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CEO Kobi Wu is changing the face of advertising with VisuWall

ROLLINGOUT.COM — Kobi Wu is the founder and CEO of VisuWall Technologies.

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By Porsha Monique

Porsha Monique

[/media-credit] Porsha Monique

Kobi Wu is the founder and CEO of VisuWall Technologies, a platform where vacant storefront windows become smart eye-level media placements, delivering a new advertising channel and metrics that matter in just a few clicks. Wu is a former music industry executive and has 18 plus years of marketing and advertising experience. She’s worked with global companies producing customer experiences, brand strategies, content and media plans for Nike, Spotify, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Ciroc Vodka, Google, JetBlue and a host of others. Before founding VisuWall, Wu was the SVP of Strategy and Creative for Combs Enterprises where she led strategy for the chairman’s portfolio of brands.

Rolling Out recently spoke with Wu to discuss VisuWall, her career path, her leadership style and much more.

How did you determine your career path?

My career path was inspired mostly by my personal interests, and these are not at all linear or singular. I get completely immersed with each subject during the various phases of my career. From architecture to the music business to the consumer experience, and now being the founder of VisuWall I have layered my career with creative insights and a diverse set of skills that give me a very unique perspective that works really well for me.

What inspires you to show up at work every day?

I love what I’ve created in VisuWall and I like to explore the new heights it will go. Working on the business every day fuels new ideas, new ways of working, and allows me to meet new people.

Please describe your role as CEO.

As CEO of VisuWall my role is to make sure the team has the tools they need to be successful (resources, answers and insights) and then get out of their way so that they can do their job. My role is to keep my eyes on the VisuWall North Star and make sure that the team keeps that vision top of mind in all that they do.

What is the mission of your organization?

VisuWall is a platform where vacant storefronts become smart eye-level media placements, delivering a new advertising channel and metrics that matter in just a few clicks. Our expertise with consumer experiences and care in bridging relationships with property owners provides transparency, efficiency and ROI with each and every placement.

Who or what motivates you and why?       

My son is a big motivator for me. He was present when I first pitched the idea at the Entrepreneurs Challenge at NYU in 2015. He was with me when I stopped to take pictures of buildings I was interested in for the model. He heard me talking to my husband about throwing in the towel and said, “Ummmm. Momma you can’t quit. We’ve worked too hard. I’ve had to stand and watch you take too many pictures of buildings for you to quit now. This is our thing!”  I appreciate that he sees me working and building something. He knows it hasn’t always been there and we have to work to keep it. So yeah, he motivates me.

What are the do’s and don’ts for young women in business?

  • Do be yourself and consider how you want to be perceived.
  • Do make sure you take your seat at the table – literally and figuratively. Show up and show up ready to be heard.
  • Do make sure you are learned and coachable – it’s a delicate balance sometimes.
  • Don’t forget to look around you and advocate for someone else you believe in whether they are senior to you, junior to you or standing next to you as a peer.
  • Don’t let someone’s opinion of your idea sway you from putting it out there. Take a pause or pivot if you must, but keep pushing.

Name three successful female role models and explain why you admire them.

I really admire women in business who will take a beat to support other women in business. By that I mean women who will listen to someone’s story, help them work through a need, and maybe even go so far as to put their weight behind someone when they believe in something. Oprah, Michelle Obama or someone else in that stratosphere, are easy to mention, but I have been moved by some less obvious names – perhaps not household names- but names that carry their own [weight] on a lot of levels.

Morgan DeBaun, Founder & CEO of Blavity: When we met, we both came to the table cold, only knowing each other’s name and company accomplishments, but nothing about each other’s personal background. [We had] no friends in common, no jobs at the same place. But she came to the table knowing where I’ve been, what I’m working on and with a vision of how we can perhaps stay connected and work together. We listened to each other, laughed a bit and after an hour I walked away with the kind of ally who will advocate for me and VisuWall and vice versa.  I also really, really enjoy Morgan’s instagram feed and appreciate how she’s living her best life.

Isa Watson, Founder & CEO Envest: Isa and I sat on a panel together at Columbia. At that point, I was pre-funded and working through what seemed like an eternity of building traction with no resources. Several months later we met for coffee and a pastry. She asked me about my investment strategy and the next thing I knew she was encouraging me to shift gears, take control and play my cards differently. She was right. I am now funded and it was all about that mind shift.

