Tanya Sam made a splash on this 11th season of The Real Housewives of Atlantapartly due to her feud with cast-mate Nene Leakes. 

However, Sam is much more than just a reality star. She sat down with uInterview exclusively to discuss how her career has evolved.

“A lot of the Housewives are working on some really amazing businesses, and I think I bring in a different angle, which I think has been great exposure,” said Sam. “So I work in software and technology, I run an innovation and startup hub in Atlanta, so I spend my time helping other entrepreneurs and early stage founders build scalable technology companies.”

Sam noted that she is very grateful for the opportunity to help so many aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women, minorities and LGBT people, who are curious about making drastic changes in their areas of expertise.

“Often times, it’s hard for them to access capital and for them to get those first corporate innovation partners to pilot their technology or their business lines, so we work really hard to help them scale that and make those connections so that they can be successful,” Sam added.

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Sam also commented on the case involving Elizabeth Holmes, a 35-year-old woman who famously founded blood-testing startup Theranos in 2003. Theranos eventually grew to become a major corporation that based its tests on a single droop of blood for each sample. However, Holmes  — who reportedly dreamed of improving life expectancy, among other things — was charged last year with wire fraud and multiple other charges.

Sam said she believes this case was a classic example of a female entrepreneur’s ambitions being “sensationalized” by the media because of the scarcity of women who are given venture capital funding to start businesses.

“If you look at the statistics now, it’s less than 10 percent of women that get venture capital funding,” she said.

“That, I think, is unfortunately an example of where a lot of the checks and balances just disappeared with fervent hope for her success,” Sam added of the Homes case.

Sam also lamented the fact that since the Theranos scandal, many ideas for potential tech and business startups have failed to come to fruition. However, she seemed to remain optimistic that the growing fear of more fraudulent and ill-planned business plans might come crashing down.

Full interview transcript below:

Q: What’s your career outside of the show?

A: It’s funny because I think this is something that comes to a surprise to a lot of people. They’re like “Atlanta Housewives, you’re in technology and software, it kind of seems a little bit different.” But one thing about all the Housewives programs is a lot of the housewives are working on some really amazing businesses and I think I just bring it a different angle, which I think has been great exposure, so I work in software and technology. I run an innovation and start-up hub in Atlanta, so I spend my time helping other entrepreneurs, early-stage founders, build scalable technology companies.

So I think one of the greatest gifts of coming on this show is reaching so many masses of women and people of color in particular that have asked, “How do I build a business? How did you transition from nursing to technology?” So being able to showcase that and reach out and reach a lot more people to encourage them to build businesses has been an incredible part of being on this show. So, I also run a lot of technology accelerators in the incubators programs. The last one I just finished was six months, we had thirty early-stage people of color, women, LGBT entrepreneurs, helping them build and scale their businesses. Often time, it’s hard for them to access capital, it’s hard for them to get those first corporate innovation partners to pilot their technology or their business on. We work
really hard to help them scale that and make those connections so that they can be successful. It’s been awesome and I can’t tell you how much it means to me when people reach out and they’re just like “thank you for showing me this on the show, this is really interesting to me, this is something that I hadn’t previously seen on the show and we really appreciate it.”

Q: What do you think about the Elizabeth Holmes case?

A: I feel like with Theranos it’s a greats example, but the video just came out on Netflix, so now everyone’s talking about it again. There’s been a book about it, I’ve been fascinated. So I have kind of follow this along because initially, Elizabeth Holmes was kind of a unicorn in the technology area, and this is part of what I think sensationalized it so much because there aren’t a lot of women who get VC funding and can build companies like this. You look at the statistics now, it’s less than 10% of women that get venture capital funding, so when Elizabeth hit the scene with this really revolutionary idea for technology and healthcare, basically she was promising to help us live longer, you know if you really caught on to what her whole dream was with the drop of a little stick of blood.

So, people want to believe in that, people I think are woke and really trying to help women succeed. That, I think unfortunately is an example where a lot ofthe checks and balances just disappeared with reverent hope for her success. And it seems almost impossible, if you look at how this whole series of investors and people that just got behind her and got on board continued to push her. I almost think, to be honest with you, it’s a little bit unfortunate because now I think people are very weary. I look at a lot of biotech deals, and you know, we send it out to other people in our syndicate and they’re like “Oh is this another Theranos” and that’s awful. So, hopefully that’ll diminish, and the hype will die away from that, we can get back to just building big companies and seeing more women founders succeed and win.