Black Founders Fund
Black Founders Fund
Across the US, there are amazing Black startup founders who are building great companies yet are locked out of access to the funding that is critical to their success.
The $5M Google for Startups Black Founders Fund provides non-dilutive cash awards to Black led startups that have participated in our programs or have been nominated by our partner community or a previous recipient. Selected founders receive up to $100,000 in capital along with Google Cloud credits, Google.org Ads grants, and hands-on support to help their startup grow.
Acclinate is a digital heath company diversifying clinical trials.Del Smith
Del Smith, co-founder and CEO of Acclinate, is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about using business to make a positive societal impact. He has extensive experience in healthcare, IT, higher education, and government. Del’s experience as a Black founder has fueled his interest in what it takes for minority-based firms to reach high levels of success. His related research has appeared in several leading publications. Del earned his Ph.D. in Management from the University of Alabama.
AfriBlocks is a SaaS-enabled freelance marketplace.Roger Roman
Roger Roman is the co-founder of AfriBlocks, a SaaS-enabled freelance marketplace. AfriBlocks connects talented freelancers from Africa with gigs across the globe.
Prior to launching AfriBlocks, he served as the Managing Partner of the award-winning agency Push Consulting & Marketing. He is also the founding board member of STEM advocacy organization Rythm Labs, where he has created and curated resources to increase participation in the global tech economy throughout the African diaspora.
In addition to being a founder, Roger is also an active angel investor and VC scout; these roles allow him to support resilient founders and innovative startups. He is a recipient of the James P. Lyke African American Male Image Award and was named one of the 100 Modern Men of Distinction by Black Enterprise Magazine.
He credits his upbringing on the westside of Chicago and his time as an undergraduate at Howard University with sparking his passion for entrepreneurship and public service.
BestFit addresses basic needs like housing and food insecurity for students who cannot afford to stay in college, even with financial aid.Asha Owens
Asha Owens (Co-Founder & CEO of BestFit)
Asha Owens is an award-winning product designer and software engineer committed to building equitable, community-centered technology. During 2021, Asha has served as a Civic Innovation Fellow, a Squad Leader in /dev/color, and a founder in Google for Startups’ Founders Academy. She is a former Columbia University Design Leader, 4.0 Schools Fellow, and alum of Techstars Atlanta (Social Impact ‘20).
Throughout her career, Asha has utilized her interdisciplinary background in Neuroscience (B.S., Brown University) and Instructional Technology & Media (M.A., Teachers College - Columbia University) to build innovative products and lead fast-paced, high-impact teams. For her work, she has been awarded Palantir’s Women in Engineering Scholarship, recognized as one of CTA’s 2020 Faces of Innovation, and named one of 28 Emerging & Inspirational Black Leaders in Edtech by LearnLaunch.
At BestFit, Asha has led the team to design and build EdTech tools that received national recognition. In 2020, BestFit was awarded the Rise Prize (Early Stage)—a prize for innovative solutions supporting the postsecondary success of student parents. Additionally, Asha’s design of BestFit’s other product—a college search tool—won the ideation stage of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & NYU’s “Algorithm for Change” competition.
Billseye offers the first and only real time mobile call billing solution.Alcide Honore
Alcide Honoré is the CEO and Cofounder of Billseye, a mobile billing and call monetization platform that was born from his experiences as a licensed attorney in private practice for over a dozen years.
The idea for Billseye emerged from a conversation between Alcide and his brother and Cofounder, Armond Honoré, about the limitations in billing technology for lawyers and other professionals. When Alcide proposed the idea for Billseye, Armond's response was, "we can do that". The rest is history, as the brothers have successfully built the world's most innovative billing platform for mobile calls.
What's next? The complete disruption of the mobile voice communications industry. The current iteration of Billseye is just the first step on a path towards a future where our users can regain control of the time they spend communicating on their mobile devices. Billseye will make the saying "time is money" a tangible reality for anyone running our software.
Alcide earned his BA at Duke University and his MA and JD from Georgia State University. Alcide resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Cori, and has four children, AJ, Adyn, Ace and Axel.
Alcide is especially grateful for the opportunity to realize a lifelong dream of building a business with his brother.
BingeWave is a No Code/Low Code solution and API for quickly building video and audio live streaming apps with interactive features such as polling, e-commerce, chat, and more.Devin Dixon
Devin is a serial entrepreneur and developer. He taught himself to code C++ at 12 years old, started his first business in college at 19, and graduated with a computer science and business degree while running Division One Track & Field on scholarship. Over the years, he has started several companies such as Sprout Connections, an app to help people find relevant connections at professional networking events, which he grew to 60k users. Another organization he built was Untapped Founders - a networking organization for Black/Brown Founders that he grew across four cities in 5 months and partnered with notable brands such as First Round Capital and Airbnb. Devin's ability to write code, lead teams, and sell products make him a formidable company builder. In addition to start-ups, Devin teaches coding at boot camps and is an avid Tough Mudder/Spartan Racer.
Blue Studios is a live and on-demand Pre K to 12th grade STEM edutainment platform leveraging automation, synthetic media, and game design principles to create content cheaper, faster, and better, while also enabling the middle class of creators in the passion and gig economy.Kelley Cambry
Kelley Cambry is a third-generation entrepreneur who grew up in a production studio.
Kelley is a graduate of Howard University with a B.B.A. in Marketing and Finance. Currently, Kelley is the CEO and Co-Founder of Blue Studios. Kelley’s background is in finance and computer science, where she ran digital at Fortune 500 companies as Assistant Vice President at JPMorgan and American Express. Her strategies led to over $2.1 billion in value in customer spend. Kelley also developed and taught livestream classes for General Assembly’s large enterprise accounts such as Staples, Viacom, and L'Oréal. Kelley is the co-founder of Paige & Paxton Labs, an award-winning elementary STEM curriculum, sold to over 17 school systems around the country. Paige & Paxton’s methodology has been studied by the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Boddle is a gamified education platform for grades K-6 that leverages AI and gameplay to transform digital learning content into engaging learning experiences that are simultaneously fun, personalized, and effective.Edna Martinson
Edna Martinson is the co-founder of Boddle Learning. Originally from Ghana, West Africa, Edna came to the US to pursue her Bachelors of Science in International Business at the age of 16. She also holds an MBA from the University of Missouri— Kansas City. Prior to starting Boddle, she worked in operations, marketing, and market analysis for companies in edtech, commercial real estate and higher education. Recently recognized in Forbes Next 1000, Edna has always been a big believer in the importance of education and a solid foundation at a young age, and this passion to help young kids succeed academically has fueled her passion for the edtech space.
Donald T Boone
BoxedUp is an on-demand equipment rental marketplace.Donald T Boone
Donald T Boone is a 2008 Mechanical Engineering graduate from North Carolina A&T State University. A Seat Pleasant, MD native, Donald is a self-taught coder, 3x founder, and a long time operator with more than 13 years in both startup and Fortune 100 enterprises. After nearly four years leading teams and building customer solutions at Amazon's Business Marketplace, he and his team are scaling BoxedUp, an on-demand equipment rental platform disrupting the 335 billion dollar sharing economy.
CLLCTVE is the portfolio platform connecting Creators to their next opportunity.Kelsey Davis
Kelsey Davis is the Founder/CEO of CLLCTVE, the portfolio platform connecting creators to their next opportunity. Based in Los Angeles, CA, CLLCTVE is fueled by partners like Google and Techstars. Prior to CLLCTVE, Davis was known for producing visual content for global consumer brands like Coca Cola, Land Rover, Puma and Conde Nast Entertainment. Since graduating from Syracuse University with a BS in Television, Radio, and Film ('19) and MS in Entrepreneurship ('20), Davis has already been featured as a next-gen leader by Forbes 30 Under 30, Adweek, and the NYTimes.
COI Energy is a digital energy management platform that detects and eliminates energy waste in buildings.SaLisa Berrien
SaLisa L. Berrien, Founder and CEO of COI Energy, has over two decades of experience in the electric power and smart grid space. From working at electric utilities to Smart Grid, Clean Tech, and Big Data Analytics companies, SaLisa has had a diverse career in the energy space. She practices the Platinum Rule in all that she does, "Do unto your customer as they would have you to do unto them.”
Since 1996, SaLisa provided over 50 scholarships to high school and college students. In 2004, she established the Karl H. Lewis Engineering Impact Alumni Endowment at the University of Pittsburgh for minority students enrolled in Engineering with four scholarships disbursed to date.
SaLisa holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and an Executive MBA from Saint Joseph’s University. She’s been a guest speaker at various conferences and events including SXSW, Florida’s Women in Energy Leadership Forum, American Society for Engineering Education, and Morgan Stanley’s Sustainable Futures Summit to name a few. In 2019, she was appointed to the Board of Trustees at the University of Pittsburgh.
One of SaLisa's core values is philanthropy. Her mission in life is to positively impact the space she occupies by leaving it better than she found it.
CustomerX.i is a Know-Your-Customer platform for restaurants and retailers helping them accelerate their digital transformation and increase share of wallet of customers.Hakeem James
Originally from Cleveland, OH, Hakeem James is the founder and CEO of CustomerX.i. With experience at some of the most notable coupon and advertising companies, Hakeem utilized his natural talent for linking the technical and commercial industries in order to launch CX.i in 2019. His vision is to give everyone access to customer data, particularly local mom-and-pop restaurants that may not have the resources to leverage a sophisticated digital platform. Hakeem volunteers annually with mentorship to youth via Kappa Alpha Psi's Kappa League in his free time.
DOSS is a voice-activated digital real estate assistant designed to radically evolve the way people search, service, and transact real estate.Bobby Bryant
Bobby Bryant is the CEO of DOSS Group INC., the holding company for: Ask DOSS, DOSS Pros, DOSS Social Agents, DOSS Home Loans, DOSS Home Warranty, etc... For the last five(5) years, he and his team have been obsessed with creating and developing an End-to-End Fair-Priced Digital Real Estate Marketplace that will radically evolve the way people buy, rent, search, sell, and service real estate. Mr. Bryant has two(2) Masters Degrees in Education(Special Education & Education Administration) and taught in both Alabama and Texas. He has approximately 21 years of real estate experience. He's currently a FORBES Contributor writing about all things real estate. And, Bobby Bryant was 1 of 74 Who's Who Real Estate Experts(the only African American) nationwide interviewed and noted in the first ever D.A.N.G.E.R. REPORT: A very comprehensive report to help every Brokerage, MLS, and Real Estate Association throughout the country think through some fundamental threats and changes that may be coming to the real estate industry.
The idea of building an Intelligent Personal Assistant exclusively for the real estate industry happened in 2011 when he saw IBM Watson play against the two(2) winningest players in Jeopardy history. Months later, Apple introduced the world to Siri. He wanted to empower everybody to speak, text, or type any question about any property to get accurate, easy, and instant answers. Bobby Bryant has built the ideal team, the best technology, and at the right time. DOSS: BETTER. FASTER. SMARTER.
EyeGage increases the speed and accuracy of drug detection with computer vision analysis of the eye.LaVonda Brown
Dr. LaVonda Brown is the founder and CEO of EyeGage. She has an MS and PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech, as well as an MBA from the Scheller College of Business. Her expertise lies in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and eye-analysis technologies. She has developed a robotic engagement model based on user eye gaze and pupil size (dilation and constriction). This engagement model has been applied to both math education and physical therapy to improve learning outcomes. Dr. Brown has also developed an eye-analysis system to validate eye tracking as a viable biomarker for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). For this system, she developed machine learning algorithms to model and classify patients as healthy or MCI/AD based on their eye data. Over the past decade, the robotic engagement model and eye-analysis software has been published, patented, and licensed for commercial use. After living with a loved one with an alcohol addiction, Dr. Brown has now applied the aforementioned eye-analysis techniques to individuals under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
A platform for hosting live talk shows between VIPs and fans from anywhere, broadcast everywhere.Adam Jones
Adam Jones is cofounder, CEO, and CTO of FanFest, a "Clubhouse meets Twitch" platform where fans virtually "hop on stage" with VIPs, which the biggest names in entertainment use to create interactive experiences personalized to each fan with 2 lines of code unlocking 100x incremental revenue per fan.
Prior to FanFest, Adam spent 8 years in strategy consulting for Fortune 500 tech, media, and healthcare companies at PwC. Prior to PwC, Adam studied Neuroscience (and took a couple CS courses) at Amherst College.
For more information about FanFest, follow @FanFestLive on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or visit www.fanfest.io.
