Podcast Transcript – Series FOUR Special Episode II
Real Talk Flashback 2020 part 2: Black Women founders June2023
[00:00:00] Dan: What’s up Unfound Nation? Dan Kihanya here. Thanks so much for checking out another episode of Founders Unfound in honor of Juneteenth and the third anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. We thought we’d do something a little different this month. Back in June, 2020, we did two episodes with black men in black women founders capturing their raw thoughts, emotions, and insights from that time.
[00:00:22] These were two of our most popular episodes, and the sentiment and vulnerability shared are as powerful today as they were then. This is [00:00:30] part two featuring Dr. Ivor Horn moderating a panel of black women founders. And if you haven’t listened yet to part one, I’d highly encourage you go back and tackle that one first, and then come back here and listen to part two.
[00:00:42] The founders from these episodes certainly show a representative slice of the founder journey. Some of the startups are prospering and have raised more capital. Some have pivoted, and even some have sunsetted. But all of these founders are wise, fierce leaders today. As mentioned in part one, I do have one [00:01:00] final note about Juneteenth.
[00:01:01] I like so many only really began to know and understand Juneteenth in the last decade or so. It’s amazing that it is now a federal holiday, but we as a nation are still wrestling with how we recognize it. Some think of it more like a liberation day, maybe like the 4th of July. Others think of the circumstances and context.
[00:01:19] And wish to reflect the somberness of annIvorsaries like say 9/11. And I’ll be honest, I’m still figuring out where I land, but what I do have clarity on, on this [00:01:30] day, every single person has an opportunity to learn, serve and reflect. Now on with this throwback episode, part two of our Juneteenth podcast.
[00:01:40] Stay safe and take time to ponder what you hear.
[00:01:53] Dr Ivor Horn: Well, hello everyone. Um, my name is Ivor Horn and I am really honored today to be [00:02:00] the guest host with this amazing group of women to talk about the times that we’re in now. Over the last 15 days,
[00:02:08] 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.
[00:02:21] Black Lives Matter and on top of this was all on top of a global pandemic that changed the way that we [00:02:30] move, um, and interact and engage with each other in a real and different way that none of us have experienced in our lifetime. But on top of that, we also have almost a million cases of Covid-19 in the US alone.
[00:02:44] Almost 2 million cases of Covid-19 in the US, alone. Over a hundred thousand deaths from Covid-19. And our black and brown communities are the most impacted, without a doubt. Very clear. Has brought to [00:03:00] 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.
[00:03:11] I’d have to say, last week people asked me, how are you feeling and how are you doing? And my, my typical response was, I’m wavering between exhausted and tired. And tired is a good day. And this going into the third week, though, quite honestly, [00:03:30] 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. And I wanna start out by asking you all like, how are you doing today on June 10th with all of this?
[00:03:48] Stella Ashaolu: This is, uh, Stella. I’m the founder of a company called We Solve, that connects companies to dIvorse candidates and use performance data from real projects to help them reduce the [00:04:00] bias in their hiring process.
[00:04:01] Thinking about how I’m doing today, it changes. And I used to say that just about being an entrepreneur, um, 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.
[00:04:25] Um, I’ve gone from being. Super, [00:04:30] 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. The weight of the world is on my shoulders right now than usual, but I have a glimmer of, of hope and determination as far as you know, all of the different organizations that I’m connected with and all of the different meetings.
[00:04:58] And you know, I’m sure [00:05:00] we’re all 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, and I’ve had a number of these calls and as long as I can, knowing that I need to take that space as well.
[00:05:19] Cherae Robinson: This is Cherae Robinson, founder and CEO of Tastemakers Africa. Tastemakers is a community and travel experiences platform that connects Africa and its diaspora. [00:05:30] I think, um, 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 brainin emoji, like that was like how I felt.
[00:05:41] 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 [00:06:00] waking up to in a very real way.
