Podcast Transcript – Series One SPECIAL EPISODE II
REAL TALK WITH BLACK WOMEN FOUNDERS June 2020
[00:00:00] Cherae: [00:00:00] when people were asking me, how am I that I generally feel like the fire brain emoji,
[00:00:05]Stella: [00:00:05] But it’s a little bit difficult because there’s that whole angry black woman stereotype.
[00:00:11]Ashlee: [00:00:11] I’m seeing conversations happen in a way that I haven’t seen them happen as it relates to race and racism.
[00:00:17]Helen: [00:00:17] What can we do as black founders to make ourselves, available to each other, whether it’s time, talent, or treasure.
[00:00:27]Ashlee: [00:00:27] I’m the one black woman in the room with these people. How can I use this opportunity to make room for others who look like me?
[00:00:33]Helen: [00:00:33] It’s not only about writing a check. And is, do you also believe that black founders are capable of building and scaling companies?
[00:00:40]Cherae: [00:00:40] so there is this feeling like I don’t want to be that founder that’s like mama, I made it one, like I’m literally at the beginning of the journey.
[00:00:46]Helen: [00:00:46] to retraumatize ourselves and then to do that for free is wholly unacceptable.
[00:00:52]Stella: [00:00:52] we can be working on our own success so that we can be the funders of people who look like us in the future.
[00:00:59]Dan: [00:00:59] Hello, Unfound Nation. Dan Kihanya here, your host for Founders Unfound. Thanks so much for listening in. We’ve got another special episode for you today. Like last week, I’ve invited four black entrepreneurs to have an honest and open discussion against the backdrop of the events unfolding daily here in America.
[00:01:17] This time, however, we’re turning to the perspective of black women founders. And we’re lucky to have Dr. Ivor Horn as our special guest host.
[00:01:25]Dr. Horn is an MD former health tech executive, and she’s currently an angel investor and advisor for women of color in the digital health space. This is the second week of June, 2020, and we still face the COVID-19 pandemic and a bleak economy with historic unemployment and the protest for change continue around the country. Just as important though, conversations are starting to happen. Some are awkward. Some heated. And some are healing. But all are necessary. Again, we want to extend deep sympathies to the families of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud [00:02:00] Arbery and George Floyd. Finally, we want to encourage all of you to find a way to get involved. If you don’t know where to begin, we have some resources in the show notes as a great place to start.
[00:02:09] Our episode is sponsored by Valence, a great new community for black professionals. Just like last week, we won’t be running any ads. So be sure to check out the show notes for more information on the special offer Valence has for Founders Unfound listeners.
[00:02:23] Now on with our episode, stay safe, everyone.
[00:02:38] Ivor: [00:02:38] Well, hello everyone. My name is Ivor Horn and I am really honored today to be the guest host with this amazing group of women to talk about the times that we are in now over the last 15 days, we’ve seen our world turned upside down. And even before that really transformed. So we have global protests since the killing of George Floyd and real support across the globe for Black Lives Matter.
[00:03:08] this was all on top of a global pandemic. That changed the way that we move and interact and engage with each other in a real different way that none of us have experienced in our lifetime. But on top of that, we also have almost 2 million cases of COVID-19 in the U S alone, over a hundred thousand deaths from COVID-19 and.
[00:03:31] Our black and Brown communities are the most impacted without a doubt, very clear has brought to light the health inequities and health disparities in our country in a real and present way. So our lives have been upended in the last two weeks. And this is going into the third week. Over the last couple of weeks. I’d have to say last week people asked me, how are you feeling and how are you doing.
[00:03:56] And my typical response was I’m wavering [00:04:00] between exhausted and tired and tired is a good day. And this going into the third week, though, quite honestly, today on June 10th, I have to say today, I feel determined and that’s a whole new, that’s a whole new perspective of this.
[00:04:18] And I want to start out by asking you all, like, how are you doing today on June 10th with all of this?
[00:04:25]Stella: [00:04:25] This is Stella Ashaolu, the founder of a company called WeSolv that connects companies to diverse candidates and use performance data from real projects to help them reduce the bias in their hiring process. In thinking about how I’m doing today, it changes.
[00:04:42] And I used to say that just about being an entrepreneur, you know, that one second, you’re up and the next second you’re down, but in light of everything that’s going on, I think the amount of pressure and stress and just the emotional volatility that I’ve experienced has been something I’ve never experienced before in my life.
