Michael Diego’s vision to bring underrepresented content creators into the mainstream
By John Kregler, StartOut
“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I didn’t know it would happen as quickly as it did.”
Michael Diego (he/him) didn’t go to business school or have the formal experience he thought he needed to launch a startup. But like many of the founders we serve, Michael found himself at the foothill of entrepreneurship one day and took the leap forward.
Today, Michael resides in Atlanta, where he works full-time as the Co-Founder and CEO of Wise Assistant, an all-in-one digital marketing platform for content creators whose primary goal is to elevate media production.
This Pride Month, Michael spoke with us about his entry into entrepreneurship and the unique path that got him there.
Michael, could you tell us a little about why you started Wise Assistant?
I’ve always had pretty big aspirations. I studied journalism at UGA and at the time, I was fixated on movie making and video production. My first dream was to get into Hollywood, and with that degree, you get a lot of exposure to how media production evolves past mainstream entertainment. It got me excited in a few ways, and I was most interested in the ways media affects culture and society.
My thesis in life is that the next cultural platform will be driven by technology and social media. Even though I studied journalism and media, I got into tech because I realized the next solution would be digital.
What professional experience did you have before launching your startup?
For a while, I worked for Hewlett Packard, managing teams of software engineers. Through that position, I had the opportunity to travel the world, meet new people, and experience different cultures.
Eventually, I got to the point where I realized I had accomplished all I wanted to in the corporate environment. I got so far away from the end-user in corporate America, and I wanted to change that. When it became more effort to get myself motivated, I realized I needed to do something else to make myself more motivated.
What sets Wise Assistant apart, in your opinion?
The question that motivated my team and I is simple: how do we give content creators and influencers the tools to manage their entire brand or image?
We decided to address this head-on by developing a platform to help them set up their webpage and blog site, build audiences, and cultivate a strong community.
Our mission is to empower content creators by giving them complete autonomy in their production and management. We help them produce quality content so that they can focus on bigger-picture goals.
What struggles did you face during your launch?
We built most of our team during COVID, which was difficult for many entrepreneurs. The biggest thing we struggled with was managing a remote team during an isolating and depressing time. We realized early on that we had to prioritize self-care for our team and customers.
I think that the pandemic highlighted the importance of what we were doing. Content creators had more time at home, and people were craving travel and experiences we couldn’t get.
How did you discover StartOut?
When I was in Europe, I checked out StartOut’s mentor program and instantly felt drawn to the sense of community among LGBTQ+ founders and business owners. After attending a few virtual events and meeting members in the Bay Area, I knew that StartOut would be a lifelong connector. One of our lead advisors happens to be a longtime StartOut member, and we’ve had such a positive experience with them.
How does Pride Month influence or motivate your work all year?
I’m gay, and our team is almost exclusively LGBTQ+. My team and I must support the community and surround ourselves with people we can connect to. I find it beneficial and inspiring to work with people I relate to beyond work.
We’re intentional in our hiring because we want to build a team that reflects the audience we serve. I’m proud of the team we’ve built and look forward to expanding even more.
As far as celebrating Pride, we’re specifically focusing on LGBTQ+ creators now more than ever. As I said earlier, our goal is to empower influencers, especially when our creators come from a marginalized or underrepresented group. We’re proud that over 75% of our creators are females of color who usually get left out of brand deals and partnerships.
We want to bring in as many LGBTQ+ creators as we can. I’d encourage any queer creator to connect with a member of our team or me so we can provide the resources, tools, and community needed to thrive as an aspiring influencer or content creator.