Tech Entrepreneur Andre Swanston Is Connecticut’s First Black Majority Owner Of A Pro Sports Team – All Black Business News
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Tech Entrepreneur Andre Swanston Is Connecticut’s First Black Majority Owner Of A Pro Sports Team

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Andre Swanston is one of the few Black men to sell a tech company for nine figures.

Swanston founded Tru Optik in 2013. He was driven to have a solid work ethic by his father, who ventured from the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis to the United States and worked several jobs to support his family, according to Forbes.

The younger Swanston obtained a finance degree from La Salle University and a business degree from the University of Connecticut between 1999 and 2004. He would then secure a job as a financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial and later take on a post at JPMorgan Chase & Co. as vice president of investments between 2010 and 2012, per his LinkedIn.

During the early 2000s, he owned nightclubs and restaurants, he shared in a Q&A with TransUnion. He also invested in local advertising to bring more exposure to his businesses. It was then that Swanston made a discovery that would prompt his pivot to the tech industry full time as the founder of Tru Optik. The system is “an integrated data management, campaign activation, audience measurement, and marketing attribution platform” for over-the-top (OTT) media services and connected TV. It’s designed to support media companies, advertisers, and publishers, says his LinkedIn.

“I noticed over those years the efficacy of my ad budget was shifting almost entirely to newer channels like streaming radio and digital,” Swanston told TransUnion. “This was even before the days of connected TV, but I picked up on the fact that this was a larger trend toward IP television and streaming TV. From my experience at JPMorgan Chase, I knew an idea like this had the teeth to attract venture capital. Plus, I just knew it was what I wanted to do. That was the most important piece of the puzzle because there’s a certain level of craziness a founder has to have to believe in yourself and an idea so much you’re willing to take the risks necessary to make it happen. For me, that meant dropping everything to start Tru Optik.”

Sustaining the company required many sacrifices. At times, accepting minimum earnings from the venture to keep the company afloat. Additionally, gaining the visibility of venture capitalists during the company’s early days would lead to many closed doors.

“My fear of embarrassment helped me battle through constant rejection from premier venture capital funds as a young Black CEO who didn’t attend an Ivy League university or work at a major tech company. Most of the VC funds wouldn’t even meet with me,” he said, per Fortune. “Instead of letting these failures defeat me, I used them as fuel to prove the VC funds wrong. I secured angel investors, smaller venture capital funds, state investment vehicles, and strategic corporate investors.”

Tru Optik would become the first company to create a patented household graph, which is helpful for advertisers to target individuals within a household, Skydeo reports. Tru Optik’s household graph encompasses over 80 million homes in the United States and is used by thousands of brands, a press release mentions.

Wha’s more, its data management platform witnesses over 600% growth each year.

In 2020, Tru Optik was acquired by TransUnion. The company had previously joined Tru Optik’s $10 million seed round, according to Adweek. Swanston says it was a nine-figure sale.

“We were powering billions and billions of dollars in advertising across streaming. And so over that time we gained relationships, and then after selling the company, we gained credibility because wow these people built something from nothing, and then made it something,”  Swanston told WFSB-3 in Bridgeport, CT.

Today, he is focused on new ventures, serving as chairman and CEO of Swanston Labs and as the first Black majority owner of a pro sports team in Bridgeport, the outlet notes.

Swanston is now spearheading an MLS Next Pro franchise, CT United. He also plans to juggle additional ventures including building a stadium, hotel, affordable housing, and free youth academy.





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