Fêtefully is a virtual wedding planning studio making professional planning accessible for couples while enabling planners to make money in their spare time.GiGi McDowell
GiGi McDowell is the CEO and Founder of Fêtefully, a virtual wedding & event planning studio based in Dallas & Los Angeles with planners in over 25 states, Canada, Mexico & the Caribbean. She is a serial entrepreneur, starting her first company at 13, and is passionate about building a company at the intersection of weddings & technology. GiGi has been featured on ABC Family, FOX, and Huffington Post for her work in the wedding & event planning industry.
Fourth Party is the most feature-rich practice management solution for mediators, arbitrators, and negotiators.Melissa Brogdon
Melissa R. Brogdon is an Oakland, CA native who has been an entrepreneur since age 12.
Melissa co-founded Fourth Party, a scalable Saas application, to provide a more efficient practice management solution for negotiators. In her role as Head of Product, Melissa is currently managing the development team and driving beta testing of Fourth Party’s enterprise solutions. Melissa was selected for Collab Capital’s 2020 Prep School for Founders and Google for Startups 2021 Founder’s Academy.
Melissa is also an accomplished fundraiser who leverages her extensive experience as a grant writer, and an events and digital fundraising strategist to coach leaders and teams who serve mission-driven organizations. Her work has driven more than $10 million in philanthropic investments to vulnerable women, children, and communities in Georgia since 2014.
In addition to her professional work, Melissa volunteers with the Junior League of Atlanta, Twelve Days of Christmas Inc. and as a board member with Atlanta Unbound Academy.
Melissa is a proud alumna of Spelman College and The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. She resides in Atlanta.
Fund Black Founders
The new Friends, Family, Fans & Funds for Black Founders empowering everyone to fund Black-Owned businesses from start to profitability.Renee King
Renee King is a serial entrepreneur and founder of FundBlackFounders.
She founded her company after witnessing an investor shame a group of Black founders for not being able to raise a friends and family round.
On that day, she made it her purpose to create friends and family capital for every Black Founder. She takes a nurturing, collaborative approach paired with group economics in helping founders secure the capital they need to be able to fulfill their wildest entrepreneurial dreams.
To date this funding alternative she created consists of over 4000 individuals who have collectively provided $1.4M in capital to 70 Black founders.
It takes a village to raise a Founder, and Renee is on a mission to create that village for 10,000 Black Founders.
She is reimagining conscious consumerism and connecting all communities, organizations, and individuals to be the new Friends, Family, Fans & Funds for Black entrepreneurs.
Join her on her mission to fund Black Founders at fundBLACKFounders.com.
FundStory is an all-in-one solution to help founders access and manage non-dilutive capital.Bobby Gilbert
Before founding FundStory, Bobby entered the technology industry as an early sales hire at CartsGuru. Shortly after, began his entrepreneurial career focused on software, internet services, and mobile technologies as co-founder of two consumer-focused startups. From these experiences he learned early on that not every tech business is a good fit for venture capital. This amongst other insights, led to a mission driven purpose to help founders access capital while avoiding dilution.
GeoCloud enables personalized and enriched, location based experiences.Abiodun Johnson
Abiodun Johnson is a co-founder of GeoCloud, a location intelligence platform that solves location based and near-me area network problems through software applications. GeoCloud’s flagship product is uGeo which is a geo social network that allow consumers to engage with the community around them, receive alerts when relative products and services are near them, and stay up to date on what’s happening around them.
Prior to starting GeoCloud, Abiodun co-founded COSIGN, a tech platform that allows brands to create, distribute and monetize visual content through social media influencers and brand advocates. He helped lead the COSIGN platform from concept to launch and raised over $1.4 million in seed funding.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Abiodun moved to Nigeria as a child and returned to the states at the age of six. His passion for technology started at a young age and brought him to New Hampshire, where he majored in Engineering Sciences at Dartmouth College.
Abiodun is a natural leader with an extensive background in tech, with more than a decade of experience building software products in artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital marketing, eCommerce and social commerce for B2B and B2C customers.
In addition to his devotion to tech and entrepreneurship, Johnson is passionate about empowering others to achieve success. He currently resides in Manhattan, where he enjoys traveling and exploring different cultures, spending time with his family and practicing Muay Thai in his free time.
Greentop Gifts brings diversity to every celebration.Jacquelyn Rodgers
Launched in 2016 by Jackie Rodgers, Greentop Gifts has become a go-to brand for celebratory inclusion and representation. What started as a personal hunt for holiday gift wrap featuring a Black Santa eventually turned into the creation of Clarence Claus, the brand’s signature holiday character and cultural icon featured on Greentop Gifts’ apparel, home decor, stationary, and a bevy of other products, making Greentop Gifts a true lifestyle brand. As a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, the HBCU alum is on a mission to bring diversity to all celebrations by making them culturally inclusive in an era where representation matters. What originally began with Christmas products solely for her two-year-old son turned into a company bringing joy to thousands of other households across the United States with their unique and captivating gifting products that include birthdays and special celebrations. Greentop Gifts has been featured in Essence, O, The Oprah Magazine, NBC News, People.com, and Beyonce.com.
Journey Foods solves food science and supply chain inefficiencies with software to help food and beverage companies efficiently feed billions better.Riana Lynn
Founder and CEO Riana Lynn leads fast-growing software startup Journey Foods. The company is backed by top VCs in North America, Europe and Asia. Riana has served as a top consultant and VC to fortune 500 food and CPG companies. She's currently an angel investor and former Google Entrepreneur in Residence. She is one of just a few dozen black women that have raised more than a million dollars in venture funding. Riana has been featured in Forbes, MIT 35 under 35, USA Today, Fast Company, CNBC, Wired, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more.
Riana Lynn is a Chicago native and Austin-based entrepreneur who enjoys growing fruit trees, writing film scripts and exploring black culinary and architectural heritage sites worldwide. She currently sits on the board of AGLIFF, one of the country's largest annual and inclusive film festivals.
JusticeText improves criminal justice outcomes for low-income Americans by expediting the review of body-camera footage, interrogation videos, jail calls, and other audiovisual discovery.Leslie Jones-Dove
Leslie Jones-Dove is the CTO and co-founder of JusticeText. He received his BS in computer science from the University of Chicago in 2019. He formerly worked as a software engineer at Google Photos, where he built features to improve the monetizabilty of its Photos’ almost 1 billion monthly active users. His feature launches and experimentation there have generated millions of new revenue for Google photos, contributing to its long term financial health as a stand alone product. He applies the engineering excellence and rigor gained from this role to his work at JusticeText a video evidence management software company.
Equipping educators, school-based clinicians, administrators and parents with evidence-based data and instructional support software tools that help students with learning disabilities achieve success in the classroom, and in life.Andrew Hill
Andrew is the CEO/Co-founder of LiftEd, where he leads a team of 11 in their purpose-driven work to close the achievement gap for individuals with learning disabilities school, community, and home settings. In 2020, Andrew and co-founder Joanne raised $1.4M to scale LiftEd's impact in education from prominent impact and EdTech investors across the US. Andrew was recognized in 2018 as a Forbes 30U30 recipient for his work in Education.
Before launching LiftEd in 2016, Andrew worked as a technology consultant and user experience designer at Deloitte Consulting. Andrew spent 5 years designing enterprise software for Fortune 100 companies throughout the U.S., Europe, and India. It was at Deloitte that he developed a passion for creating software that improved lives and drove measurable impact in society.
Andrew earned an M.B.A from the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business in 2016 and a B.B.A in Management Information Systems from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010.
Lillii RNB Inc
Through our software platform, Freeing Returns™, we are providing System Integration as a Service, starting with Omnichannel Returns Management.Barbara Jones
Hi my names is Barbara Jones and I've always been in Retail, I started out as a Cashier at the age of 15, then got a Computer Science degree from UT Austin and was recruited by a startup that was Building cash register software/point of sale systems.
I’ve been in the Retail Technology sector for close to 20 years and have been on the founding teams of 2 Retail Technology startups that both exited for close to $100M.
Software that I’ve created is running in over 4000 stores throughout the US, Canada and Japan. I’ve been a POS Architect and Solutions Architect for The Home Depot, LL Bean and PepBoy and many more solving multi-million dollar issues for them.
I have deep expertise in Point of Sale and Store Returns Management and have been selling to large Retail enterprises for the past 8 years.
Meetcaregivers is a Innovative Marketplace for Senior Care that connects seniors with all the resources they need.Florence Furaha
Founder and CEO of Meetcaregivers. I have over 10+ years' experience in elder care, working as a caregiver and a care manager. After getting my MBA at Babson College, I joined Bank of America but left to launch Meetcaregivers with the idea that tech can be used to mitigate caregiver challenges that seniors struggle with. At Meetcaregivers, our goal is to enable millions of seniors to age happy and healthy at home.
Meter Feeder allows you to pay for parking by turning off your vehicle.Jim Gibbs
Jim Gibbs, a NY native, came to Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon University's school of Computer Science. Leaving early, Jim now has almost 40 years of experience as a software developer and 25 years in management. He is now focused on driving revenue growth through a deep understanding the challenges civic leaders face.
Jim has a philosophy of "Fix Things that Ruin your Day." As a regular receiver of parking tickets, this lead him and his long-time programming partner to create Meter Feeder, the parking payment solution that helps vehicles easily remain compliant. He has a similar outlook in life advocating and instilling the principle that the world will be a better place if people keep taking chances and lead by example.
Mini City is a SaaS that obtains legal identification and life critical benefits for the homeless + homeless care providersIndia Hayes
India Hayes is a 2010 Graduate from Savannah College of Art and Design and holds a BFA in Graphic Design. Upon graduation, Hayes worked for organizations like the CDC, Turner Sports, CNN and Atlanta Tech Village. Hayes knows the importance of clear, effective communication and sustainable efforts. That is why she utilizes her design skills whenever she can for social good and sustainability. She has assisted water aide organizations with tech of social good in places as far as Nicaragua, and participated in hackathons right within her homebase of Georgia. In 2017, she founded tech start up Mini City (2021 Cisco Global Problem Solver Winner, 2020 Girl Boss Winner, 2020 Black Excellence Winner, 2020 REVOLT TV Winner, 2018 Startup Awards Nominee for Best Social Good Start Up, 2019 Startup Runway Winner, 2020 Startup World Cup Finalist); to alleviate homelessness in Metro Atlanta. Hayes has assisted thousands of homeless citizens within Atlanta, with ages ranging from 1 to 60 years old. Hayes feels that when a community's most vulnerable are empowered, whether it be within the US or overseas, it is transformed for the better.
Mixtroz facilitates group gatherings using real-time data so that every human interaction is an opportunity for meaningful connection.Ashlee Ammons
Ashlee Ammons holds a BA in Mass Communications and Public Relations from Baldwin Wallace University. She is the 38th Black Female to raise over $1M in pre-seed funding. Prior to co-founding Mixtroz with her mother, Kerry Schrader, Ashlee established a career as an Events Producer working with an impressive list of A-listers including Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jay-Z, as well as legacy brands like Moet Hennessy and Coca-Cola.
Ashlee serves on the Executive Board of Tech Birmingham and is an Advisor to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center following her time on the NEC’s Board. Ashlee is a 2019 Birmingham Business Journal 40 Under 40 recipient as well as Birmingham 40 Under 40 of the decade and Business Journals National Rising Star. Ashlee and her mother were named “Powerful Women” by Entrepreneur Magazine on their inaugural list in November, 2019. In November 2020, Ashlee was selected among the 100 Black, female entrepreneurs and innovators presented with funding as well as 100 days of resources by Amex and IFundWomen of Color as part of their new 100 for 100 program.
The nēdl app and web platform has been democratizing access to information and the microphone itself since 2017 by giving everybody their own live call-in radio show that transcribes, amplifies, and monetizes their words as they speak.Ayinde Alakoye
Ayinde Alakoye is the Founder of nēdl, the creator of the original iheartradio app, a former pro-beach volleyball player, a former Speechwriter for President Obama, a proud father of a toddler, and an inventor. Born in Washington, DC as a child of the 80's, Ayinde fell in love with Radio at a young age and found his first major career success as an Account Manager for the number one revenue radio station in the country, WTOP. After becoming one of the highest paid radio advertising sales people in the country at CBS Radio in Los Angeles, he struck out to bring Radio to mobile phones with his first of three radio-focused startups in 2003-- before there was an AppStore. This company later partnered with Clear Channel to pilot the original version of iheartradio in 2007. He is a TechCrunch contributor, a former Executive Board Member of the Applications Development Alliance and was a recipient of the 50th Anniversary March on Washington Emancipation of Capital Award with Mark Cuban and the late Congressman John Lewis. Ayinde served on the Obama Campaign as a Message Advisor and staffer in the battleground state Ohio in 2008 and advised again in 2012. Among the words and themes he volunteered to the campaign were the words, "The fundamental choice in this campaign is the choice between the Past vs. the Future."
