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Being A Black Woman In Tech With Flavilla Fongang

If you’re struggling to get customers for your business, then Flavilla Fongang, the effervescent managing director and founder of 3 Colours Rule, an award-winning creative branding and neuromarketing agency, has written a book 99 Strategies To Get Customers

In today’s fantastic conversation, Flavilla talks about some of her favourite strategies from the book, so grab a pen and paper and take note of how to get the most out of your business. 

But Flavilla isn’t someone who has just one plate spinning at a time. She’s a serial entrepreneur. An international speaker. She’s a brand ambassador for the BBC. She hosts the Tech Brains Talk podcast providing insights and advice to tech entrepreneurs and companies. She’s also the founder of Tech London Advocates (TLA) for Black Women in Tech, where she puts black women on a pedestal. 

We discuss the thousand women that Flavilla now has in the UK in TLA, and how TLA is doing fantastic work to promote equality for women and black women in technology. 

This is a really illuminating conversation, we hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

On today’s podcast:

  • Tech brains talk
  • Being the only black woman at tech networking events
  • 99 strategies to get customers 
  • How to have a great brand
  • How to attract diverse candidates when recruiting
  • Neuro-branding and neuro-marketing

Links:

If your business is struggling to get customers, Flavilla Fongang, the effervescent managing director and founder of 3 Colours Rule, an award-winning creative branding and neuromarketing agency, has written a book, 99 Strategies To Get Customers

But Flavilla isn’t someone who has just one plate spinning at a time. She’s a serial entrepreneur. An international speaker. She’s a brand ambassador for the BBC. She hosts Tech Brains Talk, a podcast providing insights and advice to tech entrepreneurs and companies. She’s also the founder of Tech London Advocates (TLA) for Black Women in Tech, where she puts black women on a pedestal. 

So why has she written this book and why is Flavilla working to promote equality for women and black women in technology?

99 strategies to get customers 

“99 strategies to get customers was born out of frustration of the fact that the agency could not help everybody, not everybody can afford to work with an agency.”

The people who need Flavilla’s help the most are entrepreneurs who don’t have lots of spare cash. There isn’t an entrepreneur school, such a thing doesn’t exist. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to learn by yourself and learn from your mistakes. 

“And the biggest most important thing for your business to thrive is bringing customers in. You can have a great brand, you can have a great positioning, but if you don’t know how to bring customers in, then what’s the bloody point?”

So she decided to write this book to meet the huge need that the economic downturn and subsequent recession has created. 

Putting black women on a pedestal

Flavilla began 3 Colours Rule over 10 years ago. She’s worked in numerous industries, oil and gas, fashion and luxury and she realised she needed to focus on a niche if she wanted the agency to grow. And the niche that they thought was the most interesting, the most challenging and the one that required a lot of creativity was technology. 

“Technology companies are good at what they do, but they don’t know anything about branding.”

And so she entered the world of technology, and even though she’s a natural networker, she found it strange being not only the only woman in the room, but the only black woman. 

“I’m not a tech person whatsoever. I know nothing about coding. And I refused to believe that there was no woman in technology.”

So she created a place, Tech London Advocates (TLA) for Black Women in Tech, where people can have allies who understand the importance of diversity. Where they want to hear more black women speakers and where they realise that representation is so important.

“Representation is so important to inspire the young generation to think that if she can do it, so can I.”

Working with BLM

“It’s funny, because when I talk about the black woman in my group, I say, ‘don’t work with us, because you think that we need your pity, that is not the case’. We are good at what we do. We just need more opportunities that allow us to showcase how great we are.”

One issue that Flavilla has come up against time and again is people not treating Black Lives Matter as the social issue it is, rather looking at it as a trending topic. 

So what does Flavilla say to clients who want to know what they should do around the subject? 

“You cannot jump on societal issues as a trending topic, this is not Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day. You say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna do this event then go back’, it’s not like that. And we’ve seen it before Black Lives Matter with pride, people were just jumping on it, saying ‘we’re gonna do this’, but nothing really followed through.”

There’s a lot of pressure on marketers to appear to be doing things in support of Black Lives Matter movement, but if you’re wondering where to start, look inside your company. If you’re worried about offending customers by being vocal about BLM, you need to take a long hard look at your own company before you can start telling people you’re supportive of BLM. 

If you only have white, male representation on your board, says Flavilla, that’s not very diverse. If you don’t hire diversely, what’s the point in hopping on the BLM bandwagon if you’re only going to pay lip service to it? 

“I say, you need to do an internal exercise first, brand audit or company audit in terms of what are you doing internally, before you go out there, spreading those communication messages with no substance?”

Hiring diverse candidates

The commercial advantage of hiring diverse candidates is huge, says Flavilla. Working with people from different backgrounds doesn’t just give different perspectives, it challenges you completely and forces you to have difficult conversations. And you need to have challenging conversations if you want to bring about change in your company. 

“That’s why a lot of entrepreneurs will leave a country and go somewhere else and create a new business, because they’re able to see things from a different point of view and say, ‘oh, wow, they don’t think the same way as me, I can see this challenge here and so forth’.”

And that’s why it’s so difficult for companies to successfully be diverse and inclusive because we tend to hire safely, i.e. we hire people who think and look like us.

‘But when you hire somebody who’s younger or maybe older, or somebody will come from a different background, who will come with challenges, who will come with heat into conversation, that’s beautiful.”

You have to let this happen if you want to achieve something for the better.  

“That’s why people who are trying to scale a business internationally or even just nationally are trying to target different types of audiences, it’s a commercial advantage.”

How to retain employees

So how do you retain diverse employees? First off, says Flavilla, it’s so important as an employer to realise that you work for your employees, they don’t work for you. 

You have to work to understand how to keep them, especially if they’re great employees. It isn’t always about paying people more to make them stay. It’s about equipping them with the tools to help them be the best they can be at what they do. 

“People have quit big jobs, you know, some of my guests on the podcast, some they worked for Google, Facebook, they left, they could have stayed, had everything to stay, but there was something else that was missing.”

Book recommendations

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