate about, but also the product. It’s absolutely amazing and I do believe at scale will change the world. I already see us changing people’s lives on a day-to-day.

I’ve started a few companies and worked at several startups, none of them had anywhere near the potential that Skurt has.

B: With the current digital landscape, how do you see marketing as a whole evolving? What do brands need to do to stay ahead of the curve?

ET: “Listen to the kids brooooo” - Kanye West

All jokes aside, really listen. Millennials and the younger generation are a completely different type of consumer than the older generation. Being hyper-aware of pop culture and changing trends is essential.

Creativity will always be key when it comes to marketing, but gone are the days when you can just rely on branding and marketing campaigns that aren’t data-driven. Having structure in marketing and growth is necessary now, and making sure that what you’re doing on the marketing is are pushing your KPIs (key performance indicators).

I believe a mix of strong data-driven marketing, putting an emphasis on customer success, staying culturally aware and embracing new platforms will be the keys to success.

B: What sets millennials apart when it comes to marketing to them and for them?

ET: First and foremost, optimizing your marketing and website for the mobile experience and having a strong genuine presence on social media. Millennials spend an insane amount of time on their phones, almost 90 percent of them use the internet on their phones every day and over 50 percent use social media to make spending decisions.

Attention spans for millennials are short and trends change at an instance, being well versed with tools like Google Trends and studying social media, viral content and influencers can help you stay relevant with millennial consumers.

Customer success has to be a strong initiative in marketing and making sure customer support is easily accessible on the web. Millennials, more than ever, are focusing on the sustainability and social aspects of the products they’re using.

Lastly, you just have to keep it real. Stay authentic and consistent with your branding. Millennials want transparency and to feel that they can trust your brand, not just the cheapest price.

B: What’s your biggest motivator? You’ve worked on so many incredible projects, and I’m sure your schedule and workload are jam-packed. What keeps you pushing through?

ET: I simply want to be the best at what I do. Earlier in my career, I was super motivated to prove certain people wrong and make enough money to support myself and family. Now what pushes me is the desire to be the best at what I do and use that as a platform to change the world around me.

I have major goals and a lot I want to accomplish in life. I know my time on this earth is so short, I want to make the biggest impact I can and leave a strong legacy.

People ask me how do I work such long hours and not drink coffee? (haha) I’m genuinely passionate about what I do and my future dreams.

B: Along with that, how do you unwind? What do you do to be sure you’re taking care of yourself on a daily or weekly basis?

ET: Meditation first thing in the morning, clearing my head and getting myself ready for the day. Startups are a rigorous grind, mental and emotional health are extremely important.

To unwind is as simple as getting home, putting my work down, throwing the newest Soulection mix on and vibing out. I also love spending time with the people I love, doesn’t matter what we do or where I’m at — as long as I’m with genuine people.

Also, I recently made the commitment to eating healthier, sleeping more and just living a healthier lifestyle, already feel a difference on a day-to-day.

B: What's up next for Everette Taylor and your current endeavors?

ET: Really excited for the future here at Skurt and how the product will evolve as time goes along. Also excited for all the expansion we have planned. We just launched our 4th city, Miami, and very bullish on our plans to expand to new cities and grow. That’s really my main focus at the moment, making Skurt live up to its full potential.

Also want to continue to build a diverse team and build a great culture at Skurt. I see where a lot of startups and other tech companies have failed miserably at this, I don’t want this to be the case at all at Skurt.

B: Anything else we should know?

ET: A lot of black creatives and entrepreneurs I know don’t have a car or access to affordable transportation to run errands or make longer distance trips.

So if you’re in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Miami or reading this in the future when we are in other cities, use code “BLAVITY” to use Skurt and get a free car for the day. [Of course I had to plug Skurt, I’m a marketer at the end of the day (smiles).]


For more from Everette Taylor and other game-changers, get your tickets to AfroTech! We'll see you there. 




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