Oatfin enables companies to deliver cloud applications faster by helping transition from manual processes to self-service automation.Jay Paulynice
Jay is a Co-Founder and CEO at Oatfin. As the CEO, he is responsible for overall strategy and direction of the company from building the first prototype to acquiring the first customers. He holds a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and he is passionate about the cloud, music, and fitness.
PeduL is a marketplace that helps corporations diversify their workforce, with scholarships.Chisa Egbelu
Chisa Egbelu is an award-winning entrepreneur, producer, and media specialist. He's most known as the CEO and co-founder of PeduL, a marketplace for corporations to diversify their workforce with scholarship programs. As a native of Baton Rouge, LA, Chisa started his career as a college readiness coordinator helping raise the SAT and ACT scores throughout his city. After proven success, he was appointed as a youth advisor to the Mayor where he had the opportunity to contribute to progress on a systemic level. Chisa went on to Rutgers University to write his first dissertation on the Higher Education Bubble, and while there, launched the #1 radio show on campus, gaining the attention of producers across the tri-state. Chisa went on to work with New York City's #1 Hit Music Station at the Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, NBCUniversal at MSNBC's Morning Joe, and Google's Community Leaders Program as a Marketing Lead. Based on his experience early in his career, and the lack of diversity at his places of employment, Chisa saw a keen opportunity to utilize scholarships in order to hyper-target demographic specific recruiting within corporate America. These were the seeds that blossomed into PeduL.
Please Assist Me
Please Assist Me is a home management platform for multi-family communities to provide a fully integrated living experience for their residents.Stephanie Cummings
Stephanie Cummings, CEO and Co-Founder of Please Assist Me, started Please Assist Me to bring true work-life balance by allowing users to come home to everything done. Previously, Stephanie worked with a healthcare IT startup that was acquired. In her last role, she was responsible for program oversight of a new product that realized over $1MM in revenue during its first year on the market. Stephanie received her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University.
Aaron P. Woods
Podpal is the all-in-one podcast management platform. We help podcast teams plan, publish, and promote their show without all the stress and clutter.Aaron P. Woods
Aaron is the Founder & CEO of Podpal, the all-in-one podcast management platform. He came up with the idea for Podpal while helping his wife, Tania, with the production of her first show. As a new podcaster, she was struggling to release content regularly due to the fragmented processes & tools available today. Aaron discovered that Tania’s need for podcast management was not an isolated problem. In fact, most new podcasters give up by Episode 6 due to the administrative burden of podcasting. This inspired him to create a simple and intuitive app for podcasting that helps podcasters spend less time as an admin and more time doing what they love: telling stories, interviewing guests, and building their brand.
Aaron embodies the company’s mantra of “A Podcaster’s Best Friend®,” and seeks to help millions of podcast teams plan, publish, and promote their show without all the stress and clutter. As the only black-owned podcasting startup, Aaron is also passionate providing the education, tools, and opportunities that empower podcasters of color and amplify black voices!
While Aaron has successfully transitioned into tech, he actually began his career as a Structural Design Engineer for MKA in Seattle, WA. Some notable structures he was a part of designing include Amazon’s Campus & Spheres in Seattle and Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. After a few years in building design, he joined Boeing as a Quality Engineer on the 777X Program. He eventually transitioned into software through his work as a startup Founder and entrepreneur. This helped him secure senior leadership positions at big technology companies like The Home Depot and Microsoft while bootstrapping Podpal and building the app on nights and weekends.
Aaron currently resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife and 4 amazing children. When he’s not creating and innovating, he enjoys spending time with family, playing acoustic guitar, and advocating for children and adults on the Autism Spectrum.
Promenade matches and connects military veterans to the critical resources that matter for their post-military journey.JT Liddell
JT Liddell has worked in intelligence for U.S. Special Operations, solo piloted a helicopter through the Arizona mountains, spoken Pashto and drank chai tea with village elders in southern Afghanistan, and worked for multiple Fortune 50 companies in corporate America.
But his most important mission ever is building social-impact focused tech startup Promenade. At Promenade, their mission is to match and connect military veterans to the resources that matter to them so they can navigate post-military life in a more seamless and purposeful way.
In previous positions with IBM, JP Morgan, and the US Intelligence Community, JT has also developed and maintained strong external partnerships and has worked in high technology with a focus in key areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data research and analytics, blockchain, data mining, and program development.
JT holds an MBA from George Washington University, enjoys traveling the world and learning new languages, and is the self-declared ping-pong champion of his family.
Solving the nursing shortage by guiding non-degree healthcare workers along the path to becoming Registered NursesJanna Westbrook
With over 10 years of experience, Janna Westbrook is a demonstrated leader in Healthcare Administration and Nursing Education. After a personal struggle with nurse burnout and talent acquisition challenges, Janna created a ‘Nurses-on-demand’ app for healthcare organizations suffering from the nursing shortage. She then led Provider Pool from idea stage to revenue generation in less than 6 months, securing investors, customers and top talent along the way. Provider Pool has since generated $1M+ in revenue and continues to make a major impact in up-skilling the nursing workforce.
Aside from Provider Pool, Janna teaches clinical skills to nursing students, tutors for NCLEX and coaches high schoolers on their journey to becoming Registered Nurses.
Her passion lies in solving the nursing shortage by helping more people come into the healthcare field and stay in the healthcare field!
Safer Management, Inc.
Cloud-based software solution that tracks student attendance data.Fredrick Burns
A native of Mississippi, Fred received his bachelor of science degree in computer engineering from Jackson State University in 2014. He was a software engineer for American Airlines and JP Morgan Chase before joining Verizon Wireless as a senior iOS engineer and transitioning to run his own companies in 2020.
Fred has a passion for solving real-world problems through the use of technology. Fred credits a vast majority of his success from the meaningful relationships he built, mentorship, and the village that has supported him every step of his journey. He is a national board member for a non-profit call Youth Villages, which serves at-risk youths and teens aging out of the foster care system, an organization that he was a part of as a teen. Fred has received many awards ranging from national leadership awards to a resolution from his hometown Jackson, Mississippi, for his work in the community.
When Fred's face is not glued to the computer screen, he enjoys attending sporting events and spending time with his twin boys, who are the sole reason he started Safer Management.
No code drag drop solution for mobile applications (wordpress for native mobile apps)Sterling Smith
Sterling Smith fell in love with technology at the age of 9, during his first experience with a computer (one could say it was a love at first sight). Since that time he has made it his mission to dig deeper and deeper into software and understand how it works.
He is a software engineer turned startup founder based in Austin, Texas. After working in industry at Walmart, Lockheed Martin and Booz Allen Hamilton, Sterling founded his first company, LaunchPartner.co in 2013. LaunchPartner.co’s mission is to help non-technical subject matter experts launch their MVP’s. The company's philosophy is “if it can’t be built within 8 weeks, it’s probably not an MVP.”
Sterling began building his second company, Sandbox Commerce, in 2018. Sandbox Commerce enables traditional retailers to launch bespoke, rapidly scalable mobile apps quickly via a no-code drag and drop platform. The app is particularly adaptable to today’s retail woes, because it enables contactless curbside commerce, appointment scheduling, last-mile delivery and other services to allow consumers to access products from a safe distance. Retailers can launch their apps on both iOS and Google Play AppStores.
Seshie provides live and data-driven modern-day Learning & Development workshops for teams that improves mental health, retention & performance for employees.Kofi Frimpong
Kofi Frimpong is a Ghanaian American entrepreneur that grew up in New Jersey. After graduating from Princeton University he took on business development and product roles at early stage startups in NYC and became fascinated with startups, technology and venture capital. He’s currently the Co-Founder of Seshie, which provides live and data-driven modern-day Learning & Development workshops for teams that improves mental health, retention & performance for employees.
Shamrck uses artificial intelligence to help schools make smarter decisions with student insights for career and technical education.Sheffie Robinson
Sheffie Robinson is a serial entrepreneur, software engineer, and sociologist that specializes in solving racial and gender equity with technology. She is currently the CEO of Shamrck an artificial intelligence platform designed to bring data mining and predictive analytics to career and technical education programs. She has over 20 years of experience in technology development and over 15 years of experience in retail sales and marketing. She has spent significant time in her career working to impact gender and racial equity to enhance diversity and inclusion. She is a second time founder, her first company being a fintech product that brought banking services to virtual currencies. Sheffie is a graduate of Thomas Edison State University with a degree in Sociology and is currently pursuing her MBA at Georgia Southern University. Sheffie has been named the Top 10 under 40 and a Top CEO by the Mississippi Business Journal as well as named Cloud Platform for the year by Women in Cloud and M12, Microsoft Venture Capital Fund.
In addition to her business, she regularly mentors startups on product development, branding, and project management to help them stay lean as they build a business. Her work with underrepresented founders has helped her to become a steward for diversity, equity, and inclusion. In her personal life, Sheffie is a military spouse and mother of 3 hailing from their current duty station in Vicksburg, MS, but she's a Georgia native. She also enjoys virtual live-action roleplay and is a huge Anime fan.
Sign-Speak is a real-time AI Sign Language recognition software that automatically translates American Sign Language (ASL) to English, and English to ASL.Yamillet Payano
As a first-generation student and Afro-Latina immigrant, hustling and hard work were always in Yamillet (Yami) Payano's veins. In the Dominican Republic, she grew up to the sounds of "El Gallo pelón"(the bold rooster) and her mother's constant reminders to be in the house before sunset to avoid the shootouts of rival gangs. She saw beyond her horizon and dreamed of going to school. Without any hope of funding her college career, she sought out various scholarships and foundations. She received many no's, but she got a yes from the Gates Millenium Scholarship. Through many late nights of studying and playing catch-up, she not only graduated from American University (AU) with a BS in Economics and Mathematics and a minor in Mandarin but also become the Student-Body president. While at AU, she founded the Cross Campus Organizing Network, which fought to establish support for undocumented communities within higher education. After graduation, she became a Quantitative Analyst at Fannie Mae, where she minimized racial bias within their decision-making models. After Fannie, she co-founded a startup, Sign-Speak: a software service that uses Machine Learning to recognize Sign Language in real-time, which is used to translate between American Sign Language and English. She leads business efforts and ensures that her technical team develops an equitable and responsible product. Through Sign-Speak, she hopes to change the lives of countless people and inspire women with similar backgrounds to live courageously.
Smarter decision-making made affordable - Leverage real time insights and analytics to increase cash flow and optimize your operationsRobert Estill
Robert Estill is currently Chairman and President of SOTAOG LLC, a technology company focused on delivering smart and value based solutions for Oil & Gas and other Heavy Industrial companies. He has over 30 years experience in the industry and he has served in numerous executive positions, including CEO Madagascar Oil, VP Strategy & Portfolio Marathon Oil, President of European Operations, Sr Executive at Texaco and many others.
Robert is a Petroleum Engineering graduate of University of Missouri-Rolla.
Spa Utopia Inc. (D.B.A. Utopia Spa and Global Wellness)
Utopia Spa and Global Wellness is a one-stop shop for *wholistic living that delivers on-demand spa experiences and live wellness classes from around the world!Naya Powell
Naya F. Powell is a #1 Bestselling Author, 3rd generation entrepreneur, CEO/founder of Utopia Spa and Global Wellness (D.B.A. Spa Utopia, Inc.) which delivers luxe spa and virtual wellness experiences on-demand, as well as the Utopia Living Brand. Spa Utopia is a graduate of Google For Startups: Black Founders Exchange.
Powell is a highly regarded thought leader in the world of wellness and innovative self-care. As a Wholistic Lifestyle Strategist and Executive Coach, she offers fifteen (15) plus years of expertise providing wellness solutions for individuals, top brands, and Fortune 500 companies. Utopia’s client list includes the 2020 Olympic Trials, NFL - Super Bowl, The Ritz Carlton, Martha Stewart, Sean Combs, Angela Bassett, and others.
Powell ’s educational background includes a B.A. Degree in Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University, Certification in Massage Therapy from Rising Spirit Institute of Natural Health, and post-graduate studies at the College of Executive Coaching (accredited by the International Coaching Federation). Powell promotes Utopian Lifestyle Strategies as a global speaker, executive coach, mindfulness facilitator, and lifestyle retreat curator.
Powell believes Utopia Living is giving. She serves on the Board of the Daniel Center of Math and Science, speaks at various colleges and universities. She is a global mentor to The Woman Boss in The Gambia - West Africa, where Powell recently visited to deliver Mindful Leadership Training to women entrepreneurs and high school girls.
Swipe Credit's digital lending platform helps lenders grow by making it easy to create fully automated credit products and engaging customer experiences focused on social impact powered by artificial intelligence.Kevin Mobolade
Kevin has over 10+ years of experience in data engineering in the lending industry, he is a United States Army Special Forces trusted advisor and has extensive B2B sales experience, he specializes in building and managing outbound sales teams. He has a computer science degree from Mercer University.