[00:05:02]I’ve gone from being. Super super sad to angry, to being tired or exhausted, to getting a little glimmer of hope or motivation. And I’ll say today, I feel determined. I still feel tired and stressed and like even more of.
[00:05:23] The weight of the world is on my shoulders right now than usual, but I have a glimmer of hope and determination as far as, you know, all of the different organizations that I’ve connected with and all of the different meetings.
[00:05:35] And, you know, I’m sure we’re all at being tasked in our respective spaces and. You know, there’s a part of me that wanted to just bow out and say, not today, this isn’t my fight, but then, you know, today I feel like, you know, I can do it. And I’ve had a number of these calls and we’ll continue to have them as long as I can, knowing that I need to take that space as well.
[00:05:56] Cherae: [00:05:56] This is Cherae Robinson, founder and CEO of Tastemakers [00:06:00] Africa. Tastemakers is a community and travel experiences platform that connects Africa and its diaspora. I think, I was talking on my own podcast last week and I said that like, when people were asking me, how am I that I generally feel like the fire brain emoji, like that was like how I felt.
[00:06:17] And I think if there was like a determined and aligned emoji, like that’s how I would feel now. I think. With the work that I’m doing, I am incredibly fortunate to like day over day. Feel like something I’m doing is actually a part of this 400 year old problem that the world is waking up to in a very real way.
[00:06:38] And I feel incredibly privileged to be in a space where people both in my community, but also people outside of the black community who are in my space as friends, as advisers. Mentors as investors are looking to me to have meaningful conversations and take meaningful action. And so as much as it was like very, very taxing. Initially, I think more than anything, I am. Excited about this shift. And I feel incredibly aligned in my interests, ability and passion towards moving things forward.
[00:07:20] So that’s how I’m feeling. Good
[00:07:22]Ashlee: [00:07:22] jump in next. I’m Ashlee, the founder of Health in Her Hue, where it’s a digital platform that connects black women to black and culturally competent healthcare providers.
[00:07:32] Have you asked me this question two weeks ago, be a mixture of rage sadness. Exhaustion, but today I feel weirdly hopeful and just a tad bit optimistic and I’m confused by it, but also inspired by it as well. I’m seeing conversations happen in a way that I haven’t seen them happen as it relates to race and racism.
[00:07:55] That makes me feel like. This might be the moment that we start to have these conversations in the [00:08:00] way that we need to be having them for a shift to actually happen. and with the work that I’m doing, it’s also, again, inspiring for me to see some of these conversations that I’ve been wanting people to have in more direct and candid ways are they’re beginning to happen.
[00:08:14] And it’s unfortunate that it’s happening because of what happens to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery. But. Again, I’m feeling weirdly optimistic that this time we’ll have these conversations in a way that will hopefully move us forward.
[00:08:27] Helen: [00:08:27] Hi everyone. My name is Helen Adeosun and I’m the CEO and cofounder of Care Academy.
[00:08:32] We provide all on professional development and upselling for direct care workers. I’m still into healthcare. so I think I go through this on a daily basis. but you know, I. And somewhere between, even as we speak a point of exhaustion, I feel very heavy still. because I, I think contrary to maybe our view of founders, I consider myself very introverted.
[00:09:01] And so part of my reaction and this. I mean this moment, even at, within my own lifetime, I’m 35 years old, very cyclical. Right. Especially since the advent of video cameras, I feel like this has been going through cycles of this would last 10 years, where my own tendency as sort of a cycle of grief and rage.
[00:09:26] But expressing that sort of inwardly and within community and within safe spaces. And I’ve been really fortunate that I have that, in so far as other founders and friends. but I also feel in some ways that I am compartmentalizing, I am actually, I think that the , there’s a mix. Blessing are the silver lining in COVID and the pandemic is that, and I think actually in part what lends itself to why this moment is very special and people’s ability to sort of act and reflect.
[00:09:58] It’s based on the fact that [00:10:00] we’re all home. I have sought that out as, and thought of that as a blessing, over the last couple of weeks, because I am a processor and I think that this country that is built on go, go, go, go. And also as a founder, the premise of foundership is go, go, go, go is not a level of sort of sitting down and reflecting.