[00:06:02] 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. Mentors as investors are looking to me, um, to have meaningful conversations and take meaningful action. And so as much as it is, it was ex like very, very [00:06:30] taxing initially.
[00:06:31] I think more than anything I. Excited about this shift and I feel incredibly aligned in my interest, ability, and passionate and passion towards moving things forward. Um, so that’s how I’m feeling.
[00:06:49] Ashlee Wisdom: I can jump in next. I’m Ashlee, the founder of Health in Her HUE. We’re, it’s a digital platform that connects black women to black and culturally competent healthcare providers. Um, if you [00:07:00] asked me this question two weeks ago, it’d be a mixture of rage, sadness, um, 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. Um, I’m seeing conversations happen in a way that I haven’t seen them happen as it relates to race and racism.
[00:07:23] That makes me feel like. This might be the moment that we start to have these conversations and the way that we need to be having them [00:07:30] for a shift to actually happen. Um, 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 and it’s an unfor, it’s unfortunate that it’s happening cause of what happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Maud Arbery, but.
[00:07:50] Again, I’m feeling weirdly optimistic that this.
[00:07:57] Helen Adeosun: Hi everyone. My name is Helen Adeosun. I’m [00:08:00] the and Co-Founder Care Academy. We, um, provide online professional development and for direct workers. Um, so I this, um, but you know, And somewhere between, even as we speak, a point of, uh, exhaustion, I feel very heavy still. Um, cause I, I [00:08:30] think contrary to maybe our view of founders, um, I consider myself very introverted. And so part of my reaction and this. I mean, this moment, even within my own lifetime, 35 years old, feels very cyclical.
[00:08:44] Right? Especially since the advent of video cameras. I feel like this is, we’ve been going through cycles of this for the last years, um, where I, um, my own tendency as sort cycle. [00:09:00] But expressing that sort of inwardly and within community and within safe spaces, and I’ve been really fortunate. Then I have that, um, insofar as other founders and friends.
[00:09:12] Um, but I also feel in some ways that I am compartmentalizing. I am actually, I think that the, there’s a, there’s a mix. Blessing the silver lining in Covid. This is that, um, I think actually in [00:09:30] part lends itself.
[00:09:37] On the fact that we’re all home. I have sought that out as, and thought of that as a blessing, um, over the last couple weeks. Cause I’m a processor and I think that this country that is built on go, go, go, go. And also as a founder, premise of foundership is go, go, go, go is not a level of.[00:10:00]
[00:10:01] And also the cadence of just the violence and the, the horror of the violence has come, um, rapidly. Um, is, is also placing a weight, I think to what Ashlee said. Um, I also feel like there is a turning point. I also think that there’s a level of intention and. I wanted to the moment and be kind to others and myself to process first before react.
[00:10:27] Cause I think the other piece too, [00:10:30] natural reaction, knee reaction, everything wanted process from intentionality. What place do we have as car academy? What place do I have as a founder, um, in this very moment? Um, and I think people are speaking more reflectively as opposed to reflexively. Um, and that’s what I draw hope and inspiration from, is that.
[00:10:56] I think before we talk more wr large or [00:11:00] point fingers as I think people do in cases like this, um, and moments like this, people are now taking hard look at themselves, organizations taking level of ownership and accountability before my lifetime. So I’m thrilled and.
[00:11:18] Dr Ivor Horn: I just wanna build on, um, what I hear is kind of this theme of really meaningful reflection and meaningful conversations, and I would love to hear from [00:11:30] the group of what has that been like for you as an entrepreneur in this space?
[00:11:36] And what has it been like for you as a black woman in these conversations that are now coming up? I know I find myself having, I, I started this year with the expectation and with the meaningful purpose of saying I’m gonna be the, my authentic self in all spaces and places. And what being at home and being in know, because of the [00:12:00] has allowed me to do is to think and reflect even more about the what the authentic me is.
[00:12:08] 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 [00:12:30] then takes a part of me to give out. And I’m just curious as to hear how you guys have been sort of processing and experiencing that.
