About Me

Dontae Rayford is a technology executive living and working in Southern California. He is passionate about scaling new technologies; particularly those that can positively impact historically underrepresented communities.

Rayford currently wears a number of professional hats. He is a platform advisor for Black Operator Ventures, an Oakland, CA, seed fund started by Black tech founders seeking to invest explicitly in Black businesses. He also serves as director of category management for Indeed, focusing on Food & Beverage and several other high priority verticals. Dontae also continues to satisfy his love for teaching by serving as an adjunct instructor at Southern New Hampshire University. The accredited university offers more than 200 degrees entirely online and Dontae is often called upon to lead courses that are a part of the school’s MBA program.

Current Roles

Rayford, a Los Angeles resident, has been with Black Operator Ventures since 2022. Since its founding in 2021, the firm has invested in seven companies including WhoseYourLandlord, Inc., founded by Ofo Ezeugwu, and Mayvenn, founded by Diishan Imira. The firm provides capital, business expertise, and access to vast networks to those founders it supports.

Rayford has also been in his category management job at Indeed since 2022. He remains incredibly passionate about the ways in which his work can ultimately help more people get jobs!

Rayford started with Southern New Hampshire University in 2018. Dontae continues to enjoy advising startups. Rayford also frequently publishes articles and speaks on technology topics.

Previous Positions

Dontae has a rich work history. He worked for the State of California, focusing on issues that impacted working-class communities. He has also worked for Google, first selling ads and later in business development, where he specialized in virtual reality and immersive capture technologies.

He also has previous experience working in technology startups, including the IoT connectivity platform IFTTT, YI Technology, and TuneIn. In 2019, Dontae worked on the business development team of Yahoo!/Verizon, which was being rebuilt after an acquisition. At Verizon and Yahoo!, he first served as a director, then later became senior director of business development.

Community Service and Philanthropy

Dontae Rayford remains passionate about giving back. He is currently doing so as a board member of Soup, a nonprofit organization working for better access to home ownership and affordable rental housing in the Bay Area. The organization's solutions to the housing crisis include the creation of Accessory Dwelling Units (or backyard homes), starter homes, and community land trusts. The organization's values are solving big problems, using sound design, inspiring and motivating others, finding a different way of working, and making an impact. Rayford has served on Soup's board since 2021.

Rayford also served for three years as a mentor for Youth Business USA, an economic empowerment organization in Oakland. The organization helps youth in underserved communities start and operate their own businesses through interest-free loans, advice, and mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs.

He donates to other causes, including Sweet Farm, an organization that addresses the negative impacts of factory farming, and Fonkoze, which is seeking to break the cycle of poverty in Haiti. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dontae also partnered with several Black professionals in Los Angeles to raise money that went towards the purchase of over 20 laptops for students in LA that needed devices to enable remote learning.


Rayford has a bachelor's and master's degree in sociology from Stanford University in Palo Alto. In 2014, he completed an MBA in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial studies from the NYU Stern School of Business in New York City.

Early Life

Dontae Rayford grew up in the working-class community of Lynwood in Los Angeles County.


Rayford enjoys collecting art and listening to music when he isn't working. He is particularly interested in collecting the works of Black artists. He has also rediscovered his childhood passion for collectings sports cards.

Accolades, Endorsements, and Awards

He has received several endorsements from colleagues for his hard work, leadership, passion, and skills in decision-making, negotiating, and business development.

Justin Wong, who managed him, writes: "He is polished yet genuine and represents the very best of his company's values." He goes on to say that "I had complete trust in his decision-making - I knew that he would have the right answers to partners' questions and know when to escalate issues at the appropriate time. That said, Dontae has the intellectual horsepower to easily negotiate complex issues and agreements with partners with little to no oversight."

Alexander Tibbets, a colleague, writes, "I suspect every team Dontae builds and every company he contributes to will benefit from his infectious principles and leadership."

Eliza Jones, who managed him, writes: "He navigates organizations, aligns stakeholders, manages complex projects, and closes deals with ease. He is equally comfortable writing business plans, negotiating agreements, and collaborating on products. He is an exceptional communicator who effortlessly builds relationships across organizations."

Richard Cox, a colleague, writes, "He brings new and exciting ideas, hard work, and efficiency to the table."


Dontae Rayford Portfolio