[00:10:20] And so I think I’m feeling. This moment. And also the cadence of just the violence and the horror of the violence, rapidly, , is also placing a weight, I think, to what Ashlee said. I also feel like there is a turning point. I also think that there’s a level of intention and. I wanted to take the moment and be kind to others and myself to process first before I react, because I think the other piece too is, as in foundership, as a natural reaction knee jerk reactions to everything and wanting to process and see from a pleasant intentionality.
[00:10:58] What place do we have as Care Academy? What I have as a founder, in this very moment. and I think people are seeking more reflectively as opposed to reflexively. and that’s what I draw hope and inspiration from is that I think before we talk more than large we’ll point fingers, as I think people are want to do in cases like this.
[00:11:21]in moments like this people are now sort of taking a hard look at themselves and their organizations and, taking a level of ownership and accountability that I haven’t seen before in my lifetime. So I’m thrilled and excited about that. I
[00:11:35] Ivor: [00:11:35] just want to build on what I hear is kind of this theme of really meaningful reflection and meaningful conversations.
[00:11:45] And I would love to hear from the group, what has that been like for you as an entrepreneur in this space? And what has it been like for you as a black woman in these conversations that are now coming up? I know, I [00:12:00] find myself having, I started this year with the expectation and with the meaningful purpose of saying I’m going to be my authentic self in all spaces in places and what being at home and being in COVID-19, you know, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
[00:12:18] Has allowed me to do is to think and reflect even more about that. What the authentic me is. And then these conversations came on top of that. And what does it mean to, as you said, Helen, be reflective and have that authentic conversation. That both is true to myself, but also there’s this level of responsibility and need now, for a part of my voice that then takes a part of me.
[00:12:48] To give out. And I’m just curious as to hear how you guys have been sort of processing and experiencing that.
[00:12:54] Cherae: [00:12:54] I think one thing Helen said that really resonated with me, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about is that COVID-19 and the moment we’re in are, are not separable they’re inseparable, it would not be in the moment we’re in. Had we not had a literal global reflective point world has been in reflection, you know, for 90 days. And I think George Floyd’s murder all eight minutes and change of it on camera. Would not have been the turning point that it has become and that I’m claiming it to become without 90 days of in your house globally.
[00:13:36] I think that it’s funny, you know, when I, closed my seed round at the end of last year and sort of went into your return and all of that. And, and I think as a black woman, The 400 year Mark is not insignificant in like this great awakening happening. I’m a big believer like that. I think there is huge ancestral significance to what’s happening [00:14:00] and that’s just how I feel on a personal level.
[00:14:01]but as a founder, after the craziness of the end of 2019, I took 2020 January and February and said I was going to be still, which is something that someone that works in travel. I never do. I’m usually in some other country, 70% of the time. And so I was already in this place of stillness and then it just continued.
[00:14:20] And so similar to you, it was kind of like I had had so much time to begin to form myself a new to begin to say, I’ve got this new pulpit. You know, I joined that 1 million up founder club, you know, I, , have shown that. Black business created for black people to do black things, you know, is venture backable by people in the industry that are respected, whether they are part of this community or not.
[00:14:49] And I was ready to be having like a very particular use case for my voice. As a founder in this moment has allowed that to blossom in a way that’s much deeper. Then I would have ever imagined. And I think with the investors that came into my round, even there were these little snippets of conversations that maybe were well intentioned, but still, maybe surface that have taken on an entirely different level of depth in this moment.
[00:15:17] And I’ve been using my agency with intention in this moment more than I think I ever have done before.
[00:15:25] Ashlee: [00:15:25] I’ll jump in. I think, one of the things that I’ve been using the past couple of weeks to think about is like, how will I, how do I want to use, what do I want my voice to be in this moment?
[00:15:36]showing up authentically has always been. a phrase that gives me great angst, but also I love it cause it’s like, all right, how do I show up in spaces authentically? Because I know who the real Ashlee is, but can Pete, can I really show up in that way? but I’m also with my day job and unique position, working with strategic healthcare investors.
[00:15:57] And in this time, you know, Even [00:16:00] before everything that’s happened has happened. I’ve been thinking I’m the one black person, black woman in the room with these people. How can I use this opportunity in this space to make room for others who look like me? And this moment now is like really forcing me to think, okay, What is your voice going to be in this moment?
[00:16:17] How are you speaking to clients? And also, how are you using your voice as a founder of a company that is focused on getting black woman access to the kind of care that and quality of care that they deserve and that they need. And so that’s, I mean, to Helen’s point, I’ve just kinda been trying to sit and reflect and not just be, not feel the need to have something to say at every moment because of the work that I’m doing.
