Web Content Manager
He goes by the handle @barryaharris. Barry Harris is one of Greensboro’s entrepreneurs, who is working to change the way people see Greensboro through social media. This writer had the chance to sit and chat with Barry about his journey, the importance of your online presence and ways college students can add value to their social media.
So, tell me a little about you. What’s your story?
“Well I was born and raised in Greensboro. I attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island and then went to the Naval Academy where I studied economics. In summer 2015, I came back to Greensboro because I reached a point where it didn’t seem like the academy was the right place for me anymore and engineering wasn’t exactly my strength; everyone takes engineering at the academy on top of their major. December came, and I started CityRunner, an on-demand delivery service. After doing some further research and looking for co-founders, I connected with BrownBoxWorks, a mobile app and web development company started by A&T students. We worked together on the operations and development of the idea, but it became clear we’d need a lot more resources and capital than we had — Insurance, legal, investors and other messy red tape — fast forward to a few months later, we started working on an app idea called Nak’d. The concept [of the app is] basically being the non-superficial version of Tinder. You match based on interests instead of looks, and you don’t see the match right away. You have to talk to your match and get to know them for 24 hours first. At the end of the 24 hours you decide if you want to be friends, more than friends, or match with someone else. As a way to promote BrownBoxWorks and Nak’d, I jumped on Periscope one night. It was my first time on Periscope, but I had people tell me their worst ideas so I could give it back to them as a business idea. One thousand people watched and that’s when I knew social media and marketing was my calling.”
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“Learning. It’s like going to college but faster. You’re getting paid to learn”
How have your personal hobbies and interests influenced your work?
“My hobbies have become my work; which is a curse and a blessing because you are always working but it doesn’t feel like work”
What are some of the challenges you face in Greensboro?
“One thing is for sure: Greensboro doesn’t foster tech or startups. Greensboro is focused on textiles and furniture and manufacturing still. There isn’t much of support system in terms of new, young entrepreneurs. I was recently asked to be a part of an initiative with the Innovation Council here in Greensboro to paint the narrative of the city; the objective being to not only make graduates more enthusiastic about staying in the city, but also attracting new talent from all over the country to be a part of the reinvention of Greensboro. Knowing this, I am confident that the city is moving forward and will continue moving forward.”
Why is one’s personal brand online important?
“It goes back to being a real person. Every day you are selling yourself. I’m selling myself, and you’re selling yourself right now. If you brand in the right way, there’s a huge marketplace for potential clients and networking opportunities. I have connections all over the world because of my brand online. As the saying goes, your network is your net-worth. It’s all about building your personal network.”
What are some ways college students can develop their personal brand as young professionals?
“How do you want others to see you as a brand? Or better yet, ask yourself how do you want people not to think of you? Do you want people to think of smoking and drinking when they think of your brand, or do you want them to think of someone who’s capable and doing great things in the world? Staying true and authentic is also very important both in person and online. Be yourself and people will be drawn to you.”
Who is your biggest role model and why?
“Nelson Mandela. He’s always just been a role model for me even at a young age. How many people would stay in a prison for decades simply because of their beliefs and convictions? Not many. He persevered and knew what he wanted for the people of South Africa and never gave up. That’s the same kind of legacy that I’d like to leave as well.”
What’s the purpose of your business?
“My goal and the reason why I do what I do, is because I want to see Greensboro be the Silicon Valley of the East Coast. So many people say there are no opportunities here, but aren’t putting in the work to change that. There will never be opportunities or change if everyone moves away.”
What’s your favorite social media platform?
“Instagram. It’s a very versatile app and it’s one of those platforms that’s going to be around for years to come. It’s not just social media anymore, now it’s a photo album of your life, it’s a market place, and it’s staying on top of all the social media trends; videos, live streaming, stories, you name it.”