SynsorMed is a digital health company providing culturally relevant monitoring for underserved communities who traditionally lack healthcare support at home.Theodore Harvey
Theo Harvey is the CEO and Co-Founder of SynsorMed, a digital healthcare company transforming virtual care. Prior to SynsorMed, he advised many hospitals, healthcare systems, and small practices on how technology can transform their current workflows, lower the cost of healthcare delivery, and increase patient engagement. In addition, Mr. Harvey has served as an Adjunct Professor for Healthcare Informatics at the Georgia State University, and held several Business Development roles within Cisco, where he managed large accounts like the Veteran’s Administration, AT&T, Sprint, and British Telecom. He received his MBA from Emory University and Masters of Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
The Mentor Method
In under an hour, The Mentor Method helps employers and employees with a SaaS-enabled mentorship platform to increase retention and promote career advancement.Janice Omadeke
Janice Omadeke is the CEO and Founder of The Mentor Method, an enterprise platform helping companies keep and develop their diverse talent using the proven power of mentorship. Using a double-blind algorithm, The Mentor Method is closing the opportunity equity gap in the workplace. The company recently secured over $1M in venture funding. Black Enterprise recognizes Janice as one of DC’s top 5 black women in tech. She has also been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur magazine, and she was a subject matter expert at the 2016 White House Summit on Building the Tech Workforce of Tomorrow. Janice is certified in Entrepreneurship from MIT, and is PMP certified with over 10 years of corporate leadership experience for Fortune 500 companies.
Thermaband Zone is a connected care ecosystem that equips women with a personal comfort device and data analytics to navigate menopause and beyond.Markea Dickinson
Markea Dickinson is founder with a passion for building socially impactful tech-enabled products for underserved populations. She has a diverse range of operational experience in both Fortune 500 companies and startup environments. She co-founded Thermaband with her mother while pursuing an MBA at Yale School of Management.
Tradeblock is a social marketplace that enables sneaker collectors to connect, explore each other's collections, and trade shoes with one another safely and securely.Mbiyimoh Ghogomu
The child of an African lawyer and an American teacher, Mbiyimoh spent the first few years of life in Cameroon before moving to Chicago and eventually landing in Houston, where he spent his formative years.
After two years of college basketball at Dartmouth, he transferred to the University of Texas, where he earned degrees in Sociology and Journalism.
After graduating, he took a job at IBM creating content about what it looked like to apply design thinking at scale.
From there, he led content design on a number of different projects, from IBM's SXSW presence in 2017 to interactive experiences about IBM’s Watson AI technology. He also launched an initiative to get more black and brown designers into IBM’s recruiting pipeline.
In June of 2020, just months after COVID shut down the world, he quit his job at IBM to take a leap of faith on Tradeblock, which he founded with two childhood friends. At the time, Tradeblock was nothing but an Instagram page with a couple hundred followers, but he was obsessed with the idea, and the passion of his cofounders — as well as the sneakerheads they told about the idea — was impossible to ignore.
Since then, Mbiyimoh and his cofounders Darren Smith and Tony Malveaux have built Tradeblock into a dynamic community comprised of tens of thousands of collectors across the country.
In his free time, Mbiyimoh loses money on cryptocurrency, plays an unreasonable amount of Catan, and outlines dystopian novels he will likely never write.
unboXt platform creates deeper team connections by providing managers with personalized insights and recommendations to track and improve team motivation, morale and performance.Hakeem Atwater
Hakeem Isaac is a former investment banker and passionate entrepreneur. He earned his Accounting degree from Morehouse College, and was professionally trained by the likes of Goldman Sachs, PricewaterhouseCooper and Fifth Third Bank. He enjoys competing in Ironman races, marathons or teaching financial literacy to anyone willing to listen. He is a regular speaker at SHRM-Atlanta, Hacking HR, Urban League and Girls Who Code.
Whose Your Landlord (WYL.co)
Improving the relationship between residents and home providers through education, data analytics, and community.Ofo Ezeugwu
Ofo Ezeugwu is the Founder and CEO of WhoseYourLandlord (WYL.co). He graduated from Temple University, where he was the VP of the student body and also the youngest alumni convocation speaker in the school's history. He was recently named to the Forbes #Next1000 List, recognized as the Young Professional of the Year by the African American Chamber of Commerce (2018), is a Techstars' Risingstar, is one of BET's #30Under30, is a Black Enterprise: Modern Man, and his work has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Newsweek, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Blavity, The New York Post, and more. He's also a professional actor and model who's played the lead role in a short film that premiered at the Lincoln Center in NYC (The Letter), walked in NYFW (5x), been featured on the Today Show (7x), and worked with Nike, ESPN (2x), Starbucks, Facebook, Alfani, etc.
Ofo sits on the board of four amazing non profits and is a board of trustee member at a private university. He's very actively plugged into the community and he speaks with local grade schools on leadership, college planning, entrepreneurship, and life skills. He's a Big in the Big Brothers Big Sisters entrepreneurial program. And, he's given lectures on tech - entrepreneurship - and leadership at prestigious locations and universities such as The White House (Obama Administration), Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Wharton, Temple, Villanova, etc. Ofo lives by the mantra, "No steps backward; just forward progress."
XR Sports Group
XR Sports builds personalized social media networks for Influencers, powered by social competitions and mobile games.Kedreon Cole
Kedreon is a dynamic internet entrepreneur and expert ecosystem builder. Ked has over ten (10) years of experience building digital communities and software products. He has worked in the gaming & esports space for 5 years educating corporate brands on social commerce and data driven solutions that best connect brands to the next generation of consumers through digitally focused experiences. Kedreon is a US Military Veteran.
Relationship intelligence software for relationship driven industries (e.g., Private Equity, Investment Banking, Consulting)Ablorde Ashigbi
Ablorde is the CEO of 4Degrees, a Chicago-based technology company, building relationship intelligence software for relationship driven industries. Before 4Degrees, he was an investor at Pritzker Group, and a consultant at Bain & Company.
We provide flexible and affordable financing for low-income college studentsDaniel Rogers
Daniel is the CEO and Co-Founder of A.M. Money a venture capital backed startup focused on providing accessible and affordable financing products for college students.
Daniel created A.M. because of the challenges he had paying for college. After graduating from Kenwood Academy on Chicago’s south side, Daniel enlisted in the US Army. Over the next 4.5 years, he completed 2 years of college courses, including 7 online courses while deployed to Iraq as a Team Leader for Recon Units in Fallujah and Mosul.
After his time in the Army, Daniel transferred to American University in D.C. where he found immediate success with a 3.98 GPA in his first quarter of full-time studies. However, when he showed up for his second quarter he was told without $16,000 he would have to drop-out.
His mother was unable to support him or co-sign on a loan, and he had to resort to asking his grandmother in a nursing home to co-sign instead.
He is focused on ensuring that no one else has to go through that experience.
After graduating, Daniel became a Foreign Affairs Officer in the U.S. State Department focused on political stabilization and economic development in war-torn societies. He later went on to get his MBA in Analytical Finance from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and has had business roles at Uber Technologies, and Deutschebank.
Alerje uses proactive patient design to improve patient outcomes and reduce the cost of care in the food allergy industry.Javier Evelyn
Javier Evelyn is the Founder & CEO of Alerje. He's a founding team member of MedTech Color, and served on the boards of FIB, FAACT, & Advamed Accel. Javier made the 2019 Crain’s Detroit Business 40u40 list and served as the 2017 CODE2040 Detroit EIR.
Aquagenuity™ is a data analytics platform that helps you find out "What's In Your Water?" (as easily as you check the weather) in real-time from any smart device.Doll Avant
Featured by ForbesWomen and The New York Times, Doll Avant is an award-winning tech entrepreneur, a cum laude graduate of Harvard University, and a TEDx speaker. As a data scientist and social impact strategist, Doll was honored with the global designation of “Google's Woman of Water” and featured on Google's home page for creating the “world’s largest water database.” Doll is the Founder & CEO of Aquagenuity ("Where Water Meets Ingenuity"), which has been recognized by Forbes, Google, Singularity University @ NASA Research Park, Coca-Cola, and WIRED Magazine as the first in the world to use big data, blockchain, and artificial intelligence to help consumers, corporations and smart cities answer the question: “What’s In Your Water?” in real-time, in order to predict and prevent water-related public health crises. This award-winning data analytics platform helps users track local water quality in real time and monitor water’s impact on health & sustainability, all the way to the tap. The platform launched globally at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
Bandwagon helps artists, athletes, entertainers, and event organizers connect with their fan communities to deliver world-class personalized experiences.Harold Hughes
Harold Hughes is the founder & CEO of Bandwagon, a live experience technology company. A rising star in data, identity, and experience space, Harold has had his ideas validated as a graduate (and now mentor) of the Founder Institute Greenville chapter; graduate of Capital Factory - Austin, one of the inaugural companies in Google for Startups Black Founders Exchange Program, and most recently the inaugural cohort of the IBM Blockchain Accelerator in 2019.
A man of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Harold is actively involved in his community participating on the Board of Directors for Rebuild Upstate and Visit Greenville. He also serves as a board member for Women@Austin, a non-profit that focuses on the advancement of women entrepreneurs as they grow their companies. To that end, Harold is also an active angel investor, investing in women, people of color, and Black founder-led companies. Most notably, he has invested in Partake Foods, the Jay-Z-backed CPG company making allergy-friendly, snacks as well as Goodr, Edlyft, OKO, Journey Foods, and Stix. As a strong believer in mentorship, he makes time to speak with youth and his peers about his journey to entrepreneurship and how he has found success along the way.
Harold Hughes is a graduate of Clemson University where he received Bachelors degrees in both Economics (B.A.) and Political Science (B.A.). As a “Triple Tiger”, he also completed his MBA at Clemson, before pursuing a graduate certificate in Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Stanford University.
Black Women's Wealth Alliance, SBC
Black Women's Wealth Alliance strengthens the pulse of the movement and momentum for the economic advancement and success of Black Women.Kenya Mcknight
Kenya McKnight-Ahad grew up on the Northside of Minneapolis. As the second oldest of five, she is the first in her immediate family to attend college, attending Minneapolis Technical & Community College studying Urban Education & Human Services, Metro State University studying Education and St, Mary’s University- Nova Scotia, CA studying Management of Cooperatives & Credit Unions.
McKnight-Ahad has worked as a servant leader in the community for more than 20 years across the areas of public education, housing advocacy, youth development, social justice public policy, business support services, transportation policy/finance and planning, wealth & financial education, economic development planning and more. Additionally, she has led on community development boards, commissions, and other related initiatives and holds extensive experience as a direct business service provider, facilitating lending and technical support to small businesses.
Well-known in the Minnesota region and community, McKnight-Ahad was a 2009 candidate for the 5th Ward Minneapolis City Council seat and the first African American in Minnesota to serve as a Met Council appointee to the Transportation Advisory Board.
McKnight has garnered several awards and honors. She is a 2007 LISC Fellow, a 2012 Hubert H. Humphrey Policy Fellow, a 2012 Bush Fellow, a 2017 NorthStar Cooperative Fellow, and a 2019 Alafia Fellow. In 2019, she was dual honored as a Minneapolis & Saint Paul Business Journal “Top Women in Business“ and a Finance & Commerce “Top Women in Finance.” She has been recognized by the Minnesota Black Chambers of Commerce as one of 100 top leading Black women in MN, recognized by Fearless Commerce magazine as a 2020 fierce Black woman business leader, and a 2020 Integrated Capital Institute Fellow. McKnight-Ahad was recently selected as a 2021 Minne Inno Fire Award Honoree, a 2021 LISC Developers of Color Flagship Program Fellow, inducted into Minnesota’s African American History in the 21st Century history book and the new owner of the ZaRah commercial building located at 1200 West Broadway within North Minneapolis.
Brown Toy Box
Brown Toy Box is a children's educational products company that creates STEAM kits, toys, games and digital content that centers and celebrates Black children.Terri-Nichelle Bradley
Terri-Nichelle Bradley led successful PR and marketing campaigns for 20 years prior to launching Brown Toy Box. In 2016, as the subscription box industry thrived, Bradley noticed a tremendous gap in the market similar to the gap in the traditional retail market. Toy companies and publishers were still not making modern, culturally relevant products to serve today’s Black children. Armed with an expertise in multicultural marketing and passion for entrepreneurship with a heart for children’s issues and women’s economic empowerment, Bradley decided to start a company that took a holistic approach to equipping Black children with a positive self image and preparing them for the future of work through toys and play.
Civic Eagle is a collaboration software for lobbyists and policy leaders.Damola Ogundipe
Damola is a graduate of the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management with a degree in Finance.
