);

Profile 37 : WearWORKS

About

Based in New York, WearWorks is a haptics design company that designs products and experiences that deliver information through touch and vibration.

Their first product is a wearable haptic navigation device for the blind and visually impaired called WAYBAND. It guides users to an end-destination using only vibration. WAYBAND lets its users gain a sense of autonomy to explore new and unfamiliar environments.  Milestones for the company include: enabling a blind runner to complete the New York City Marathon and being a Fast Company Innovation by Design – Social Good finalist.

 

Founder Story Nugget

“Me and my two co-founders, we all walked into this [company] through different doors. My personal door was…I basically spent the previous year of my life trying to build this suit that you can download Kung fu into. And then the suit would teach you using vibration. So that was the door that showed me the opportunity of what haptics could do

…And so we realized we needed a language to communicate information through touch…that’s when we all came together and said, ok, let’s build out this product and let’s start it in a much simpler form of movement – navigation…”

~ from ZDNet Interview, by Tanya Hall, August 2019

 

 

Profile 36 : KÜDZOO

About

KÜDZOO offers a free mobile application that rewards students with deals, giveaways, scholarship opportunities, concert tickets, and once in a lifetime experiences based on students’ grades and achievements. KÜDZOO works together with schools and businesses to improve student engagement while bringing communities together with an educational focus.

Users earn “Küdzoo Cash” based on grades, grade improvement, and attendance, plus their answers to daily trivia and college-entrance-exam questions. They can use that “cash” to unlock discounts and deals on products and services.

Founder Story Nugget

“Chicago entrepreneur Trevor Wilkins remembers when his parents would give him $10 for an A and $5 for a B in high school. He used that as inspiration for a business.

…Wilkins, who’s based at the 1871 tech hub, said “Chicago is very near and dear to me. It’s so humbling to be able to influence people in a positive way, especially when there is so much negativity about Chicago Public Schools.”

In April, he received recognition for his work in Chicago Public Schools from the Jefferson Awards Foundation, which says it’s dedicated to recognizing local and national public service.”

~Excerpts from Chicago Tribune article, by Dong Jin Oh, May 2015

 

Profile 35 : QUARRIO

About

Led by repeat founder and United Nations Entrepreneur of the Year KG Charles-Harris, Quarrio provides a conversational interface that enables enterprises to get information from Salesforce in seconds. Sales teams have the power of instant knowledge and the IT teams get the freedom to stop wasting valuable time on ad-hoc reports. Customers can go beyond simply “searching” with a platform that lets them access and understand all their data by just naturally asking questions.

Founder Story Nugget

“…Securing funding from venture capital firms can be a difficult process for even the most qualified of minority and women entrepreneurs. For example, KG Charles-Harris, who is African-American and the CEO of two-year-old artificial intelligence startup Quarrio, has been working in tech for decades and has assembled a team of accomplished employees, many of whom hail from MIT and Stanford and have experience working for companies like Apple and Cisco.

Over phone calls and online demos, Charles-Harris was able to raise $200,000 from foreign investors, but after numerous in-person meetings with American venture capitalists (only one of which included an African-American), he has not been able to raise a cent in Silicon Valley. “If it’s difficult for me to raise money here with that kind of background, that kind of team and that kind of product, how difficult is it for other people?” Charles-Harris said.”

~Excerpts from IBM Times article, by Salvador Rodriguez , August 2015

 

Profile 34 : CARICLUB

About

Headquartered in New York, CariClub is an online platform positioned at the intersection of corporate citizenship and professional networking.

The company helps firms align with their millennial workforce and subsequently helps attract, retain and develop their next generation of leaders. CariClub does this by giving young professionals access to philanthropic leadership opportunities, specifically associate board positions with well-known nonprofits and foundations. Since its launch, CariClub has partnered with over 1,000 leading nonprofits and foundations in New York City and San Francisco to place young professionals on associate boards.  The company has plans for global expansion and is reimagining what it means to give back and get involved for the millennial generation.

Founder Story Nugget

“…While working at Citigroup as an interest-rate derivatives trader, his first job, Monrose joined the associate board of Row New York, a nonprofit that introduces underprivileged youth to the sport of rowing. “It changed the course of my life,” Monrose said. What clicked for him was how much his life improved by having more going on in it.

…What Monrose gets out of Cariclub is the chance to pay forward the assistance he received in his own life. He emigrated from St. Lucia to Harlem at age 12, when his mother, a nanny, was able to send for him and his sister.

…”I was supposed to become the doctor in my family,” he said. “But then I decided I would become a doctor to the economy.” “

~Excerpts from Crain’s New York article, by Jeanhee Kim, April 2019

 

Sky Kelley, Founder + CEO

Profile 33 : AVISARE

About

Avisare provides sourcing software for modern government agencies and the contractors and vendors who support them.

Avisare improves the process of finding, bidding and reporting on government contracts. 

Their “secret sauce” is to empower one, massive interconnected network full of contract opportunities for small business owners to grow revenue in their local economies.

Avisare’s software makes fairness and transparency for government agencies simple and, in turn, level the playing field for diverse businesses to compete for contracts.

