CyberSynchs CEO Inspires Audience at Audible Tech Talk
By Alan Skontra
Amos Winbush III, the founder of New York-based data transfer company CyberSynchs, shared his compelling story at Audible’s latest Tech Talk in Newark on Monday, August 20, 2012.
Tech Talks @ Audible is a monthly event held at Audible headquarters in conjunction with BrickCity Tech Meetup. The monthly event features ample peer networking time as well as a guest speaker.
Winbush said he had spent much of the summer of 2008 uploading contacts into his new iPhone, but the phone crashed. He tried fixing it but nothing worked. Both Apple and AT&T; told him his data was lost forever.
Winbush was upset. This was a big problem. He figured that other people must have had it too. Then he resolved to prevent it from ever happening again.
To that end, Winbush put an ad on Craigslist, found the right app developer, and began creating a solution on a shoestring budget. His company soon grew into a multi-million dollar, international leader in data synchronization and storage. For less than $40 a year, subscribers can transfer their data seamlessly from smart phones to tablets to laptops and even to digital photo frames.
Winbush’s story of how he started CyberSynchs is about the second big leap he took in this life. Four years before he began his company, he left college and moved from his home and family in Shreveport, Louisiana to come to New York and become a musician. He had $1,500 and didn’t know anyone. His aspirational parents were worried about him.
Winbush spent several months sleeping on his agent’s couch and surviving on ramen noodles. He was so poor that he couldn’t afford subway tickets and had to walk 80 blocks and back to his recording studio.
“It was, by far, the most challenging time I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Winbush said.
Eventually Winbush made the right connections for his music career, even getting to party with moguls like Russell Simmons. He had also gotten married and was starting a family. That’s exactly when his phone crashed and changed the trajectory of his life.
Winbush spoke to the audience at the Tech Talk, beyond the nuts and bolts of starting a business, to inspire them to work hard and take risks. He admitted he was nervous about starting CyberSynchs. He was worried about providing for his family. He didn’t know anything about technology. But Winbush said, no matter what, he refused to submit to those fears.
“I wasn’t afraid of things I didn’t know about,” Winbush said. “Once you acknowledge your fears, you will stop doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”
Winbush said he navigated a steep learning curve by knowing how to find the right people to help him. Many of the people who joined CyberSynchs in the early days are still there, including CTO Tyler Thackray, the freelance developer who answered Winbush’s Craigslist ad. “I never go above my pay grade,” Winbush said. “I knew I could build a team and find something suited for them in the growth process.”
Winbush said that when he started he worked long hours, relied on keeping overhead low, convinced his team to believe in the idea enough to defer their salaries and negotiated partnerships with larger companies.
He got his hometown newspaper to write an article about the local kid who started a tech company in New York, and the attention immediately netted CyberSynchs its first 13,000 subscribers.
As CyberSynchs has grown, several other media companies and groups have recognized Winbush. He has been named to Inc. Magazine’s 30-Under-30 America’s Coolest Young Entrepreneurs list for 2010, Black Enterprise’s Innovator of the Year for 2010, and Network Journal’s 40-Under-40 list for 2011. He also received the Project Enterprise Inspiration Award for 2011.
With his reputation as an entrepreneur, Winbush has begun advising several members of Congress, including Senator Mark Warner of Virginia and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, on the federal government’s need to promote technology. Besides providing advice, he has also given money. He recently met with the President of Ghana pledging to invest in tech startups there and he will also appear on a forthcoming ABC show about philanthropy.
Winbush said that he finds his philanthropy just as satisfying as the work he put into building CyberSynchs. “Are you changing someone’s life or are you just trying to get rich?” he asked the audience. “I’m more focused on work-life balance, on keeping my wife happy, spending time with my parents, and making sure my employees are happy.”
Now 28 years old, Winbush said he is also eager to watch his unlikely company grow, especially internationally. “I don’t know where CyberSynchs is headed, but that’s the exciting part,” he said.