[00:16:40] But really just to pause and think about what does this moment mean for me personally? What does it mean for me as a professional? What does it mean for me as a founder and how am I going to shape my voice and my
[00:16:51] perspective in these different roles that I’m in. So those are the conversations that I feel like I’ve been having with myself internally the past couple of weeks.
[00:17:00] I feel like as black women, we’re always having these conversations about race and racism. It’s just now being amplified. Now we have a microphone and people are listening. And so that’s, what’s different. But for me, it’s like, we’ve been, we’ve been talking about this, but since folks are ready to listen, what am I going to say? And how am I going to say.
[00:17:19] Stella: [00:17:19] I think something that you just said, Ashlee kind of brought a thought and it’s, it’s really about, for me, I’ve been thinking about how do I want to respond in that moment? What can I give? There’s been a lot of different things that have been asked of me or things that I’ve seen that have.
[00:17:39] I’d want wanted to respond to, and to be honest, there’s been somewhere. I was like, today is not the day. I, I can’t do it. And there’s been somewhere. I’d be like, I have to speak on this. And so I’m really trying to be very intentional, but also cognizant of my own mental and physical and spiritual mindset.
[00:18:00] [00:17:59] And using that to kind of guide what and how I’m showing up. But it’s a little bit difficult because, you know, there’s that whole angry black woman stereotype. But if we’re keeping it real, I am angry and there’s a lot of things that are happening. That’s triggering that anger. And so I’m working on how do I communicate in a way. Where it’s not only the anger that is seen because I’m okay with that being seen, but it’s also the passion, the truth, the realness of, of what needs to be communicated. And to give you an example, there was an investor on LinkedIn, who made a comment about her racking her mind about what she can do and being tired of asking that question and saying, now she’s committing to investing, in, you know, her new investments being in black founded company.
[00:18:54] And she had mentioned that she believes that black or underrepresented folks have a unique ability to solve the issues of racism with technology.
[00:19:06] And that enraged me because this same woman, I met her during Techstars. And she said to me multiple times that she did not feel that companies were in a place.
[00:19:21] Where they would actually put dollars towards the diversity and that she didn’t feel like there could be a scalable technology solution that would address that mind you, this person has experience in investing in companies in the HR space.
[00:19:40] And so it was just really upsetting to me to see that type of communication in the public without acknowledging the fact that you’ve actually been a part of this bias or this problem when it comes to looking at the solutions that black folks or people of color bring [00:20:00] and not checking that bias. And it wasn’t the fact that, you know, that it happens because.
[00:20:06] There’s been a lot of folks has communicated to me their remorse and kind of acknowledging their role, or kind of their lack of action. But it’s more of the fact that it seems like there’s a lot of conversation about what’s gonna be done forward, but it triggers because nobody is really acknowledging.
[00:20:24] You know how blatant and how they were aware of, you know, a lot of the inequities and inequality and they were okay with it. So without doing that, it’s hard for me to believe that you’re really focused on making a difference. And so that’s kind of how I’m approaching, you know, these different conversations is just how I feel in the moment being authentically true to that moment. And, but also trying to be a voice of, you know, honesty and different perspectives.
[00:20:57] Helen: [00:20:57] Spoke about where you are really resonated with me. I think I would also add well for myself, I’m learning to show up for myself, right. And my company I’m learning to be protective and also offensive defensive for my company. I mean, because now that we have a lot of time to sit and think about these things, right.
[00:21:18] I think that there’s so many moments and opportunities right now that people are taking to reshape their narratives to, yes, let’s be real virtue signal around this issue and be opportunistic and. You know, I sit back in this and I say, all right, you know, while it’s great than that, I think, you know, I think Arlan Hamilton, who’s invested in Care Academy for articulating a lot of this in a really well, last week in many different forms, but.
[00:21:49] If you were already committed to doing the work, it cannot come from a structurally racist place, right. To get onto a platform and [00:22:00] suggest that you want to do something again, out of reflection, re reflexiveness, as opposed to reflection that alludes to office hours. To me. I’ve had to really kind of dig into why I’m so angry about some of what is being said right now comes from a place of structural racism, right?
[00:22:20] Because if you’re going to get on and say, you’re going to provide office hours, but not the checks, one has to ask, why weren’t you doing it before? you don’t have to fund all of us, but. Why weren’t black women or people of color or black people, part of your deal flow to begin with one.
