Here’s How Emogi’s CEO Is Challenging Diversity and Redefining Conversations in the Startup Community



During #SMWNYC Montaque shared his story of overcoming adversity and skepticism in order to achieve success and disrupt an industry as an outsider.


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Jordan Schultz, Insider and Analyst Correspondent for ESPN spoke to CEO and Founder of Emogi, Travis Montaque about how he raised over $20m and broke down business barriers.

Montaque was born and raised in South Florida by Jamaican parents. He is first to admit that naturally, he is far from the first or second round pick of people you’d envisage growing up to running a company that receives over a billion messages on social each day.

At 15-years-old, Montaque started working at Chick-fil-A Corporate. By the time he turned 19, he had been promoted five times, was managing 120 people and helping them with their south floor expansion. This resulted in him earning a scholarship to the University of Miami.

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He started working in finance but turned his head to data. His ethos was and still is to endeavor ceaselessly. The concentration of attention and investment goes to top tier universities, but Montaque was driven and the President of the University of Miami saw that and invited him to attend the Clinton Global Initiative in New York where he was a speaker. There, he met his first institutional investor who now sits on his board.

Creating & maintaining a successful business

There was a domino respect effect but getting to the point where he was in a position of power was not easier for someone who had come from nothing. Montaque packed his backs and moved to New York from his hometown – a place he describes as a lacking eco-system. He wanted to break through the minorities and raise capital – a task easier to achieve when you’re in the right room, taking meetings and surrounded by the people you want to be standing beside. Montaque was relentless.

Montaque underlines the significant components he incorporates in order to create and maintain a successful and growing business:

    1. Make sure you have access to talented individuals. Specialists and competence. The best in their retrospective fields.
    2. Immerse yourself in important networks to gain access to potential customers and allies.
    3. A general philosophy is not to aim to be the smartest guy in the room. You are on a collective mission.
    4. Ensure you have diversity of thought. A global business needs global representation. Share visions with your team members that prompts them to think about the things they’ve done differently. Crazy amount of creativity equates to the best solutions.
    5. Strive to make sure everyone in your team is ‘tucked in.’ Meaning they not only understand the vision but understand their individual purpose in the vision

Diversity is a strength, not a weakness.

The main takeaway Montaque stresses is that diversity is a strength, not a weakness for the future of company growth and pushing social and business boundaries. “If you have a group of people who look very homogenized, then they will approach the problem the same way. That’s problematic for any organization. We need to have people with unique perspectives from different places.”

As for Montaque’s own company? “We are not building a company, we are building an institution; they last a very long time,” he finishes.

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