[00:12:38] Cherae Robinson: 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 not, um, separable. They’re inseparable. We would not be in the moment we’re in had we not had a literal global. The world has been in [00:13:00] reflection, you know, forced for 90 days and do not.
[00:13:05] I think George Floyd’s murder all eight change of it. 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. I think that it’s funny, you know, when I, I closed my seed round at the end of last year and sort of went [00:13:30] into year 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.
[00:13:39] I’m a big believer, things like that. I think there is huge ancestral significance to what’s happening and that’s just how I feel on a personal level. Um, but as a founder, after the craziness of the end of 2019, I took 20, 20 January and February and said I was gonna be still, which is something that someone that works in travel, I never do.
[00:13:58] I’m usually in [00:14:00] some other country. 70% of the time. And so I was already in this place of stillness and then it just continued. And so similar to you, it was kinda 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’ve joined that 1 million up founder club.
[00:14:22] You know, I, you know, have shown that black business created for black people to do black things, you [00:14:30] know, is venture backable by people in the industry that are respected, whether they’re part of this community or not. 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.
[00:14:46] Than I would’ve ever imagined. And I think with the investors that came into my round, even, there were these little snippets of conversations that maybe were like well intentioned, but still maybe surface that have taken [00:15:00] on an entirely different level of depth in this moment. And I’ve been using my agency with intention in this moment more than I think I ever have done before.
[00:15:11] Ashlee Wisdom: I’ll jump in. I think, um, 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, in this moment? Um, showing up authentically has always been, um, a phrase that gives me great [00:15:30] angst, but also, I love it cuz it’s like, all right, how do I, how do I show up in spaces authentically?
[00:15:36] Cause I know who the real Ashlee is, but can, can I really show up in that way? Um, but I’m also with my day job in unique position working with strategic healthcare investors. And in this time, you know, Even 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.
[00:15:56] How can I use this opportunity in this space to make [00:16:00] 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? 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 women access to the kind of care that and quality of care that they deserve and that they need.
[00:16:19] And so that’s, I mean, I, to Helen’s point, I’ve just kind of been trying to sit and reflect, um, and not just be, not feel the need to, to have something to say at every moment because of the work that [00:16:30] I’m doing, 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?
[00:16:37] What does it mean for me as a founder? And how am I going to shape my voice and my perspective, um, in these different roles that I, that I, um, I’m, 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. I feel like as black women we’re always having these conversations about race and racism.
[00:16:56] It’s just now being amplified. Now we have a microphone, I, [00:17:00] 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 it?
[00:17:12] Stella Ashaolu: I, 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 wanna respond in that moment?
[00:17:24] What can I give? There’s been a lot of different things that have been asked of me, [00:17:30] or things that I’ve seen that have. I’ve 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 like I have to speak on this. And so I’m really trying to be very, um, intentional but also cognizant of my own mental and just physical and spiritual mindset and using that to kind of guide what and how I’m showing up.
[00:17:57] But, It’s a little bit difficult [00:18:00] 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 Im 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.
[00:18:26] The realness of, of what needs to be communicated. And to [00:18:30] give you an example, there was an investor on, 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 companies.
[00:18:48] And she mentioned that she. Black or underrepresented folks have a unique ability to solve the issues of racism with [00:19:00] technology. 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 where they would actually put dollars towards dIvorsity and that she didn’t feel like there could be a scalable technology solution that would address that.
[00:19:27] Mind you, this person has. [00:19:30] Experience in investing in companies in, you know, the HR space. 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 and not checking that bias.
[00:19:56] And it wasn’t the fact that, you know that it happens [00:20:00] because there’s been a lot of folks who’ve communicated to me their remorse and kind of acknowledging their role, um, or kind of their. Lack of action, but it, 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, you know, how blatant and how they were aware of, you know, a lot of the, the inequities in inequality and they were okay with it. So without doing that, it’s hard for me to [00:20:30] 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.
