Anthony Frasier, 25, grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Newark, New Jersey. After getting into a bit of trouble in his teens, he later dropped out of a local college. The start of Frasier’s story doesn’t sound like one that could have a happy ending. Yet, through determination and hard work, he has become a formidable player in the online gaming world by founding a gaming site for urban youth called The Koalition.
The Koalition is a site filled with blog posts reviewing video games, game platforms, mixtapes and more. It has grown to be a popular site for gamers online, winning the 2009 Black Weblog Award for best technology site or blog.
The site was inspired by Frasier’s love of video games during a period in high school during which he described himself as a “bum,” spending hours playing games and commenting online about how to improve on playing them.
After dropping out of a county college, Frasier decided to start on a site of his own. Using the skills he learned at an internship with web developers, as well as teaching himself the basics, Frasier built a web site and created a business.
“I got together with a few friends who were also into games, and we figured out a way to make ourselves relevant in the game industry by giving our perspective, giving our opinions. And we were all from urban backgrounds, so we figured we could take that angle and change the game industry,” Frasier said.
Anthony Frasier is making history … as a rising star in Silicon Valley. He was featured on CNN’s Black In America 4: The New Promised Land — Silicon Valley, which documented his journey through the rigorous NewMe Accelorator program, a technology training opportunity for minorities interested in entrepreneurship.
What’s next for Anthony?
Fraiser is working on growing the user base for Playd, an app he created that he described to CNN as, “Foursquare for gamers: You can ‘check in’ when you’re playing a game on a console or your phone, and rate how much you like it. You can also discuss and share with your friends.” Frasier would also like to eventually work behind the scenes in the film industry.
In his own words …
“I always had a positive outlook, and to me I always thought me being a different color was to my advantage,” Frasier said, referring to being African-American in Silicon Valley. “At least when I walk into a room they’ll know who I am. Just flip it — business is all about being creative. Turn a negative into a positive. Don’t worry about all those stereotypes, because if you do, when you walk into that room it’s going to show, and you don’t want to walk in there with that on your shoulders. You want to walk in there with a clean slate and do your thing.”
On black history …
“In order to know where we’re going we have to know where we’ve been,” Frasier said. “Don’t rely on school to teach you about black history. There’s a lot of black entrepreneurs out there, past and present, who are doing some great things, and not just in music, sports or entertainment. If we could use those people as our heroes instead of the typical, you never know, you could get some ideas on what you can do.”
A little-known fact about diversity in Silicon Valley …
As CNN reported, of all the new Internet companies backed with venture capital in 2010, just 1 percent of the companies’ founders were black, while 87 percent were white, according to a report from the research firm CB Insights.
For more information about The Koalition, click here.
THE GRIO’S Q & A WITH ANTHONY FRASIER
Q: What are you hoping to do in the near future?
A: Just continuing to work on Playd and to continue learning. I hope to explore more startup ideas in 2012. I also started a meetup group called BrickCity Tech as a way to connect and grow the tech community in the greater Newark area.
Q: What’s a little fact about you that many people don’t know?
A: Most people don’t know that I like to make music. Me and my brother used to spend hours crate digging and sampling records to make beats. Sometimes people are quite surprised that I can carry on a conversation about frame rate issues in the latest video game, then talk about techniques to use on Propellerheads Reason.
Q: What’s your favorite quote?
A: “I don’t think outside of the box. If I did, that would presume I was already in one” -Michael V. Roberts
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?
A: It started with me wanting a better life for myself. Then it eventually transformed into me wanting a better life for everyone around me. Everyday I think about making an impact some way, somehow doing what I love to do.
Q: Who are/were your mentors?
A: My grandfather was a big part of my life. He always taught me and my brothers that hard work pays off. When it came to stepping out as an entrepreneur, I had to seek mentors mentally. It may sound crazy but I would have conversations in my mind with people such as Henry Ford, Jay-Z, Will Smith, Bill Gates, the list goes on. What would they do? Would they give up? Would they make a certain decision?
Q: What advice would you give to anyone who’s craving to achieve their
A: Don’t be scared to take a risk. Put the time in that it takes to make your dreams come true. We live in the age of information, so use Google and Amazon to find out what you want to know. A guy once told me that preparation plus opportunity equals luck. So prepare yourself and stay that way.