 

Founder Story Nugget

“…That was certainly the experience of Sky Kelley, the founder of Avisare, a platform that matches small vendors with local government agency contracts.  “I’ve got three strikes against me. I am black, I am a woman and I am a solo founder. No one took me seriously,” Sky says.  She pursued a spot in the prestigious and competitive TechStars accelerator in Los Angeles as a way to get a stamp of “approval” from a network that had resources and relationships that invest in founders who want to scale their businesses.  Another major relationship that Sky credits with helping her business is with the City of Los Angeles, and especially Kecia Washington, the director of innovation and strategic partnerships for the city’s Department of Water and Power.  “Because Kecia Washington believed in me, she vouched for me with other city staff including the city’s new chief procurement officer.” Her advice to other entrepreneurs starting out? Find your Kecias.”

~Excerpt from Governing.com article, by Elizabeth Reynoso, December 2018

  • Alex Lofton, Co-Founder + Head of Growth
  • landed.com, @LandedHomes
  • Founded 2015
  • YCombinator, Comcast Ventures,
    Initialized Capital, Chan Zuckerberg

Profile 32 : LANDEd

About

Based in San Francisco, Landed helps essential professionals, starting with educators, achieve homeownership and build financial security near the communities they serve.  The company invests alongside educators when they are ready to buy a home in expensive markets like the Bay Area, Denver, Seattle, and Southern California. High land prices in these metros make it difficult for many individuals to become the long-term residents our communities depend on. Landed seeks to eventually expand to all those who uphold the communities: educators, healthcare workers, and first responders.

The company has raised over $US 11M.

Founder Story Nugget

“He [Lofton] comes to this from a foundation of family history and idealism, at least going by his Matchmakers interview with Webster. His mom was a teacher and his dad was a social worker, and while he recalled a positive, joyful family atmosphere, “money was always tight.”

Lofton maintained that memory into adulthood, as he helped to craft and build the idea for Landed. As well, he never lost sight of another ideal. “Every kid deserves a really great education – and many educators are running for the hills” given the high financial barriers to homeownership, which, of course, presents significant challenges for any teacher wanting to start his or her own family and to put down roots, or simply participate in the investment activity that is property ownership.

…“When you can provide 20 percent down, that makes you a more attractive buyer,” he said. That holds especially true for the market for homes priced close to an area average, a market that attracts fierce competition among buyers.”

~Excerpts from PYMNTS article, by Staff, April 2019

Profile 31 : MENTED

About

Headquartered in New York, Mented Cosmetics is a premium beauty line that believes every woman should be able to find herself in the world of beauty. Offering nude lipstick and nail polish shades made especially for Black and Brown women, Mented Cosmetics believes that when it comes to beauty, no one deserves to be an afterthought. All lipsticks are vegan, paraben-free, non-toxic and cruelty-free. 55

Founder Story Nugget

“One night over a glass of pinot, we sat down and asked ourselves why it was so hard to find the perfect nude lipstick. That conversation sparked an idea, and that idea became the brand we are building today. We created Mented Cosmetics because we believe every woman should be able to find herself in the world of beauty. We know you’ll love being put first – because when it comes to beauty, no one deserves to be an afterthought.”

~ Mented Cosmetics Website

 

 

Profile 30 : GirLs auto clinic

About

Girls Auto Clinic (GAC) is a woman-owned and operated business that caters to women. GAC offers automotive buying and repair resources, products, and services based on trust, education, inclusion, and empowerment. GAC’s services and products are for women and by women. With its repair center located outside of Philadephia, GAC offers more than repairs and maintenance. Customers can also experience education, trusted advice, and even be treated at the co-located spa while they wait for their cars.

Founder Story Nugget

” Banks is a self-described auto airhead hated all of her automotive buying and repair experiences. Frustrated with the lack of resources educating women on car care and her inability to find a female mechanic in the Philadelphia area, Patrice enrolled in automotive technology school to learn how to work on cars. Her mission with Girl Auto Clinic was to create a place she wanted to bring her car for repair and maintenance. She has since made it her mission to educate and empower women through their cars!

…The #sheCANic movement educates and empowers women through their cars. Patrice educates in a shame-free, relatable, and engaging way to women looking to learn practical information about their vehicles.”

~Excerpts from PatriceBanks.com

 

Profile 29 : 4D HEALTHWARE

About

Based in Chicago, 4D Healthware has built a platform to help keep track of patients with chronic conditions virtually, to aid them in care plan adherence,  and to promote the best lifestyle decisions for their health.

4D Healthware’s comprehensive, HIPAA compliant solution is a value-based care enabler with a patient-centered interaction and care plan approach for patients with multiple chronic conditions.

4D captures the patient’s most relevant health history and uploads real-time data from activity trackers, wireless scales and wearable biometric sensors, 24 hours a day. The platform uses this data to deliver care plan recommendations for each patient, which can be modified accordingly through a physician dashboard. 

Founder Story Nugget

“Aching from Crohn’s disease and chronic pain caused by the steel rod lodged in her spine–inserted to correct childhood scoliosis–Cunningham, then an IBM executive, wondered how she could patch over the between-treatment holes in her insurance. “I got a bottle of wine, sat on the couch with a friend, and talked about my vision of managing health from a smartphone,” says Cunningham. She imagined a preventative technology that could monitor and predict shifts in an individual’s health, “just like Tesla knows what’s going on with every vehicle.” “

~Excerpt from Inc Magazine article, by Inc. Staff, October 2018

 

 

Profile 28 : Flora

About

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