[00:20:52] Helen Adeosun: About where youre really resonate with. I think I would also add, well, for myself, I’m to [00:21:00] also, I’m show for myself, right? I’m. Also offensive defensive for my company. I mean, I, cause if I, now that we have a lot of time to sit and think about these things, right? I think that there’s so many moments and opportunities right now that people are taking to reshape their narrative to, yes, let’s be real virtue signal around this issue.[00:21:30]
[00:21:31] You know, I sit back in this and I say, alright, you know, while it’s great and I think, you know, I think Arlin Hamilton, who’s an investor in Care Academy for articulating a lot of this in really well, really well last week in many different forums. But if you were already committed to doing the work, it cannot come from a structurally racist.
[00:21:55] Right place to get onto platform and suggest [00:22:00] that you so reflectiveness as opposed, reflects office hours. 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? Because if you’re gonna get on and say you’re gonna office hours, but not checks, one has to ask, why weren’t you doing it before?
[00:22:26] Why wasn’t, you know, you don’t have to fund all of us, but. [00:22:30] Why weren’t black women or people of color or black people part of your deal flow to begin with? One and then two. One has to say that, do you think that by providing office hours, you’re 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.
[00:22:52] Fresh out, you know, Stanford and no experience. Right? And so I’ve been probably, and I’m not a [00:23:00] very, I don’t consider myself, I’m a very hopeful, I’m a woman of, 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, I’ve become a little bit and rather.
[00:23:21] You know, these people are well-intended and I always tell people while well-intended, I think help coming place itself, [00:23:30] I.
[00:23:40] From everyone’s virtue signaling and reach outs and handouts, let’s be real. What can do as founders ourselves, you know, available to other, whether it’s time, talent, or treasure. My, so for instance, I had a couple of [00:24:00] friends from grad school who were like, look you, I see you business I and I office hours for right would way than office hours from a white who realized that.
[00:24:15] I’m gonna tell her my own experience and then I’m also gonna tell her how to avoid, you know, the proverbial BS that happens I think with this too, right? And so time, talent, and treasure, rather than depending on a table [00:24:30] that has already been built and is no matter how beneficial it sees itself, is already to disease with very high infection rate.
[00:24:40] And even the. Well intended spaces. So I, I think are structurally racist, um, as well. How can lack 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 wanna be part of, [00:25:00] you know, what you’re building in a, in, in, as best as I can.
[00:25:03] And I’ve made the space for them. Because I believe that I need to have those people at the table. Um, I’ve talked to founders like Brian Burkin 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, it’s do you also believe that black founders are capable of building and scaling companies, not just the office hours, and not just, its not just hiring [00:25:30] black and brown faces.
[00:25:32] Black and brown faces. Right? And I think that if, Lord, I’m feeling like tingling, coming up a little bit, preaching chill, but
[00:25:51] 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 [00:26:00] we can say, alright, you know what? Thank you. Give us a second. We gonna go over here for a minute and we’re gonna also figure out like ways of leveraging this moment on our behalf.
[00:26:10] Right. Uh, ways of doing it and really doing it, even though we know this is a very structurally racist society, which dismantles moments where, you know, um, black founders and, and black capital is structured itself. There’s always something in there, but how do we kind of build and rebuild and reposition and regroup?
[00:26:28] And so that’s why I [00:26:30] say I think like, I had been much more fur about how can I, as founder of Care Academy, as Helen, as daughter of 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 realized that nothing beget success, like success.
[00:26:50] So I also have.[00:27:00]
[00:27:00] Ashlee Wisdom: First, Helen, you’re like preaching a whole word right now as you’re 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? Cause my, my thing is I don’t, as much as I, I love to talk, I don’t really care. It’s a host or organized panels educating white people and how they can do better.