When it comes to entrepreneurial experience, Damola started and successful scaled a sneaker retail company while also being a member of the University of Minnesota Football Team.
When not leading Civic Eagle, he's also a co-owner of Sky Resort Studios, a Los Angeles based company that converts shipping containers into music production studios.
When it comes to community experience, Damola has led voter drives, is on the board of two non-profits, and is obsessed with improving the American political process.
Clubba (by Usit)
Clubba (by Usit) is a virtual after school clubs for kids ages 7-13, led by college student counselors.Connor Ford
As a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Connor Ford gained his Bachelor of Business Administration (BAA), in Strategy & Innovation. While there, he worked as a research assistant for almost two years.
After graduating, he spent six years working with the Spirit App LLC team as one of its Co-Founders. Spirit was founded to build relationships, boost employee engagement, and perfect user's overall engagement strategy.
Now Ford is the acting Chief Technology Officer for Clubba Inc.
Countifi (formally Countalytics)
Countifi uses computer vision and machine learning to help clients save money in inventory costs. "We take pictures of your inventory and count it automatically, eliminating the need for manual counting.David Hailey
David Hailey is the CEO and Founder of Countifi (formally Countalytics); an image analysis and data analytics company that focuses on helping hospitals, airlines and universities manage inventory processes more efficiently. “We take pictures of stuff and count it automatically using computer vision and deep learning, eliminating the need for manual counting. Prior to Countifi he was as a General Manager at Delta Air Lines holding various management positions. Prior to joining Delta, David worked at EY for seven years, holding positions in the external financial, internal audit and consulting divisions in the Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA offices. David earned his Bachelors and a Masters degree in Accounting from North Carolina State University and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Derrick L. Miles
CourMed is an healthcare enterprise software that also facilitates innovative delivery of healthcare products.Derrick L. Miles
Derrick Miles is Founder/Chief Executive Officer at CourMed®
In addition, Miles is Chairman + Founder of TMB Equity Partners (executive team are former healthcare executives with 15+ years of experience); a boutique firm focused on investing/developing innovative healthcare solutions that achieve a liquidity event within five years.
Derrick is also a multiple patented inventor.
Mr. Miles received both an MSHA (#1 Program in the country) and MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He also holds a BS in Medical Technology (minor in Chemistry) from Bethune-Cookman University. Miles received a certificate in Lean Healthcare from the University of Michigan and is enrolled at Stanford University working towards a professional certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Derrick is married with two sons; his family lives in Collin County, TX.
Courtroom5 is an automated legal toolbox for people in court without a lawyer.Sonja Ebron
Dr. Sonja Ebron is CEO and cofounder at Courtroom5. She is a Durham, NC native and electrical engineer. She lives in Durham with Dr. Debra Slone, Courtroom5’s cofounder and Chief Product Officer.
Cyber Pop-up connects businesses to on-demand cybersecurity services powered by an army of vetted and highly skilled freelancers.Christine Izuakor
Dr. Christine Izuakor is the Founder and CEO of Cyber Pop-up. She has over a decade of experience leading cybersecurity functions within Fortune 100 companies and teaches graduate-level cyber security courses. Christine earned a Ph.D. in Security Engineering, becoming the youngest student and first African American woman to do so. Her rapid growth in the technology industry landed her spots on numerous change-makers lists, including Business Crain's Tech 50 List and the Crains 20 in their 20s List. She has also been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Cheddar News, Hemispheres Magazine, MyStart TV, and more.
Deepr® is a product suite that is reimagining music data for creators, consumers, and content providers.Austin Webster
Austin Webster grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, a city where music is not only embedded in the local culture but also heavily influenced the soundtrack to American life. It was his passion for music — and a 2016 experience in which he unexpectedly discovered a great song that was produced by two of his favorite producers — that inspired the idea that would ultimately become the genesis of Deepr®.
A graduate of SCAD (BFA Industrial Design '06), Austin has over 14 years of practical experience in the fields of industrial design and product/software development working with teams both domestically and internationally to deliver products to Fortune 500 retailers. He leans on that experience daily to bring a robust design and product-focused approach in leading Deepr® as Founder & CEO.
Edifius offers mid-sized businesses operating internal call centers a web platform to build and deploy AI conversational voice agents for customer service interactions.Perla Humphrey
Perla Humphrey is Co-founder & CEO of Edifius.
Humphrey is a founder of two companies. In addition to founding Edifius with her son, Adrian Humphrey (Co-founder & CTO), she is the Founder & CEO of FondLily, an estate planning web application that offers a modern approach to asset distribution to loved ones.
She received her MBA from Atlanta Unversity. She also holds a BS in Computer Science Engineering from Michigan State Unversity, and is Project Management Professional (PMP) certified and Agile Certified Professional (ACP) certified by Project Management Institute (PMI).
She is also the proud mother of two children.
Five to Nine
Five to Nine is a workplace event program discovery, management, and evaluation software.Jasmine Shells
Jasmine is the Co-Founder & CEO of Five to Nine, an award-winning VC-backed HR Tech startup that’s influencing the future of work. Less than 10% of companies know the ROI behind their employee programming and her team is working to close that gap. Five to Nine allows companies to better manage and evaluate their employee engagement programs. Five to Nine has been invested in by top VCs such as Kapor Capital and by financial institutions like Morgan Stanley.
Jasmine is a graduate from the University of Notre Dame and MBA candidate at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business where she is an inaugural recipient of the Entrepreneurial Scholars scholarship. In her spare time, Jasmine loves to salsa dance and encourage others to take the leap into their five-to-nines. Jasmine has been featured in Vice, Business Insider, TEDx, Black Enterprise, Yahoo Finance, Marketwatch and others.
Florence is a labor and accredited, degree granting education platform for the healthcare professionals.Dante Tolbert
Dante is Founder and Chief Executive Officer for Florence Technologies, mobile-first, degree granting educational marketplace for healthcare. Previously, he served as a cofounder for Worksite Labs, a national laboratory platform responding to the COVD-19 crisis, helping grow to national scale and eight figure revenue in a single year. He also served as founder and CEO of Cerebro, a venture backed labor marketplace for healthcare. He previously held increasingly responsible positions at CommonSpirit Health, NorthBay Healthcare and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Dante holds a bachelor’s in Molecular Biology from Claremont McKenna College, master's degrees in Epidemiology/Biostatistics and Health Administration from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Price School of Public Policy. He also completed coursework towards a doctorate in health economics.
Freeman Capital is an investment app that provides a hyper-personalized wealth journey that simplifies comprehensive wealth management into a monthly subscription service.Calvin Williams
Calvin F. Williams, Jr. is the first black owner of an automated wealth management platform for retail customers. As the CEO and founder of FreemanCapital.co he aims to empower millennials and the middle class with the tools to become wealthy. Williams’ years of financial service experience along with lessons inspired by his great-grandparents ignited the inception of FreemanCapital.co. They knew they couldn’t get ahead from saving alone, their money had to work harder for them, so they used their savings and purchased property in Washington, DC. before it was acceptable by people of color in the 1950s. Freeman Capital is for all hardworking people looking for a better future. Freeman Capital has completed programming at Google for Startups, Greensboro’s Launch Program, and Charlotte’s City Startup Lab’s program where the company won ’Best Technology Platform. The NC Idea Foundation awarded the platform a $50,000 seed grant and another $5,000 grant to seek investments through crowdfunding. FreemanCapital.co was also invited to be one of six companies to participate in the Capital Connects Venture event sponsored by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce. Since age 12, Williams has had an entrepreneurial spirit starting his first business venture, a lawn care service. As a freshman at North Carolina Agricultural & State University, Williams began designing websites for non-profit organizations. After graduation, he started XMG Web Designs and built websites and web applications for numerous types of organizations over 9 years. During that time he was named the youngest 40 Leaders Under 40 by the Greensboro Business Journal and the Bryan School of Business at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
GoLogic empowers small businesses to sell more faster.Patrice Darby
Patrice Darby Neely is a second generation serial entrepreneur, a black woman in tech, and a small business advocate. She’s the founder and CEO of GoLogic Solutions, an all-in-one economic development and data aggregation platform that helps entrepreneurs build their dream business and business support organizations expand their capacity and create philanthropic allies. Patrice leads an exceptional team dedicated to being the vehicle for accelerating economic growth and impact for all.
Accomplishments include the winner of the UPS Pitch Competition with Marcus Lemonis, Invest Chicago Women’s Innovation Award, Top 100 finalist for the 2017 Chicago Innovation Awards, Techstars 2020, and backed by Google. She’s also the first African American woman elected to the Small Business Advocacy Council of IL Board of Directors. Patrice spends her free time with her growing family, and operates as an Entrepreneur In Residence to the next generation of entrepreneurs at Northwestern University.
Goodr empowers business and communities through with technology to reduce food waste and end hunger.Jasmine Crowe
Compassionate, zealous, visionary and inspiring are just a few of the words that describe Jasmine Crowe, an HBCU alumna who is working to make the world a better place. Deeply rooted in service Jasmine launched her first company BCG in 2011. Through BCG she partnered with celebrities across the nation in a host of cause campaigns to ensure their star-power was being used for good.
In January of 2017, she launched Goodr, a sustainable food surplus management company that leverages technology to combat hunger and reduce waste. Today Goodr redirects surplus food from convention centers, airports, and businesses to people who are food insecure. Under Jasmine's direction, the company now has clients that include: Turner Broadcasting Systems, Hartsfield- Jackson International Airport, the Georgia World Congress Center and more.
She has been featured in Huffington Post, Fast Company on The HARRY Show, NPR, Upworthy, NBC, Black Enterprise, Amy Poehler's Smart Girls and featured as a Hero of Hunger in a Brawny Paper Towels commercial.
Jasmine recently gave her first TED Talk "Hunger is not a Scarcity Issues, it's a Logistics Issue." She also wrote her first children's book series titled "Giving is Good" which teaches youth the importance of giving back thru a variety of causes. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with friends and family.
Healthy Hip Hop
Healthy Hip Hop infuses cutting-edge technology, education and positive attributes within the hip-hop culture to improve learning environments.Roy Scott
Roy Scott is CEO of Healthy Hip Hop Inc., transforming a generation through infusing hip-hop culture with innovative technology, education and positive attributes. Roy is a battle tested and driven entrepreneur who has a wide range of experience from pitching on Shark Tank to securing over $300K in non-dilutive grants to build a tech company from scratch.
HUED is a technology enabled platform that diversifies the patient-physician experience by connecting Black and Latino patients with culturally competent healthcare providers that specifically understand their physical, mental and cultural needs.Kimberly Wilson
Kimberly Wilson is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of HUED. HUED is a healthcare engagement solution tailored to address the needs of Black and Latino populations.
Starting her career at the intersection of social justice, media and technology, Kimberly ventured into healthcare technology following a personal health experience.
In 2018, she started HUED and has been featured in various publications including Forbes, CNBC, NBC News Allure, ESSENCE, Black Enterprise and more.
Prior to founding HUED, she created and curated content across print, linear and digital platforms for major media outlets and consumer brands.
Infiltron Software Suite
Infiltron’s solution empowers everyone to proactively secure their data and devices in real-time beyond the edge.Chasity Wright
Chasity Wright is an experienced professional with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Serving in the United States Air Force, she emerged in Technology, Telecommunications, and Aerospace. Skilled in System Engineering, Technical Management, Cybersecurity, AI, Blockchain, Machine Learning, Smart Ecosystems, and IoT security. Chasity is a strong business development professional with a Bachelor’s of Technology degree in Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance from Middle Georgia State University and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Cyber Policy and Security from Stanford University.
Jax Rideshare Rentals
Jax is creating inclusion in the gig economy by renting cars to car-less people and empowering them to make money through gig work.Julius Bryant
He grew his entrepreneurial legs early. As an adolescent, he dabbled in everything from shoveling snow, to selling Nextel ringtones, to flipping custom apparel. Julius knew the value of a dollar and the payoff of exploiting a market through creative thinking.
Beginning his college education majoring in entrepreneurship, Julius had an epiphany one day that spending the next four years paying tuition to be taught about what he’d been doing his whole life may not have been the best investment. But learning how to master data, and use it to speak to his customers might be. Educated in the fields of marketing and analytics by the award-winning faculty at Central Michigan University and Emory University's Goizueta Business School, Julius has developed defined skill sets focused on marketing, digital media & data, and aesthetic.
In his career up this point, Julius has added value in functional capacities including consumer marketing, analytics, content creation, and user engagement for some of the world’s most renowned companies and recognizable brands such as GE, The National Basketball Association, Red Bull, and Amazon.
Julius decided to depart from corporate America, make his side-hustle his main-hustle, and embark on his entrepreneurial journey full-time. He is currently building his company, Jax, which rents vehicles to Uber and Lyft drivers in metro Atlanta.