[00:22:35] And then two, one has to say that. Do you think that by providing office hours, you are building upon something that you fundamentally think these types of founders or us, or me or people who look like me are lacking than someone who is 10 years younger. Fresh out of Stanford and no lick of experience.
[00:22:56] Right. And so I’m a woman of faith. I consider myself very opportunistic. I consider myself also very optimistic, but I think in a lot of what is happening in the way it’s being cushioned, I’ve become a little bit reacting sort of cynically and rather than sort of building the bridge of.
[00:23:16] You know, these people are well-intended and I always tell people while well-intended, I think our help is coming from a place that is in and of itself is problematic. I’ve started to ask more of a question and I love that Tope Awotona who’s the founder of Calendly has had me thinking more so in the direction of.
[00:23:35] Aside from everyone’s virtue signaling and reach outs and handouts, let’s be real. What can we do as black founders to make ourselves, you know, available to each other, whether it’s time, talent, or treasure. , so for instance, I had a couple of friends from grad school who were like, well, you know, I see you building this business.
[00:23:57] I want to learn how to do that too. And I [00:24:00] realized office hours for me, right. Would be probably way more beneficial than office hours from a white guy just realize that black founders actually just existed. Because I’m going to tell her my own experience. And then I’m also going to tell her how to avoid, you know, the proverbial BS that happens, I think, with this too.
[00:24:18] Right? And so time, talent and treasure, rather than depending on a table that is already been built and is no matter how beneficial it sees itself as already filled to the brim, because racism is a disease with a very high infection rate. And even in the most well-intended spaces. Well-intended spaces also, I think are structurally racist as well.
[00:24:41] How can black foundership be intentional about time, talent, and treasure, and I’ve seen, so I’ve been the beneficiary of people who have said on the moment, I want to be part of what you’re building as best as I can. And I’ve made the space for them. Because I believe that I need to have those people at the table.
[00:25:01]I’ve talked to founders like Brian Brackeen and he pointed out another thing, right. Beyond funding beyond capital. There has to be the extension of capital of trust. It’s not only about writing a check. And is, do you also believe that black founders are capable of building and scaling companies? Not just the office hours and not just the capital.
[00:25:20] It is not just the hiring of black and Brown faces. There’s also the promotion. black and Brown faces. Right. And I think that if I’m feeling like the tingling coming up a little bit,
[00:25:34] I mean, I need to chill out because I’m getting angry, but , I’m hoping that what we get to is also this moment for us, like away from the noise. We get to, and we make spaces and I’m, I’m so excited that people are creating those spaces right now where we can say, all right, you know what, thank you. Give us a second.
[00:25:54] We’re going to go over here for a minute. And we’re going to also figure out like ways of leveraging this moment [00:26:00] on are the right ways of doing it and really doing it. Even though we know this is a very structurally racist society. Dismantles moments where, black founders and black capitalists is structured itself.
[00:26:13] There’s always something in them. And how do we kind of build and rebuild and reposition and regroup. And so that’s why I say, I think, like I had been much more furtive about how can I, as founder of care Academy, as Helen, as daughter or someone as sister of someone. Figure out how I can be most protective of my own community and also like give what I can with what I have, but also realize that nothing begets success like success.
[00:26:40] So I also have to focus on what I’m building to be protective of that and balance that out. So I don’t know if any of that makes sense, cause I’m a little unlike riled up right now, but.
[00:26:50] Ashlee: [00:26:50] First telling you’re like preaching a whole word right now, as you were speaking, it just, it made me think of a question that I’ve been asking myself, like, what is the work that we should be doing?
[00:26:59] Cause my, my thing is I don’t, as much as I love to talk, I don’t really care to host or organized panels, educating white people and how they can do better. Like that. Doesn’t feel like the best use of my time. I understand that those conversations are important. But what is the work that we can do?
[00:27:17] Cause we’ve already known that racism exists. We’ve already been trying to figure out. And when you mentioned the office hours that you think, you know, you should be extending to other founders of color. That is something that I think is very important and credible. So I’m glad that you, that you mentioned that like that, to me, that feels like that’s the work that is, especially as a black woman, that’s where our energy should be, you know, be pushed into versus trying to educate people on things that.
[00:27:42] They already knew, but then they turned a blind eye to, so what are the ways that we can do work to protect ourselves and protect others who look like us and also move things forward.