[00:27:19] Like that doesn’t feel like, The best use of my time. I understand that those con conversations are imp important, but what is the work that we can do? Because we’ve already known that racism exists. [00:27:30] We’ve already been trying to figure out, and you, when you mentioned the office hours that you think you know you should be extending to other founders of color.
[00:27:37] That is something that I think is. Is very important and critical. 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 black women, that’s where our energy should be, you know, be pushed into versus trying to educate people on things that they already knew, but if they turned a blind eye to, so what are the ways that we can be, you know, do work to protect ourselves and protect [00:28:00] others who look like us and also move things forward.
[00:28:02] Cherae Robinson: I put something out on Twitter yesterday and I was saying like as much as like, it’s great that like we’re in this place where like white people wanna 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. So like I’ve found that like my work and my intention and the conversation I’m really trying to have is [00:28:30] around black people understanding institutionalized racism and how it’s working within our communities.
[00:28:35] And, and when I say within our communities, I mean, how does institutionalized racism affect relationships between black immigrants and African-Americans? How does it reflect? The more global black diaspora, how is it showing up in Afro Latin communities? This idea that racism is a American thing is fundamentally wrong.
[00:28:57] And some of the most interesting [00:29:00] conversations I’ve been having is how we are unpacking how we treated each other as a transcultural black community, um, and how we’ve been misaligned in our efforts. By deciding and who is gonna take advantage of white American racism, particularly what 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.
[00:29:24] And I love Helen’s suggestion around office hours. I think the best thing I did, you know, last [00:29:30] week outside of like posts on Instagram and like 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 slides.
[00:29:46] And I never, I’m so busy running my company and I think the other part is like I’m a seed stage founder. Like they’re so far to go. I haven’t raised a series A or series B. You know, I have three people on my team, so there is this feeling like [00:30:00] I don’t wanna be that founder that’s like, mama, I made it when like, I’m literally at the beginning of the journey.
[00:30:05] And so I’ve been hesitant to sort of share while I’m still building up until this point. But as I. See these conversations and realize that like being a venture back 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, successful business is the accomplishment, it is still a leap [00:30:30] forward that so many people think is out of reach. And if I can, at a minimum, make myself accessible in, in without sort of, I, I think that is, I, I owe my community that, you know, in many ways.
[00:30:41] Dr Ivor Horn: You guys are blowing me away. This is an amazing discussion, a conversation. I think what you’re getting to is what do we, what do we do and what do we ask other people to do?
[00:30:53] And I think this, this week has really provided some clarity. I think there’s something about coming out of. [00:31:00] Exhaustion that where you get clarity of like, there’s the short-term and then there’s the long-term strategy game and what, what am I doing in the long-term gain, both for my company, for myself as an individual.
[00:31:15] And for my black community, what are, what are we doing? What, how am I taking the excellence that I’m showing in my lane and contributing to our community that’s gonna move us forward for the long haul? And you [00:31:30] know, you guys have raved some really amazing ideas and some amazing stuff, and these guys know I’m really passionate about sharing what you know.
[00:31:38] Because you think you, you think there’s just a little, but there’s a ton of things that you clearly know 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.
[00:31:59] Are not gonna [00:32:00] provide us with and not gonna necessarily be as valuable. So I wanna ask you guys, what can we do? Like what should we be doing? And then what should we be asking others to do?
[00:32:12] Helen Adeosun: Write a check, I and I, and I say that half joking and very serious. I have, again, reflection versus reflect. Had people reach out again, offering, well-intended, you know, [00:32:30] offers or, you know, one of our partners, um, partners that were working with a project with, you know, asked if we had content or could explain racism or could make the space to do that.
[00:32:43] 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 founder means, You’ve bought wholesale into the idea that yes you can, you can do, well, you can be mission oriented, but then also you [00:33:00] believe in capital structure. Right.
[00:33:01] And, and, and, 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 wanna be educated on. Structural racism when, you know, there’s bureau Google, they should be, you know, we, we should be in a place where we should ask for more and also and expect more, uh, and people know that that’s coming.