Juno is a a one-stop solution for you and your family’s day-to-day care needs that features exceptional hospitality, modern technology, and transparent prices that won’t break the bank.
Juno brings the best of high-quality pediatrics, adult primary care, women’s health, and same-day care under one roof — with labs, x-ray, and ultrasound also on-site.Akili Hinson
Akili Hinson is a physician entrepreneur on a mission to create a healthier world. He is the Founder & CEO of Juno Medical, a tech-enabled medical practice that delivers exceptional hospitality, modern technology, and transparent prices that won’t break the bank for the whole family. Prior to founding Juno, Akili worked at McKinsey & Company within their healthcare practice where he focused on payment innovation, value-based care delivery, and digital transformation. He is a physician by training and received a B.A. from Georgetown University, an M.D. from Cornell University, and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School. Akili advises several venture-backed healthcare startups and is passionate about improving health outcomes in overlooked communities, the intersection of healthcare and culture, and placemaking.
Just Add Honey inc
Just Add Honey provides unique tea experiences to be shared amongst friends, or during quiet moments in the comfort of your home or our tea house.Jermail Shelton
Jermail Shelton is a relationship driven development officer, whose primary focus is on establishing and maintaining long-term strategic partnerships. With an eye for intentionality and refining operational processes, Jermail has led the team at Just Add Honey through a transformation to integrate retail and eCommerce operations into a single profit center. Along with his wife Brandi, he is the co-owner of Just Add Honey, a growing tea company in the heart of Atlanta, with far-reaching appeal.
While staying healthy and fit has always been important, it wasn’t until Jermail met Brandi that he had any interest in tea, its production or consumption. After making her his life partner, Jermail partnered with Brandi in business and continued down the road of entrepreneurship. A firm believer in you get out what you put in, Jermail quit his full-time job to dedicate his sales and development expertise to the growth of the business.
As a result of their dedication and drive, Just Add Honey has blossomed into a thriving business and has weathered the storm in a climate where similar businesses have scaled back or disappeared altogether. As Chief Development Officer, Jermail’s daily goal is to expand brand awareness and promote the company’s mission to bring thoughtfully blended teas to your doorstep.
Kanarys is a SaaS platform that provides clear metrics to diagnose, benchmark and optimize diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.Mandy Price
Mandy Price (she/her/hers) is an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as the CEO and co-founder of Kanarys, Inc., a technology startup that takes a holistic approach to solving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) challenges enabling companies to immediately take action towards systemic change. Kanarys uses a data-based approach to pinpoint what companies may not have been able to see before so DEI strategies and interventions are precise, measurable and result in lasting transformation.
Mandy left her career as a Harvard-educated attorney to co-found Kanarys, a DEI tech platform that fosters collaboration between companies and employees on DEI in the workplace. Mandy regularly speaks at notable DEI, tech, and leadership conferences and has been featured by outlets like Good Morning America, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TechCrunch, Business Insider, and more. Her interest in DEI began early in her career when she helped create the division of diversity and community engagement at the University of Texas at Austin as an undergrad. Mandy earned her Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. She resides in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and two children.
Knac is a SAAS recruiting platform that makes it easier for companies to screen and manage applicants in their pipeline. We help people not get ghosted. :)Ariel Lopez
Ariel Lopez is a career coach, entrepreneur, and public speaker with an expertise in digital media and technology. She is the Founder and CEO of Knac, a platform that provides recruiters with a more efficient tool for screening applicants, managing their pipeline, and ensuring they don't miss out on great talent.
With almost a decade of recruiting experience, she's had the privilege to help some of the biggest brands in the world build great teams.
Ariel has worked with thousands of marketing, advertising, and tech professionals to help them grow in their careers and find lucrative opportunities. She has also been featured in publications like Forbes, FastCompany, Refinery29, BusinessInsider and others to share my advice.
Ariel is passionate about the future of work and making the job search more humane.
Kommute is a way to communicate remotely through instantly shareable videos.Don Charlton
Don is an entrepreneur, startup evangelist, writer and public speaker. He is currently the founder and CEO of Kommute, the first video messaging platform for businesses.
Don also founded JazzHR (formerly The Resumator) in 2009, and established the company as a venture-backed leader in SMB-focused, SaaS recruiting technology, now serving over 7,000 SMBs recruiting for 100,000 jobs. The Resumator was the first widely-adopted startup recruiting solution in Silicon Valley, with a customer list that, over time, has included many big brand tech startups at their launch/early/relaunch stage, such as Instagram, Dropbox, Evernote, Tumblr, Uber, HubSpot, Warby Parker, Barack Obama for America and more. The company was acquired in 2021 for $180 million.
A graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, Don has been profiled in The New York Times and Black Enterprise, was a Regional Finalist for the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Competition and Business Insider named him as one of the 25 Most Influential African-Americans in Technology.
Don is proudly from Pittsburgh, PA but lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Laine London is a first-of-its-kind bridal shop upending the wedding dress experience by providing chic, high-end wedding dresses for rent vs. purchase.Lundyn Carter
Lundyn Carter is the CEO & co-founder of Laine London, a first-of-its-kind bridal shop upending the wedding dress experience by providing chic, high-end wedding dresses for rent vs. purchase. Under Lundyn’s leadership, Laine London has secured partnerships and capital from companies such as Google, Facebook, Verizon, American Express and SAP. Lundyn began her unique path towards entrepreneurship at Flagler College, earning her BA in both Political Science & Communications in 2006. She earned her MBA from Emory University with a dual concentration in Business Leadership & Strategy in 2017. Lundyn enjoys cooking, traveling with her husband, listening to live music and relaxing with a good book (preferably on a beach!).
Latched and Hooked Beauty
Latched and Hooked Beauty improves the time Black women spend on styling their hair with the use of ready-to-wear, non-toxic, synthetic hair extensions.Tiffini Gatlin
Tiffini Gatlin is a former corporate bank executive turned entrepreneur and digital influencer. She has successfully launched and created several digital brands, including Atlanta Tastemaker Magazine. In 2015, she became a pioneer in the hair and beauty industry after turning her side hustle into the first patent-pending process of pre-curled and looped synthetic hair after growing concerned that she may burn her clients while rolling and dipping the hair in boiling water. Within one year and through strategic social media engagement, she built a million-dollar e-commerce beauty brand; Curlkalon Hair Collection. Today, Tiffini has expanded her vision for creating safe and affordable synthetic hair extensions with the launch of Latched & Hooked, a lifestyle and beauty brand that offers textured synthetic hair extensions and hair care products. Tiffini resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and four children.
Laundris is an autonomous supply chain management platform. We optimize and streamline top two expenses labor and linens (and other trackable items) for customers such as hoteliers, health care, and food operations. Our patented software provides data in real-time. As a result we reduce expenses and operating costs by up to 40%.Don Ward
Don Ward is Founder & CEO of Laundris Corporation based in Austin, Texas. Prior to founding Laundris, Don was a former Tech Sales executive skilled in generating revenue for software companies. He built his career working at companies such as McAfee, VMware, IBM, and Microsoft. Don’s role at IBM and Microsoft was to discuss new and emerging technologies which inspired him to pursue the business of digital transformation.
He resides in Austin Texas and graduated from the University of North Texas with a BS in Engineering Technology. Aside from being recognized by Google as one of the top 30 Black founders in America to watch in 2021, he was also recognized by the Austin Business Journal as one of the top 21 Entrepreneurs to watch for 2021.
Don is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and 100 Black Men of America.
LifeWeb 360 is a digital space that helps friends & family use the sparkle of technology to collaboratively honor and storytell the life of a loved one who has passed.Rachele Louis
Rachele Louis is COO and co-founder of LifeWeb 360, a digital space that helps friends & family use the sparkle of technology to collaboratively honor and storytell the life of a loved one who has passed. She is a self-proclaimed introvert and tinkerer who believes in creating new everyday experiences that uncover the existing connections and empathy within our communities. She has a design & architecture degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management with a concentration in Finance. Originally hailing from Brooklyn, NY, she currently resides in Chicago with her wife and their plant babies.
LoanWell is an automated loan origination platform for community banks, credit unions, CDFIs and loan funds with end-to-end functionality for intake, underwriting, closing, servicing, and reporting.Bernard Worthy
Bernard Worthy, Co-Founder and CEO/CTO of LoanWell, brings proven success in management, sales, and executive talent acquisition. Bernard has a strong design and software engineering products background ranging from Fortune 100 companies like Forbes and Visa to cutting-edge organizations like Moogfest. He has designed and engineered mobile, web, and virtual reality applications for thousands of users. He has led and been part of multiple startups over the last decade.
LVNGbook provides customizable cookbooks for chronic conditions.Shaun Chavis
Shaun Chavis started LVNGbook after a friend was diagnosed with a condition that required her to change how she eats. A doctor gave her a long, random list of foods she couldn’t eat anymore. Overwhelmed, her friend reached out for help figuring out what she could eat. Shaun could relate. She's had the same experience of finding it hard to turn her doctor’s list into every day meals that fit her life. And she's a cookbook editor with a culinary degree! Later, she interviewed over 100 people and discovered 7 out of 10 also feel stressed and overwhelmed by lists and meal plans from doctors and hospitals.
LVNGbook’s mission is to help people feel more confident about making a healthy lifestyle change in ways that fit who they are. Their tools combine good food, nutrition, behavioral science, culture, and technology.
Make Music Count
Make Music Count is a math curriculum and app taught through playing popular songs on the piano.Marcus Blackwell
Marcus Blackwell is the CEO and Founder of Make Music Count, a math curriculum taught through music. He received a B.S in mathematics from Morehouse college and has played professional gospel piano since the age of 16. Marcus dedicates his energy to developing creative curriculum for students to embrace learning. Through its culturally relevant approach, Make Music Count connects the dots where the traditional methods of teaching fall short. Marcus believes that students will reach their full educational potential once curriculum reflects their identity and experiences.
MantisEDU, Inc provides immersive high tech learning activities for students.Laron Walker
Laron Walker, M.S. is a technology entrepreneur who graduated summa cum laude from Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Later, he enrolled in Purdue University where he obtained his Masters of Science in the same area. As an authority in web technologies, Laron has been instrumental in architecting and developing leading education platforms, tools and programs that effortlessly deliver relevant content to those that truly need access.
Laron Walker spends a tremendous amount of his time evangelizing STEM education with schools and organizations focused on kids and their academic development. He works to ensure that education is open, accessible, and affordable to all. As the CEO of MantisEDU, Inc, Laron is developing programs that teach kids workforce relevant skills by creatively blending computer science and hands on learning in relevant and practical applications. As a result, kids are being exposed to concepts such as machine learning, data science, big data and application development via interactive lessons and activities very early in their education journey.
Mar Dat assists C-suite clients in digital marketing strategies, business data optimization, and digital transformation with a focus on people, process, and enabling technologies.Love Hudson-Maggio
Love Hudson-Maggio is a highly accomplished, forward-thinking business leader and change agent with an exemplary record of success maximizing ROI for Fortune 500 clients via innovative data strategies and outstanding customer service. With demonstrated technology and data governance expertise, Love has delivered invaluable knowledge and advice to C-suite executives and key decision makers that generates millions of dollars of increased revenue. Recognized for her keen ability to translate complex product information while steadfastly reacting to changing environments, she devises and executes long-term, sustainable, scalable solutions.
MedHaul is a tech-enabled marketplace that makes it easy to find and book transportation for people with special needs.Erica Plybeah
Erica is a clinical informatics consultant turned technology entrepreneur with over a decade of experience developing and implementing technology solutions for some of the biggest names in healthcare such as Epic Systems, Cerner, Google Ventures-backed Flatiron Health, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
After working within multiple health systems and noticing the various social barriers that exist, she founded MedHaul, an end-to-end platform for scheduling special needs transportation. To date, Erica and MedHaul have been recognized by Forbes, FierceHealthcare and Essence, and MedHaul has been backed by Morgan Stanley, Citi, Silicon Valley Social Venture Circle, innova Memphis, Outlander Labs and several others.
Erica is a native of Greenwood, Mississippi and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a Pre-Med concentration.
Erica continuously strives to improve patient outcomes in poor and rural communities.
MindRight Health provides mental health coaching over text message to empower underserved communities to heal from trauma.Ashley Edwards
Ashley Edwards is Founder and CEO of MindRight Health. In 2020, Ashley became the 1st Black female founder to raise over $1 million in venture capital in New Jersey. She is a Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur and before MindRight, she served as Director of Operations of a high school in Newark, NJ. Ashley graduated from Yale College and holds a MBA & MA in Education from Stanford University, where she was a recipient of the Miller Social Change Leadership Award.