[00:27:52]Cherae: [00:27:52] I put something out on Twitter yesterday and I was saying like, as much as like, it’s great that like we’re in [00:28:00] this place where like white people want to sort of buy into racism is real finally, like it’s more important to me that like, We use this moment as black people to buy into ourselves.
[00:28:12] So like I’ve found that like my work and my intention and the conversation I’m really trying to have is around black people, understanding institutionalized racism and how it’s working within our community. And when I say within our communities, I mean, how does institutionalized racism affect relationships between black immigrants and African Americans?
[00:28:33] How does it reflect when we’re talking about. The more global black diaspora. How is it showing up in Afro Latino communities?
[00:28:42] This idea that racism is a American thing is fundamentally wrong. And some of the most interesting conversations I’ve been having, it’s how we’re unpacking, how we’ve treated each other as a trans cultural black community.
[00:28:58]and how we’ve been misaligned in our efforts by deciding and who was going to take advantage of white American racism, particularly when it comes, when people come to this country and how this can be a wake up call for us to do the work within our communities. And I love Helen’s suggestion around office hours.
[00:29:16] I think the best thing I did, you know, last week outside of posts on Instagram and get my thoughts out on Twitter. Was actually be a coach for a black female high school pitch competition. And like tell them what a deck is and show them my deck and show them the kind of things they should say on their sides.
[00:29:34] I’m so busy running my company. And I think the other part is like, I’m a seed stage founder. Like there’s so far to go. I haven’t raised a series a or series B. You know, I have three people on my team.
[00:29:46] So there is this feeling like I don’t want to be that founder. That’s like mama, I made it one, like I’m literally at the beginning of the journey. And so I’ve been hesitant to sort of share while I’m still building up until this point. But as I see these [00:30:00] conversations and realize that like being a venture backed founder is rare for anybody, but particularly rare for us. Like as much as that is not the accomplishment in and of itself, like building a successful business is the accomplishment. It is still a leap forward that so many people think is out of reach. And if I can at a minimum, make myself accessible and I think that is I owe my community, you know, in many ways.
[00:30:27] Ivor: [00:30:27] You guys are blowing me away. This is an amazing discussion, that conversation. I think what you’re getting to is what do we do and what do we ask other people to do?
[00:30:37] And I think this, this week has really provided some clarity. I think there’s something about coming out of exhaustion where you get clarity of like there’s the short term, and then there’s the long term strategy game. And , what am I doing in the longterm game? Both for my company, for myself as an individual.
[00:30:59] And for my black community, what are, what are we doing? , how am I taking the excellence that I’m showing in my lane and contributing to our community, that’s going to move us forward for the long haul.
[00:31:12] And, you know, you guys have raised some really amazing ideas and some amazing stuff. These guys know I’m really passionate about sharing what, you know, Cause you think there’s just a little, but there’s a ton of things that you clearly know.
[00:31:27] And while you think you’re at the beginning of your journey, you’re so far along in your journey, compared to the people who haven’t already started. And there are conversations that we have that we can have with each other that Nope, some other person’s office hours. Are not going to provide us with and not going to necessarily be as valuable.
[00:31:47] So I want to ask you guys, what can we do? Like what should we be doing? And then what should we be asking others to do?
[00:31:55]Helen: [00:31:55] Write a check!
[00:31:57] I say that half joking and [00:32:00] very serious. I have again, reflection versus reflex. Had people reach out again, offering well-intended offers or, you know, one of our , partners that we’re working with a project yeah.
[00:32:17] Asked if we had content or could explain racism or could make the space to do that. And I sincerely mean it. I mean, just even we’re capitalists by virtue of being on this call and being calling ourselves a designation of founder means. He’s bought wholesale into the idea that yes, you can, you can do well and you can be mission oriented, but then also you believe in capital structure.
[00:32:42] Right? And, I think that we should be much more forthright for our time. We have no for our time and also for the requests of people who now want to be educated on structural racism when, you know, Google, you know, we should be in a place where we should ask for more and also, and expect more and people know that that’s coming.
[00:33:03] And I think that’s something I believe in pragmatic, the 20% that feeds up into the 80%. And I think for an expression of you wanting to hear or share our trauma or our experiences, right? Like wholesale paying for our time. Because I think so often there’s an expectation that obviously history of people, of African descent working for free.
