NEW YORK - Derek Peterson faced many obstacles to get to where he is today. He is the founder and CEO of Long Island-based Soter Technologies, which sells safety and security products worldwide.
Soter Technologies was founded in 2014 with a mission to keep kids safe. Peterson developed anti-bullying software for schools.
"We are selling products in 48 states and 21 countries," Peterson said.
"It's the first screening gateway of its kind. We are actually screening for multiple vitals," Peterson said. "We can actually emulate the initial doctor's visit and we scan for temperature, we scan for blood oxidation level, respiration rate and heart rate. We can do this as a person passes through our gateway within five seconds."
Peterson said there is tremendous demand for the product, with distributors across 16 countries.
"We are looking to have a great year in 2020," he said.
But it hasn't always been easy for him. He said the color of his skin was and continues to be a problem. Peterson, the son of a Jamaican immigrant, grew up in a poor, middle class.
He said he has been overlooked and has even lost jobs because of the color of his skin, to the point that some don't believe he is the CEO of a company.
"It always irks me the wrong way, when I walk into an office with one of my associates who work for me and I always get mistaken that I work for him, not that the other way around," Peterson said.
He recalled the time he found out he was being paid less than his white colleagues.
"That was a big eye-opener. How can someone doing the same exact job as me getting paid $10,000 to $20,000 more than me a year," Peterson said. "That's when I got a rude awakening."
At that moment, he decided to get out on his own and start a company. He surrounded himself with people who believed in him. That is the key, he said.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX5NY News app. Download for FREE!