Marissa Nance, Founder, Native Tongue Communications: Marissa is family. She has worked 25+ years at OMD and recently launched a new entity called Native Tongue Communications. Because I’ve stayed at her home in LA I’ve seen Marissa’s work ethic live and in person. She rises [early] to be able to work on Eastern Standard Time and goes hard all day, making deals and helping her clients understand advertising to diverse groups of people. In between she’s taken time to share resources, make introductions (in fact Morgan was one of those introductions) and has helped me strategize for VisuWall pretty much from day one.

How do you approach business challenges?

There is always a pivot or a level up in business. Running VisuWall, the day to day challenges require a certain kind of mental preparedness that I often liken to sports. Proficiency in simple things like accounting, client management, marketing, and operations is like being able to make a free throw or a layup in basketball. I also like to know and study the players. It makes a huge difference to know who you’re playing with, how they play and what motivates them. It allows you make smarter moves. Then when you come across complex situations like investor presentations, hiring teams, managing distribution of funds, etc., all of those basic skills come into play and knowing them well allows you to level up for the dunk.

How do you evaluate talent you are hiring and what are the skill sets you’re looking for in this market place?

When I am hiring talent I am absolutely looking for knowledge of their craft, but equally a combination of independence, willingness to roll up his/her sleeves, likeability, coachability and creativity. VisuWall uniquely combines two otherwise disparate industries and so anyone who works with us needs to be dexterous enough to understand and apply insights from the other side of the marketplace and the people involved.

Describe your leadership style.

I’m a steward of the VisuWall ship. I work towards strategic goals and try to manage the processes to ladder up to those goals. I like to think I’m a casual leader because I’m rather laidback on most days, but in recent years I’ve realized it’s actually only my attire that is casual: sneakers, tee shirts and jeans; but I’m actually quite process driven.

Media Maven. Celebrity Interviewer. Entertainment Journalist. Social Influencer. Passionate Writer. Follow my journey on FB @PorshaMonique and IG @iAmPorshaMonique

This article originally appeared in Rollingout.com.

Business

Don’t Be Chick’n and Try Something Vegan!

What was originally known as Compassion Meals in Sacramento has now rebranded and blossomed into a vegan fried chick’n food truck based at Lake Merritt in Oakland, called Don’t Be Chick’n (DBC). 

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Outside of the Don’t Be Chick’n Food Truck at 277 Grand Ave. in Oakland. Photo by Isabelle Price.

What was originally known as Compassion Meals in Sacramento has now rebranded and blossomed into a vegan fried chick’n food truck based at Lake Merritt in Oakland, called Don’t Be Chick’n (DBC). 

Owned and operated by Nkoyo Adakama, the food truck that began operations July 3 serves vegan soul food based around the star theme of the truck, the vegan fried chick’n. 

While Adakama’s start in the food industry was rough due to racial attacks against her and her business in Sacramento, Don’t Be Chick’n seems to have received great traction in Oakland. Before the food truck, DBC had pop-up locations at New Parkway Theatre and Au Lounge on Broadway that were such a success that they led the way for the food truck to make its debut. 

The prices for the food are a bit on the higher end and the wait, not including the line, for the food is roughly 30 minutes. However, if you are looking to support a business owned by a Black woman and want to try some solid vegan soul food while enjoying Lake Merritt, I would recommend going to this food truck. Adakama’s food reminds me of a vegan dupe for Raising Canes.  

The truck is located at Lake Merritt, usually at 277 Grand Ave. in Oakland, generally from about 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Both the location, hours and menu may vary during the week, so it is important to follow their Instagram account for frequent updates. For any questions or catering requests, they can be emailed at contactus@dontbechickn.com. 

All information for this article was gathered from Don’t Be Chick’n Instagram and website and an Oaklandside story. 

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Business

August is National Black Business Month

August 1st kicks off National Black Business month. And although Black businesses should be supported year-round, all month long people across the country are encouraged to recognize and support Black-owned businesses. 

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Black woman owned business/Photo Credit: Isabelle Price

August 1st kicks off National Black Business month. And although Black businesses should be supported year-round, all month long people across the country are encouraged to recognize and support Black-owned businesses. 

The origins of National Black Business Month can be traced back to 2004 when Frederick E. Jordan teamed up with John William Templeton, president and executive editor of eAccess Corp., a scholarly publishing company, to have August recognized as National Black Business Month. 