[00:33:27] And I. A sociologists that is at my church, said it best last night that you know it to retraumatize ourselves and then to do that for free is, wholly unacceptable. And I think asking for more and also creating the expectation that if we. Who talk about race or racism and what you want to do more that also, because we all understand the idea of capital should come at a capital cost.
[00:33:53] That’s like my 20% and 80% of the time, talent and treasure 5,000 doesn’t seem like a [00:34:00] whole lot compared to 100,000, but 5,000 may mean something for someone who’s coming up behind you. And. I realized that, you know, I have that right. I don’t have many times to give that, but I have that. And so I think I’ve worked to your point.
[00:34:14] I think too, each her own capacity. I think this is a really great time. It’s been a great time for me to do some soul searching and saying like, if I can be an investor or provide, you know, five grand or my own time or whatever it is within a way that balances the fact that I still have to run a company.
[00:34:33] Like why not take more of those chances? Why not become an investor that kind of like, why not see that as an investment actually in myself? Learning how to do what the Calacanis is in the world do. Right. Because I do want to do that at scale. I don’t, but this is my practice in doing that. I’m going to specifically invest in women who look like, you know, it wasn’t too long ago where five grand would have made the world a difference, I think, in moving forward Care Academy.
[00:34:59] And so how can I do that? Right. And I think you all have brought wonderful examples that I’m kind of. Putting into like my own repertory of, is there a moment to coach, even if just one other founder right. To the next stage, but I think those are all the things that we should be thinking about, you know, to what extent.
[00:35:18] And I completely hear you Cherae. I think I struggle sometimes in the balance of, I’m not quite there yet, and I don’t want to be distracted, but I also think that there’s a balance of that and saying, like to what. whatever I can do now is enough. And, I look to other groups who’ve done this successfully.
[00:35:37] I like take in those stories. There’s a wonderful group called The IndUS Entrepreneurs that have been in the U S for 30 years that are folks of the Indian diaspora, right. Who came in and face a different type of xenophobia and racism and decided at some point we are our own best resource, like in a very white constructed racist world.
[00:35:58] So they developed out [00:36:00] what has now become almost 200,000 people. World, all those, the, the CEO of Google, the CEO, they’re all members of the CEO Wayfair, right? Or like they’re all allies or part of this organization that now has enough breath or even reach out into other communities and, you know, and build allyship.
[00:36:22] And, I think where is our version of that? Can we build our own version of that? but it’s a 25 year study of watching the group that has been so like undermined in a way themselves and built the resource internally to now I can dominate a lot of the conversations. And so I’m, thinking about, I know about this, you know, example, is there an opportunity to kind of build that momentum from this time?
[00:36:49] Ivor: [00:36:49] I think, I think there’s so much to that. Helen, I think the fact that we always think that what we have is not enough and we don’t realize that what we have is more than enough and someone is wishing for and hoping for someone to share our more than enough. And that ability to come together.
[00:37:10] And say what I have may not feel like a lot to me, but what I have, I know that there is something that I can still give. I am loving all this it is vitalizing my day. I would love to hear from you guys. Just one last word of closing thoughts, closing word. As we get ready to wrap up words of wisdom, take away.
[00:37:30] Cherae: [00:37:30] I think from my perspective, and this is like, literally what I just did. I think that, refueling your tank is critically important and pouring into yourself, creating peace. Like I literally feel like, you know, creating our black futures a lot better when there are Palm trees in a river in my backyard.
[00:37:47] Like, and I think like really leaning into the fact that you can’t be out here, an advocate being, you know, the biggest voice, if you are not, you know, pouring into [00:38:00] yourself. And it’s really, really important that you, you do that for yourself as you fight for us. And a bonus is that it doesn’t have to hurt a friend.
[00:38:11] When I was feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. I was like, well, I’m not at the protest and I’m not. And she was like, you can talk to people about things that they don’t have access to helping our cause doesn’t have to hurt.
[00:38:23] Stella: [00:38:23] I mean, I’ve just had so many thoughts just being on this call with all these amazing founders and women.