Music Tech Works
Music Tech Works helps television/film, advertising, video game, and podcast production companies quickly figure out who owns the rights to the commercial music they want to use in their productions.Jarrett Hines
Jarrett Hines is the co-founder and CEO Music Tech Works, which creates insanely simple tools to facilitate synch music licensing. Hines comes from a musical background with almost all members of family singing or playing an instrument. However, he chose to pursue business first, with an BA in Economics from the University of Maryland, and MBA in Entertainment, Strategy and Entrepreneurship from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Over the past 20 years, his career included major label artist management, media and entertainment consulting at Accenture, and establishing the Product Management department in the Atlanta office of the global design firm HUGE. Gaining experience in negotiating complex deals and working with artists opened his eyes to all the opportunities that applying technology to the business of entertainment could create. He currently lives in Atlanta with his family.
Musicbuk is a music education marketplace that allows people to book virtual music lessons with world-class instructors.DuMarkus Davis
DuMarkus Davis is a violinist and entrepreneur. He is a 2013 Gates Millennium Scholar and 2018 San Francisco Conservatory of Music grad. His company MusicBuk was awarded funding by Google and accelerated through Techstars. It works by giving students access to vetted musicians for one-on-one virtual music lessons. At The San Francisco Conservatory, Davis served as the first Black student body chairman. He's played at Carnegie Hall and guest lectured at Stanford.
MyTAASK Technology, Inc.
MyTAASK automates time-consuming tasks and fosters a community of people to seek and exchange knowledge.Thkisha Sanogo
Thkisha Sanogo (DeDe) is the Founder & CEO of MyTAASK Technology, Inc. which is an open source planning solutions for busy professionals and moms and the host of the Gurldede Podcast sharing what it’s really like when you make the sacrifice to follow your dreams and build a business with a family at the same time.
DeDe received her Master of Project Management / Public Administration from the Kellogg School of Management and her Bachelor of Business Administration from Georgia Southwestern State University. She is also certified in both project management and change management and an expert in personality profile facilitation. In 2021, DeDe was a nominee of the Focus WC 40 over 40 award for her contributions in technology. By day, DeDe is a Change Manager /Executive Coach at Airbus Americas’ Mobile Final Assembly Line. DeDe has been a member of the Mobile Chapter of Jack & Jill since 2017 and is currently serving her second term as Chapter Historian. She is also an active and financial member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s Baldwin County Chapter. She is married to her college sweetheart Abdoul Sanogo and they have 3 children: Khalil, Ayallah, and Sanai. She loves all things outdoors and photography.
Nivelo reduces digital payments risk in real time; ensuring everyone has access to fast and secure money movement over the internet.Eli Polanco
Eli is the Founder and CEO of Nivelo and Board Member of Tech:NYC. Beforehand, she has 10 years experience working at J.P. Morgan Chase as an Investment Banking Analyst, then growing into her role as Executive Director - Head of Banking Product at Blockchain Center of Excellence where she led blockchain technical product strategy and development for J.P. Morgan’s Banking unit, led pilot initiatives with government organizations, startups and established financial institutions. She also launched the Interbank Information Network (the largest interbank blockchain product in prod), and defined strategy and execution for new products across the Banking production portfolio including: payments, stablecoins, liquidity management, central bank digital assets and supply chain financing.
Optimal Technology Corporation
Optimal Tech helps clients get the smartest and most efficient power solutions.Reginald Parker
Dr. Reginald Parker is Founder of Optimal Technology Corporation. Dr. Parker has more than 25 years of experience in technology design and management. He has developed 15+ clean energy and manufacturing technologies including several that are patented or patent pending. He commercialized $60+ million in new products at Rohm and Hass (now Dow). Dr. Parker developed over 30+ renewable energy power projects globally.
A former university professor at Morehouse, FAMU, FSU, and UND for 8 years, Dr. Parker has distinguished himself as a thought leader in business, engineering, and commercialization. Dr. Parker graduated one Ph.D. and four MS students, managed a 14-person research group, was a co-PI on a $2.5 million IDIQ research contract with the Army Research Laboratory, and received several awards for his work as an academician.
Origyn is a community-based market tool connecting shoppers to products from community-based businesses.Davion Ziere
Davion Ziere is a global citizen focused on embodying the world we wish to live in. Zai is an artist, serial post-growth entrepreneur, writer and space facilitator cultivating visions and systems that value and respect all forms of life. He is the eldest of 9 siblings and loves his family, community, travel and exploring all that we don't know. His former accolades include being recognized by the State of Georgia for substantial economic development work in communities of color, becoming the #1 sales leader in North America for TESLA, writing legislation for the U.S. House of Representatives, crafting curriculum for national non-profits such as the Children's Defense Fund, consulting Top 20 U.S. Universities on how to build community around creativity and innovation, and more.
Pharaoh's Conclave prepares youth for eSports careers.Jakita Thomas
Jakita O. Thomas, Ph.D., is the co-founder of Pharaoh's Conclave (PCX), a company that prepares youth for esports careers. Dr. Thomas is also a Philpott Westpoint Stevens Associate Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Auburn University in Auburn, AL, Director of the CUltuRally & SOcially Relevent (CURSOR) Computing Lab.
Dr. Thomas received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer & Information Science with a minor in Mathematics from Spelman College in 1999. In 2006, Dr. Thomas was conferred a Ph.D. in Computer Science with a specialization in the Learning Sciences and Technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA.
Dr. Thomas is a recipient of the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award (2012 - 2019). She is also a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) (2016) for which she received a commendation from President Barack Obama. Dr. Thomas is also an active member of the Lambda Epsilon Omega Chapter of The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Polaris Genomics, the precision behavioral health company, is using the power of genomics and machine learning to advance the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders like PTSD.Charles Cathlin
Charles Cathlin is the a co-founder and CEO of Polaris Genomics (previously TruGenomix), a behavioral health company using the power of genomics to advance the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD. Charles is a U.S. military veteran with extensive leadership experience in the fields of medical technology, engineering, and public health. He retired from active duty in 2018 with 23 years of service between the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Public Health Service and earned decorations while deployed to the Middle East, Albania (Kosovo War), Mozambique, and New York City (ground zero) following the September 11th attacks. Charles’ experiences at ground zero compelled him to pivot his career to develop his expertise and experience in medical technology and mental health interventions.
Portrait Coffee is a specialty coffee company leveraging excellent product and hospitality to reimagine black representation in our industry.Aaron Fender
Aaron is the Co-Founder & CEO of Portrait Coffee, working to empower and equip Atlanta natives and residents with genuine career and life opportunities through the world of coffee. The name for Portrait Coffee comes from the desire to change the picture that comes to mind when folks think of specialty coffee.
After graduating from Kennesaw State University, Fender spent almost five years with Atlanta based coffee chain, Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co. There he held the positions of Barista, Lead Barista, and General Manager.
From there, Aaron held positions at Industrious and Bellhop as their Community Manager. For the past two years, he has been hard at work with his team at Portrait Coffee.
Possip gives organizations the pulse on their diverse and dispersed community using routine text-message based pulse checks in over 100 languages and our insights platform - starting with schools and districts.Shani Dowell
Shani is the founder and CEO of Possip. As a mom, a former public school Math teacher, and a strategy consultant - Shani knows firsthand the needs that schools have to hear from diverse families, as well as the power of the data and insights that can come from families and staff for schools and communities. Shani started her career as a consultant at Bain & Co. and helped launch the Boston office of the Posse Foundation. Shani earned her BA at Howard University in Washington, DC, and her MBA at Stanford University. In starting Possip, Shani seeks to strengthen schools, organizations and communities by elevating the ideas of those at the frontlines.
Productions.com is the job marketplace for productions that connects studios, music labels and corporate brands to vetted local crew.Carolyn Pitt
Carolyn Pitt is Founder and CEO of Productions.com, a job marketplace for production professionals that connects studios, music labels, and corporate brands to vetted local production talent.
The company advocates for production professionals of all backgrounds and is proud to help level the playing field for women and professionals of color, who are underrepresented in the entertainment industry.
Immediately prior to the passage of the CARES Act, Carolyn addressed the U.S. Senate and House Subcommittee for Small Business and Entrepreneurship to advocate for stimulus funding for the film industry and underrepresented founders. She also participated in two small business roundtables at the behest of the Biden-Harris campaign in October 2020.
Carolyn was recognized as a recipient of Google’s inaugural Black Founders Fund and was named 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year by Envolve Global.
Carolyn is an Intellectual Property and Entertainment Attorney with significant experience in Management Consulting, Strategy, and Business Development. She received her BS in Psychology from Vanderbilt University and her JD from American University’s Washington College of Law.
Qoins helps people save more money and pay off debt faster by automating their finances and providing financial education.Nate Washington
Nate Washington is the Chief Technology Officer of Qoins, a software that takes the spare change from user's everyday transactions and automatically pays off the user's student loans and credit card debt.
Graduting from Georgia State University, Washington founded two previous companies, Voyage and CodeLess Academy. Voyage connected drivers making long distance trips with empty seats with passengers who needed a ride. CodeLess taught its students how to build web and moblie apps without learning how to code.
Washington was previously featured in Forbes 30 Under 30.
Raxplay is an immersive music company enabling real-time live VR concerts.Isaac Lymon
Isaac Lymon is the co-founder and CEO of Raxplay with a mission to increase music artists' earning power. With a focus at the intersection of music and technology.
SecondKeys unlocks the true potential of proactive property maintenance.Amber Hayes
Amber Hayes is the Founder and CEO of SecondKeys, a technology company revolutionizing real estate management by bridging the gap between owners, tenants, and data. In addition to her experience in programming and building products, she holds degrees in electrical engineering and computer science. Amber has worked as a freelance programmer for a range of startups and as a contractor for apartment complexes before she created SecondKeys. Throughout her career, she has helped win numerous awards and accolades for her company. Throughout her career, she has dedicated her time to finding new solutions that promote a 21st century approach to the real estate industry.
Shared Harvest Fund
Shared Harvest | myCovidMD® provides residents with crisis resource in real time by real people.NanaEfua Afoh-Manin
Dr. NanaEfua B. Afoh-Manin is an emergency doctor, public health practitioner, entrepreneur, and a champion for health equity. Inspired by the charitable works of her immigrant mother, Dr. Nana embarked on a path of service. She first earned her Bachelor of Science at UCLA and went on to obtain her medical degree at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She then completed her residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she held the position of Research Chief. She completed her fellowship and Masters in Global Public Health & Disaster Medicine at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. After gaining the knowledge and experience to go where she was needed, Dr. Nana has dedicated her career to raising awareness about the social determinants of health in refugee, urban, and disaster settings. As a highly sought-after scholar, consultant, and humanitarian, Dr. Nana has both trained clinicians and field officers and been deployed during public health crises. She has worked to ensure the health of communities and the safety of medical professionals through Hurricane Katrina, the Ebola Pandemic, and many other humanitarian relief efforts across the US, Africa, and the Caribbean.
In helping to found Shared Harvest Fund, Dr. Nana has created a committed organization that works to combat socioeconomic disparities in healthcare through initiatives that advance holistic health outcomes for under-resourced communities globally.
Dr. Tye & Courtney Caldwell
ShearShare is the first ML-enabled mobile marketplace for stylists to manage and grow their small business on their terms, starting with space to work.Dr. Tye & Courtney Caldwell
Dr. Tye and Courtney Caldwell are the cofounders of ShearShare, the leading on-demand salon and barbershop space rental app. Recognized as tech visionaries and beauty industry pioneers, the Caldwells’ mission is to help fellow beauty and barbering professionals around the world maximize their earnings potential.
ShearShare is the leading space-as-a-service marketplace app that allows certified beauty and barbering professionals to rent empty space in beauty salons, barbershops, and spas by the day, week, or occasion in more than 850 cities. Over 30,000 independent professionals and salon owners are active on the ShearShare platform. ShearShare is based in McKinney, Texas, in the North Dallas area.
At SOIL, we are combining Cleantech and IoT to build products for on & off-grid consumers with the focus of bringing power and connectivity everywhere.Kenyon Hall
Kenyon Hall is the Founder & CEO of Soil, a company focused on developing products that bridge the gap to a sustainable future.
Prior to Soil, Hall worked at The Coca-Cola Company as a Senior and Principal Electronics Engineer focusing on new and innovative solutions for the Freestyle Machines.
Hall is a graduate from Johnson & Wales University with a BSEE in Electronics Engineering.
SPRAISE is vegan body care that creates moments of skin praise, and makes clean beauty accessible to all.Dominique Boseman
Dominique is the Founder & CEO of SPRAISE®. She is a thought leader in the areas of beauty, entrepreneurship and wellness. She is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law and is currently located in Atlanta, Ga.
