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A B2B Conversation with Michael Berhane: Championing Diversity in Tech and the Power of Podcasting

By Aaliyah Ahmed

In the ever-changing landscape of the tech industry, individuals like Michael Berhane are making a significant impact. As the CEO of POCIT (People of Color in Tech), a pioneering platform for career development and diversity in technology, and co-host of the Techish podcast, Berhane is at the forefront of empowering underrepresented communities and driving essential conversations about entrepreneurship, technology, and pop culture. In this exclusive interview, we dive into Michael Berhane's journey, insights, and vision for a more inclusive tech world.

POCIT: Nurturing Tech Careers and Diversity

Berhane's project, POCIT, is a platform dedicated to helping people of colour excel in their tech careers. The platform's mission is clear: to provide a supportive and informative environment for professionals from diverse backgrounds. POCIT not only positively influenced the lives of individuals but also impacted corporate policies. Companies started recognising the importance of diversifying their executive ranks and embracing more inclusive practices.

POCIT's business model evolved from its beginnings as a blog, to the launch of a newsletter, followed by a job board, and enterprise packages that provided recruitment and media services. Berhane's experience taught him to filter out time-wasters when hiring, relying on project-based work, and to trust his instincts, even when met with scepticism.

Berhane's venture, POCIT, grew without external investments or VC funding. He preferred to remain independent, free from the obligations of reporting to investors, so he could focus on profits and prompt payments to his team. His unwavering commitment to the platform's mission drove him forward. This conversation also delved into the evolution of Berhane's approach to his goals. He emphasised the importance of taking things year by year, given the unpredictability of significant events such as COVID and the George Floyd incident, which significantly impacted him.

Berhane's entrepreneurial journey wasn't without challenges. POCIT started as a solo bootstrap venture, but in just two years, it grew into a team of seven full-time, fully paid employees. This rapid success, however, came with its share of difficulties. The pandemic threatened to shut down the platform, a stark reminder of the unpredictability of entrepreneurship.

Berhane's journey toward entrepreneurship didn't happen overnight. While he initially pursued a traditional career path, he soon found himself captivated by entrepreneurship, starting an e-commerce business right after university. Though it didn't flourish as expected, it was a valuable learning experience. His journey also led him to learn coding, empowering him to build his projects from the ground up.

Techish Podcast: A Blend of Tech and Pop Culture

Techish, a podcast co-hosted by Berhane, is a unique blend of tech and pop culture. Over its five years of existence, it has evolved from a casual conversation between friends into a more structured and feedback-driven business. The podcast explores entrepreneurship, tech news, and pop culture, and it is accompanied by an upcoming live show.

One significant change in recent years has been the shift toward a more visual format. YouTube has become the primary medium for reaching the audience, reflecting the growing importance of visuals in the podcasting world.

Berhane expressed excitement about the potential for monetising content while staying authentic to the audience, inspired by creators like Mr. Beast and Ali Abdaal. Techish's early start and its unique blend of topics and perspectives gave it a competitive edge, but Berhane acknowledged that the podcast space might be reaching its capacity.

In the podcast's production, Berhane is heavily involved; taking a hands-on approach to clip-cutting. He highlighted the value of intellectual property and media collaboration, stressing that podcasting fosters deeper connections with the audience compared to some other forms of media.

To increase a podcaster’s audience, Berhane suggested that video podcasts are more appealing than audio podcasts, emphasising the importance of a visual component.

Key Takeaways and Tips

During the interview, Berhane shared valuable insights and tips from both of his career worlds:

For Employers Seeking Diverse Talent:

1. Expand outreach to universities with diverse populations.

2. Invest in platforms like POCIT to directly connect with diverse talent.

3. Understand the unique value that diversity brings to your team.

For Podcasters:

1. Prioritise visual content and short-form video clips.

2. Ensure crisp audio quality.

3. Focus on professionalisation, monetisation, and sustainability, and don't hesitate to start early.

The common thread throughout Michael Berhane's journey and insights is his commitment to doing what nobody else is, fostering diversity, and creating meaningful connections with his audience. His journey serves as an inspiration for those looking to make a positive impact in the tech industry and beyond.

Michael's podcast, Techish, has an upcoming live show to celebrate the fifth year into their journey. Get tickets below and use code 'blockstobags' for 10% off!


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