Jordan and Templeton also encouraged local government officials, community leaders to address structural barriers that adversely and disproportionately impact Black-owned businesses—namely a lack of access to capital. 

“It’s important that we take this time not just to promote Black Business Month, but support Black businesses,” said Ronald Busby, president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce.

“As we reopen America, it’s important we acknowledge the wealth gap that exists between Black families and White families has grown. The real way to address the wealth gap through the creation of new black-owned businesses and broad support of those businesses. In order for there to be a Great America, there’s got to be a Great Black America,” he said.

Busby encourages readers to visit the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce’s website to learn about programming, events and resources available to Black entrepreneurs and businesses. 

Busby also acknowledged the impact the COVID-19 has had on the Black businesses, who he says were hit the hardest. According to a report by the House Committee on Small Business, between February and April 2020 Black business ownership declined more than 40%–which is noted to be the largest decline across any racial group. 

According to the United States Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy there are more than 2.6 million Black-owned businesses in the U.S. Black businesses realized a 34% uptick from 2007-2012. Black-owned firms generate an average of $150 billion dollars in annual receipts.

Firms owned by Black women continue to grow at an exponential rate. According to Forbes  businesses owned by Black businesses grew 67% from 2007 to 2012, compared to 27% for all women, and 50% from 2014 to 2019, representing the highest growth rate of any female demographic during that time frame.

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Bay Area

Nancy Lieberman Congratulates Kaplan and AASEG, continues to support efforts to Bring a WNBA team to Oakland

This week the AASEG (African American Sports and Entertainment Group) has moved forward to secure the exclusive rights to bring a WNBA team to the Oakland Coliseum.

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Nancy Lieberman/ Wikimedia Commons
This week the AASEG (African American Sports and Entertainment Group) has moved forward to secure the exclusive rights to bring a WNBA team to the Oakland Coliseum.
Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan was pleased to hear that National Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman was pleased too. Both parties had a lengthy conversation back in February, about the business of the WNBA and some of its hurdles. Kaplan told Lieberman the AASEG ( www.aasegoakland.com), and the motion she brought forward received a resounding approval (6-0-2) vote from Oakland City Council members to pursue terms to acquire the City’s 50% interest of the Coliseum Complex.
This critical vote came just three days after the Alameda County Joint Powers Authority unanimously approved a resolution to begin negotiating with the AASEG to bring a WNBA team to Oakland.  With these successive actions, the AASEG can formalize negotiations with City staff toward a Purchase and Sell Agreement for the Coliseum Complex.
Nancy Lieberman is one of professional basketball’s most celebrated female players and an American sports Icon. Nancy truly represents the theme of what is being proposed by the AASEG investment group. The council heard Ray Bobbitt, of AASEG and 97-year-old Gladys Green, present the goal of women leadership and ownership of a WNBA franchise as its primary agenda.Nancy Lieberman has an established record for being a leading advocate and supporter for social and racial equality her entire professional career. She has often credited the African American community, for supporting her and inspiring her possibilities. Now, that she is on the other side of her legend, she wants to pay it forward. Nancy and her business advocate Gary Reeves, said they plan to join a conversation with Ray Bobbitt and Rebecca Kaplan to review a potential alliance soon.

Nancy Lieberman loves the community outreach and civic leaders, who have paved the way for this opportunity. She cited the AASEG for its extensive community support. She said she is looking forward to meeting the AASEG community members and to give high praise and thanks to Rebecca Kaplan for her full-court press-style of support for AASEG, women’s sports, minority businesses, housing and job opportunities for the homeless and formerly incarcerated populations. Lieberman and Gary Reeves, her Bay area-based business advocate, want to meet and work with Gladys Green who is the inspirational leader of the East Oakland community and to congratulate Gay Cobb for the Post News Group’s extensive coverage and the recommendation that AASEG make an offer to purchase the coliseum.

In addition to working as Nancy Lieberman’s business advocate, Gary has been campaigning for support from a Who’s Who list of philanthropists and investors to support a home ownership pledge for those that need their down payments bridged to help them become home owners. During the pandemic his group, along with Lieberman, provided over 1 million dollars in free PPE and clothing for those in under-resourced areas. Oakland was also a benefactor of that program with BPL campuses and the Al Attles Foundation, ACE (Attles Center for Excellence)

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