[00:38:28] And I think that kind of speaks to what I’m going to say. I realized that what energizes me. Being around other amazing people of color who are doing amazing things and creating those safe communities where we’re supporting, but pushing and you know, really working together. And so when I think about what I’m supposed to do, because I struggle with that and the answer seems to change a little bit every day. I think what I have to do is similar to what I have been kind of speaking to when I think about why I started, WeSolv and that’s really living in my purpose. And it’s not a thing that you find, but it’s kind of a thing that you do. It’s, it’s an action and that purpose is changing. And so part of that purpose was for me to be an example of a black female who can build a company that has positive impact in this world, despite all the odds. And now when I think about what’s happening and when I think about these conversations of racism and where my space is. It is to continue to do that,
[00:39:36] but also to do that with the networks and building communities with other black women and other black founders and other underrepresented groups that need that type of, you know, unity. And so I guess my final words. You know, to anyone who’s listening to this specifically black women and black women founders is to find [00:40:00] your lane. And what is your purpose in this fight? We don’t all have to be out there carrying signs or placards as my Nigerian mother calls it.
[00:40:10] But, you know, we can be having conversations, tough conversations with our teams. With our clients or our partners, we can be working on our own success so that we can be the funders of people who look like us in the future. You know, we can be on Twitter or LinkedIn sharing our thoughts, but, you know, it’s find your purpose, find your lane. And you know, all of this has a purpose and we are all important to that.
[00:40:37] Ashlee: [00:40:37] My piece of advice is to just really just be reflective in this time. That’s what I’m choosing to do is really think about how I want to be intentional about what my next steps are and that a lot of that means investing in myself and being a little bit more selfish than I have in the past, because I can’t work.
[00:40:56] Like sure. It was saying like, I can’t work or pour into others with an empty vessel myself. So as a black woman, as a black woman founder, I’m learning to be a bit more selfish with my time with my being more intentional about protecting my mental health. So then I can be in a better position to show up for others in some of the spaces that I have the privilege of being in.
[00:41:14]on the other hand, I think, one of the things I feel compelled to do is to really speak up and to stop waiting, to find out what my perfect voice is, but, you know, to really leverage the opportunities that I have to, impact the community in a positive way. And for me specifically, that means, you know, sharing some social capital.
[00:41:35] I can’t write checks, can’t cut checks, but I have access to people who can do that. And what are the ways that I can create the space to bring other people who look like me in those spaces who are ways that I can make the connections. That can help someone get the check that they need to. And so I’m really right now trying to strategize ways that I can be intentional about doing that, but I’ll also doing that in a sustainable way so that when I’m no longer in this position, How can [00:42:00] this continue to happen?
[00:42:01] Because institutional racism is insidious and it’s not going to, we’re not going to address it with just you being an advocate or activist in that role. Like , I want to get smarter and savvier about ways that we can be anti-racist. and that, like, I’m doing some readings right now and thinking about ways that I can be intentional about calling out institutional racism and making sure that we don’t lose this moment.
[00:42:22]for a true shift to happen. those are my last words just to, I’m trying to be reflective. And I think, it would be beneficial to black women to just kind of take this time to pause, invest in yourself. And then I think you’ll get the clarity that you need to figure out what your next move is going to be.
[00:42:37] Ivor: [00:42:37] I really thank you all for this amazing discussion. I have learned so much for me in this time. It’s really about being reflective and not being reactive. All of those things you said, I’m taking care of myself and strengthening the relationships that buoy me within my four walls with my family, with my friends, because it’s so important as entrepreneurs, because even without all this, our entrepreneur journey is up and down and up and down and having that foundation is so important.
[00:43:14] So strengthening that has been really important for me as part of this time. I thank you guys for sharing your wisdom. I thank you for sharing your time. This is the beginning of a conversation. We know this has been insidious for us, and we know that this is just a part of the journey and that we have to continue to support each other for the long haul.
[00:43:38]and for the next generation, you know, I do this for my children and my children’s children. So, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a great conversation.
[00:43:48] You, women are amazing.
[00:43:51] Stella: [00:43:51] Thank you so much.
[00:43:54]Dan: [00:43:54] We’d like to thank Dr. Ivor Horn and our guests, Helen Adeosun, Stella [00:44:00] Ashaolu, Cherae Robinson and Ashlee Wisdom, as well as our sponsor Valence subscribe, wherever you listen to podcasts or simply go to foundersunfound.com forward slash listenedto that’s.
[00:44:10] Listen,T-O .And follow us on Twitter and Instagram @foundersunfound. This podcast was produced by Dan Kihanya. Social media and other promotion, by Omama Marzuq.
[00:44:21] Our music was composed by:
[00:44:23] James Grant,
[00:44:24] and Bruce Zimmerman.
[00:44:26] I am Dan Kihanya and you’ve been listening to Founders Unfound.
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