Profile 28 : Flora


Flora is an app and community with a big mission — to make mindfulness enjoyable and accessible for all. Through gamification, the app incentivizes greener habits and environmentally-friendly behavior as members earn coins that can be exchanged for rewards and prizes.

Founder Story Nugget

“R&B artist and now tech startup founder, Kehlani has been a very busy woman. Not only did she just announce her pregnancy, but today she is officially announcing the launch of her new app, Flora, an app that inspires young people to make positive changes in their lives.

Kehlani is joined by her co-founders, Reid Williams, COO, and Alaxic Smith, CTO and designer. They got the idea after the two started off with their own streaming service, where Kehlani conducted her first virtual release party. “We decided to come together and said hey, as a developer, a marketing strategist, communications guy and me, how could we do something that really benefits our generation,” stated Kehlani. That started the birth of Flora.”

~Black Enterprise, October 2018




Hotel-grade Turnovers for Airbnb. Homeaway. VRBO. FlipKey.

Neu, Inc. automates hotel-style cleans for Airbnb’s. As a SaaS-enabled marketplace, Neu provides busy property hosts and licensed, bonded cleaners with a hassle-free experience by supplying sheets, towels, and toiletries and coordinating service transactions between guest stays.

Neu serves as a dual marketplace for both host customers and cleaning service contractors, each in want of more business and revenue. Neu’s operations team makes sure that turnover happens promptly, with fresh linens and supplies brought by vetted cleaners to streamline the process of preparing a unit for a new guest by the next scheduled check-in time.

We’re excited to impact the lives and businesses of our customers through our product and we’re often taken back by how far we’ve come and with (extremely) limited resources.” ~Kwame, Rilwan, Claudius


Being First Customers.

Neu’s CEO Kwame Boler and COO Rilwan Lawal know first hand the headaches and costs of cleaning and flipping Airbnb vacation rentals for new guests.

As Airbnb Super hosts with full-time jobs, the biggest headache Kwame and Rilwan experienced was getting their properties promptly cleaned and reset between guest visits– without breaking their margins.

What started as an idea to solve their individual challenge as hosts quickly morphed into the bigger idea for the startup that became Neu.

Fifteen minutes after discussing how they might pool resources to organize some professional cleaners for their apartments, Kwame called Rilwan back and suggested they solve this problem for everyone in the same situation.

“That’s kind of how everything started and we began the long journey of trying to create a system to clean our properties.” ~Rilwan Lawal

Neu’s third co-founder, CTO Claudius Mbemba joined the team after being highly recommended through the founders’ extended professional networks.

The camaraderie, respect, and gratitude the founders have for each other and their areas of focus and expertise are audible as they share their stories. Good chemistry, a shared vision and a sense of humor, and shared intentions for creating a company culture that supports a global team make them a solid founding leadership trio.


Entrepreneurs in the Making: From Furniture to Chocolate to Coupon Books.

All of Neu’s three founders have early entrepreneurial experiences–thanks to how their parents modeled entrepreneurship, creativity, and persistence.

  • Rilwan attributes his drive to be an entrepreneur to his mother, “The Ultimate Entrepreneur” who designed chairs and furniture that she exported to Nigeria where friends and family lived, and Rilwan was given every opportunity to contribute and learn. 
  • Kwame’s entrepreneurial way of thinking was established in youth watching his father create opportunities and monetize memorable moments with something tangible (be it magnets, or air fresheners, or logoed items), and he recalled funding the purchase of his first computer by selling a lot of chocolate bars.
  • Claudius roped his siblings into a coupon book venture he produced in middle school after the annual school fundraising event. This developed his entrepreneurial passion – Neu is his third startup adventure since college.


Notable Neu Interview Highlights.

Neu began its startup journey in August of 2016 and has coordinated thousands of transactions between hosts and cleaners.

  • Neu’s secret sauce is the backpacks they supply to contracted cleaners, filled with replacement linens, towels, and toiletries for the host homes which removes the need to launder onsite. Therefore, getting properties ready for new guests happens that much quicker. (2:04)
  • Neu is presently focused on creating the technical infrastructure to scale the marketplace platform for future customers. Improving internal/external process flows, gathering customer feedback, repairing holes to scale aggressively and building a platform w/ a lean, agile dev team. (12:28)
  • Neu’s persistent fundraising efforts through accelerators has been a learning journey. (28:40)
  • Neu’s growing team, half of which is overseas and spans three time zones means more resources positively impacting company growth and development. (35:45)
  • Neu’s list of advisors, formal and otherwise is aplenty and indicative of their progress and potential. (41:33)
  • Neu’s advice to themselves and aspiring entrepreneurs. (43:55)
  • Kwame’s Recommended Reading: The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle


What are Neu’s co-founders most pleased/proud of so far?

Rilwan: Just how far we’ve come, from a simple idea and $3000 (and not knowing anything about this industry) to building a full-fledged business with 10 team members. Building an Engineering team in Nigeria!

Claudius: Growing the business from out of a garage to moving into an office space downtown!

Kwame: Overall, seeing our hard work pay off and in one instance, winning $50k through the ScaleUp!


Check out Neu’s most recent pitches!

Geek Wire Elevator Pitch Ep. 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTczFJitgY4

Y-Combinator – https://youtu.be/jE43HmhqDXM

Seattle Angel Conference XII 2017- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUo5FVJMK0Y


“We have a pretty good idea of when we’d feel confident to transcend Seattle.” ~Kwame Boler


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Stella Ashaolu, WeSolv, Working to Make Diversity Hiring Obsolete

WeSolv’s Golden Why: How can I prove I can perform, if I can’t get the job to perform?

If the goal of your organization is to hire both a diverse workforce that is full of talented, high-performing, creative problem solvers, WeSolv has a model and method to help accomplish that objective.

WeSolv’s Founder and CEO, Stella Ashaolu has been described as sharp, focused, and always intentional. She describes herself as having always been very curious, observant, eager to figure out how things work and solve problems; and willing to ask questions and ask for help, because as she recently told Founders Unfound,

“Closed mouths don’t get fed.”

As an African-American, female founder Stella emphasized, “It is important to ask and persevere never knowing what all might come out of the conversations had with people.”

WeSolv officially became a company in early 2016 and released its MVP (Minimum Viable Product) in 2017. In April 2018, WeSolv launched their beta version after participating in Geekwire’s Techstars program in Seattle — which is where Dan Kihanya first met Founder, Stella Ashaolu. Stella’s poise, intelligence, intentionality, and perseverance have enabled her to build WeSolv and establish their larger mission as a venture and as a recruitment platform advocating for performance-based hiring and diversity.

Continue reading “WeSolv’s Stella Ashaolu: Working to Make Diversity Hiring Obsolete”

Dear Founders,

As Founders Unfound’s Storytelling Co-founder, I am excited to write profiles about you and your awesome venture.

I look forward to understanding your leadership team, the company you created, the innovation and growth you’ve experienced, your traction, and the great revenue potential in your pipeline. 

 And, one additional request for a vivid reply to a talking point I care about deeply:

“What prompted you to start your venture?”

Of all the probing questions we ask our founders this one is my favorite because it honors your origin story, the “why” behind what you do.

It’s an emotional tether for a future customer, advisor, or investor.  I believe a founder’s story has an important role and is an essential element for sustained success when building a company from the ground up. Shared with confident candor, it adds depth and context for customers and investors and helps create champions.

Continue reading “Founding Stories & Peak Moments: Your Hero’s Journey as Entrepreneur.”