Staat makes it super fast and easy for managers and their teams to have a unified, objective knowledge base to keep track and manage priorities and bottlenecks.Amanda Sabreah
Amanda Sabreah is the founder of Staat and Thought Factory. Amanda's mission is to tackle some of the world's most unique problems with extraordinary design and advanced technology. Her goal is to bring joy and make the lives of every day people easier.
Stimulus is a relationship intelligence SaaS platform that uses data and analytics to help companies make better purchasing decisions.Tiffanie Stanard
Tiffanie Stanard is a techie, creative, media personality/producer, and an award-winning entrepreneur with 15+ years of experience. Stanard has been named One of the 15 Women Changing the Face of Technology, Innovator of the Year, Visionary Leader to Watch, among many more honors. Tiffanie is the Founder/CEO of Stimulus, a relationship intelligence SaaS platform that uses data and analytics to help companies make better purchasing decisions. Stimulus is backed by amazing investors including Google for Startups, Juno Capital, Darco Capital, and more - growing with support from Microsoft and other great organizations. Stanard has been active in her community throughout the duration of her career by serving as an advisor or board member for several organizations including Philly Startup Leaders, PACT, City of Philadelphia (Office of Workforce Development), and PHL Diversity (Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau).
Rudy J. Ellis
Switchboard is a SaaS platform that expands the viewing audience of your live streaming content.Rudy J. Ellis
Rudiger J. Ellis, better known as Rudy, is the CEO of Switchboard Live; the developer of a B2B-SaaS based live video, social media management platform named Switchboard Cloud, that helps Creators, Producers, and Brands manage the distribution and syndication of their live video activations, across multiple streaming platforms (i.e. YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.) to improve audience reach and engagement.
In the past, Rudy has held various senior leadership positions within the network operations and live streaming services industries. For three years, he served as the Director of Streaming Services for NeuLion. After leaving NeuLion, he worked for XOS Digital where he was responsible for implementing and leading the Digital Broadcast and Live Services teams.
Tankee is a media company dedicated to helping parents protect their kids from inappropriate content while enabling kids to watch the gaming videos they love.Gerald Youngblood
Gerald Youngblood is the founder of Tankee, a media company enabling kids to enjoy gaming content they love. As a seasoned technology and gaming executive, Youngblood set out to develop an engaging, on-demand mobile entertainment platform for gaming content that keeps the fun and eliminates questionable content for kids.
Prior to Tankee, Youngblood was the Sr. Director of WW Marketing for AMD where he drove end-to-end marketing primarily focused on driving AMD’s PC technology. He led successful investments in esports and oversaw award-winning teams spanning four continents.
Toolbox is an on demand labor marketplace for skilled trade contractors.Wil Eyi
Wil Eyi arrived to the U.S. at age 16 from Gabon, Central West Africa, and worked blue-collar jobs in order to pay for college.
Since then, he's received Associate and Bachelor degrees from Grayson County College and Brigham Young University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Wil started his career in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs, and as an investor at Warburg Pincus. He is now CEO and co-founder of Toolbox. He also went through startup accelerator Y Combinator with Toolbox (YC S20).
Dr. Yared Alemu
TQ Intelligence leverages AI and Speech Emotion Recognition Technology to quantify and predict emotional distress severity for at risk kids.Dr. Yared Alemu
Dr. Yared Alemu is the Founder & CEO of TQ Intelligence, Inc.
TQI's solution brings communication and coordination in real-time with state-of-the-art voice-based algorithms and AI to augment the therapist’s subjective measurement of severity; the outcomes tracking brings enormous efficiency to care coordination between payer and therapist. In short, our voice biomarker technology helps providers augment inexperienced therapists with smart diagnostics and workflows. Clarity AI gets the data where it’s needed faster to improve quality at a lower cost so that everyone wins
TruDiary is an early stage digital health company that builds trust and strengthens communication between Black maternal patients and OB-GYNs by providing culturally relevant value based care, focusing on the specific needs of Black moms. Our goal is to change the narrative and make quality prenatal care accessible to all women, regardless of community or circumstance.Veronica Berry
Veronica Berry is founder & CEO of TruDiary, an early stage digital health company that builds trust and strengthens communication between Black maternal patients and OB-GYNs. As a seasoned technology executive, Berry set out to devlop a smart assistant that builds trust and confidence between patients and their doctors, streamlines the process for OB-GYNs to promote corrdinated care, and increases patient-provider engagement. Before starting her entrepreneurial journey, she graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, earning her bachelor’s degree in Communications and a Master of Public Policy from Clark Atlanta University. She continues to support UNO and Clark Atlanta, through donations to support student entrepreneurs.
U Scope Technologies
Our solution, PHOTO iD, streamlines the property inspection reporting lifecycle by automating the process of documenting the condition of a building structure or personal asset that may be damaged by utilizing voice recognition and AI technology through a virtual collaborative platform.Earl Randolph
Over the past 14 years, as the founder and CEO of U Scope Technologies, Earl Randolph, has been among the thousands of insurance adjusters caught in the wake of multiple hurricanes, tornadoes and disastrous floods that has affected the U.S. mainland. After experiencing firsthand how traumatic and stressful the overall long claim process was for homeowners and insurance adjusters due to the outdated systems and software being used, one thing became increasingly clear. The traditional methods of property inspections were inadequate and exasperating for everyone involved.
Ineffective tools and workflows led to inconsistent and incomplete data, resulting in ineffective analysis and an increasingly time-consuming process. Confident that there had to be a better way to conduct these inspections, Earl Randolph started U Scope Technologies in 2017 and began developing an inspection platform that would bring property inspections into the 21st century.
After years of research, development, and extensive product testing both internally and with insurance adjusters, property appraisers and contractors in the field, the U Scope team has turned their vision into reality. Our inspection platform now drives value to the risk assessment process across the globe by automating the documentation process of reporting the condition of a property with speed and ease.
Upskill VR is a virtual reality training platform that specializes in empowering people to save lives.Carla Bond
Carla Bond is the Founder and CEO of Upskill VR, a virtual reality training platform for emergency response and safety training. She is a US Navy Veteran and Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Virtual Reality Training professional with over a decade of demonstrated experience spanning Emergency Management, Education and Training, Emergency Medicine, Security, and Law enforcement fields within the military and public sectors. Carla is a sought-after leader for her expertise in virtual technology in Emergency Response training. She serves as an advisor for veteran-owned start-ups that focus on innovative products and services geared towards First Responders. She is currently a certified instructor with the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, FEMA, and Maryland Emergency Management Agency. Carla takes her passion for public service and safety to empower people with the necessary skills to save lives.
Uvii is a SaaS company providing a hybrid solution for in-person and remote communication in education and enterprise using patented single source technology enhancing virtual collaboration with real-time data analytics.Kimberly Gray
Kimberly is a proud mom, patent owner, and entrepreneur. Ms. Gray opened the first 3D/4D prenatal photography service in Harlem. Before Uvii, she worked in film and TV production for 40 Acres & A Mule, MTV, HBO Films, and her own production company 77 Films. Kimberly attended Howard University and is the daughter of two Washington DC Public School Principals. Her first TEDx Talk for TEDxHarlem on Juneteenth 2021 is called Actions Speak Louder Than Words: How Action Command Messaging (ACM) and video commenting can enhance our communication. She lives and works in Harlem, NY.
Varuna provides visibility, awareness, and insights to building and utility water to enable them deliver clean water consistently.Seyi Fabode
Seyi has more than 19 years of experience developing, deploying and investing in technology solutions for the utility industry. Prior to founding Varuna, Seyi spent several years consulting with the leading utilities in the US and in emerging markets on their technology strategy and product development. This came after founding, raising venture capital, hiring an amazing team for and eventually selling Power2Switch, the leading retail energy marketplace technology company. Prior to this, he worked in operations and software development for a 1000MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine Power Plant in London serving 500k residents of the city. Seyi has an MBA from the Booth School of Business at University of Chicago, and an MSc in Manufacturing Systems Engineering from Warwick University in the UK.
Vibe Ride is the most dynamic fitness studio and is adding its No Plateau program to bring boutique fitness to your living room through deliveries of workout equipment paired with virtual reality fitness classes from the world’s best trainers.Courtney Anderson
Courtney is the co-owner and co-founder of Vibe Ride. She took her first indoor cycling class in 2012 upon moving to Atlanta, and quickly realized there was a need to bring the city’s best instructors who play the best music to a boutique studio that was accessible to a diverse group of people, no matter their race, sexual preference, income level or fitness level. This is the philosophy of Vibe Ride, and Courtney is dedicated to creating a fun atmosphere where Vibe Riders feel supported and at home.
Viledge is a corporate gifting platform that revolutionizes team building through curated experience-kits sourced from Black-owned brands.Zuley Clarke
In 2020, when the IRL world shut down and the shop windows closed, Zuley Clarke founded Viledge to support Black-owned businesses through corporate gifting and live unboxing experiences. It takes a village to build a business, and Viledge is already home to 30 businesses, and still growing.
Before she started Viledge, Zuley worked in product strategy at tech and media companies like The Economist, AOL, and Shutterstock. She has an engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon and a masters from Georgia Tech. And while she may be Viledger #1, her Jr. Co-founder—her sweet 3-year-old daughter—is the uncontested Viledge celebrity.
Watch The Yard
Watch The Yard is a digital media company, and the largest online brand targeting Black college students and alumni. With a focus on news, videos, and delivering practical, culturally-authentic resources, the platform reaches over 11 million people every month.Jonathan Rabb
Jonathan Rabb is an expert on the mechanics of creating and cultivating engaged audiences around digital products and consults others on how to do the same.
Jonathan is founder of Watch The Yard, which has become one of the top online destinations for Black people in the United States, reaching a monthly niche audience of over 1 million college-educated African-Americans. Since launching in 2014, the brand quickly grew to become the premier voice for historically Black fraternities/sororities and the center of the Black college experience online. By launching a new website, WatchTheBands.com, Jonathan extended this influence over the Black college culture to the Black marching band sphere.
Previously, Jonathan worked in entertainment as a host for The CW, Radio Disney, and as a red carpet reporter in Hollywood. He is also a recipient of the Fulbright Grant and did extensive work in Berlin studying digital audience development.
Workform provides access to digital coworking spaces for the new way of work.Darren Buckner
Darren Buckner is a remote work advocate and the co-founder and CEO of Workform, a platform connecting mobile workers with alternative spaces in which to get work done. Workform is working to capture the world's workable spaces online and connect a new generation of professionals with resources needed to thrive outside an office. Prior to co-founding Workform in 2014, Buckner held a variety of positions, including serving as lead engineer and designer at Exavault, partner at Think Brilliant Media Studios, application developer at the NFL, and front end developer at Shopzilla. Buckner holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Portland State University.
Wrinkle Free Delivery
Wrinkle Free Laundry is a technology enabled laundry, linen & dry cleaning delivery service which is changing the way people do laundry.James Barnett
James Barnett saw an opportunity to innovate a long standing industry, laundry. Wrinkle Free Delivery is a premium mobile laundry, linen, and dry cleaning delivery service that is currently tailored towards residential and commercial customers in Atlanta.
ZeroStorefront is a customer acquisition and retention platform purpose-built for local businesses.Collin Wallace
Collin Wallace is a serial entrepreneur in the food & beverage space, and the CEO/Co-founder of ZeroStorefront (formerly Eatgeek). ZeroStorefront provides a text message marketing platform purpose-built for restaurants.
Prior to ZeroStorefront, Mr. Wallace was the Head of Innovation at GrubHub, where he is listed on multiple patents. He has built four companies; three were acquired by companies including EatClub, Amcobi, and GrubHub.
Mr. Wallace holds a B.S. in Engineering from Georgia Tech and an M.B.A from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is also a proud alum of the Harvard SVM Program, Techstars, and YCombinator. He is an avid investor and mentor to dozens of other startups, including PayJoy, Landed, Postcript.io, Skill-Lync, Taali, Hello Ava, Pearachute, Robinhood, Grab Taxi, Gigwage, and others. Today, he lives in San Mateo with his amazing wife Doris and puppies Aspen and Penny.
With our mission to drive global financial equity & inclusion, Zirtue empowers people to empower each other through relationship-based loans with bill pay transparency baked in.Dennis Cail
Growing up humble in Louisiana, Dennis Cail lived in low-income public housing and neighborhoods often surrounded by payday lenders and check cashing services; the same was true of the areas surrounding the naval bases he lived on after joining the navy. These experiences coupled with his passion to close the wealth gap across underserved and overlooked communities led him to create Zirtue as an economic inclusion hack for unbanked and underbanked people that provided them with access to fair and equitable trust-based loans. Zirtue was built on one simple premise, to give people a hand-up and not a hand-out from the people who know them best.