[00:33:25] And I think that’s something I, I believe in pragmatic the 20% that [00:33:30] 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. Cause I think so often there’s an expectation that obviously history of people of African descent working for free.
[00:33:49] And I, uh, sociologist said, um, is at my church, said at best, uh, last night that, you know, to retraumatize ourselves and then [00:34:00] to do that for. Is wholly unacceptable and, and I think asking for more and also creating the expectation that if we, when we talk about race or racism and what you wanna do more, that also because we all understand the idea of capital should come at a capital cost.
[00:34:16] That’s like my 20% and 80% and time talent and treasure 5,000 doesn’t seem a.
[00:34:28] I realize that, you [00:34:30] know, I have that right. I don’t have many times to give that, but I have that. And so I think ior, to your point, I think to 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, by brand or my own time or whatever it is, within a way that balances the fact that I still have to run a company.
[00:34:56] Like why not take more of those chances? Why not become an [00:35:00] investor? The kind of like, why not see that as an investment actually in myself learning how to do what the, you know, CALCAN of the world do, right? Because I do wanna do that at scale. I don’t.
[00:35:16] You know, it wasn’t too long ago where five grand would’ve made the world of difference, I think in Moving Forward Care Academy. And so how can I do that? Right. And I think you all have brought up wonderful examples that I’m kinda putting into like my own repertory of, is there [00:35:30] a moment to coach even if just one other founder, right.
[00:35:33] To the next stage. But I, I think those are. All things that we should be thinking about, you know, to what extent, and I completely hear you Sharay. I, I, I think I, I struggle sometimes with the balance of, I, I haven’t, I’m not quite there yet and I don’t wanna be distracted, but I also think that there’s a balance of that.
[00:35:52] Um, and, and saying like, to what, whatever I do, whatever I can do now is enough. And, um, [00:36:00] I look to other groups who’ve done this successfully. I like take in those stories. There’s a wonderful group called the Entrepreneurs
[00:36:11] Indian Diaspora, right, who came in and faced a different type of xenophobia racism. And decided at some point, like, we are our own best resource, like in a very white constructed racist world. We, so they developed out what has now become almost people across the world. [00:36:30] All those, the, the, the CEO of Google, the ceo, they’re all members of Wayfair, right?
[00:36:37] Or like they’re all allies or part of this. Organization that now has enough breadth to even reach out into other communities and, you know, and build allyship. And, and so I think, I think where is our version of that? Can we build our own version of that? Um, but it’s A2 five year study of watching a group that has been so like, was.
[00:36:58] Undermined in a way [00:37:00] themselves and built the resource internally to now I can dominate a lot of the conversations thinking about, I know about this, you know, example, is there an opportunity momentum?
[00:37:15] Dr Ivor Horn: I think, I think there’s so much to that. Um, Helen, I think the fact that we think 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 [00:37:30] someone is wishing for and hoping for someone to share our more than enough and that ability to come together 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 say.
[00:37:45] Still give. I am loving all this black girl magic. Um, it is vitalizing my day. I would love to hear from you guys. Just one last word, A closing thought. Closing word. As we get ready to wrap up words of wisdom, [00:38:00] take away.
[00:38:01] Cherae Robinson: I think from my perspective, and this is like literally what I just did, I think that, um, refueling your tank is critically important and pouring into yourself, creating peace.
[00:38:12] Like I literally feel like, you know, creating our black future is a lot better when there are palm trees in a rIvor in my backyard. Like, and I think like really leaning into the fact that you can’t be out here being an advocate, being, you know, the biggest voice if you are not, [00:38:30] you know, pouring into yourself.
[00:38:32] 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 of. 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.
[00:38:54] Stella Ashaolu: Wow. I mean, I’ve just had so many thoughts just being on this call with all these amazing founders [00:39:00] and, and women, and I think that kind of speaks to, to what I’m gonna say, I, I realize that what energizes me is. Being around other amazing people of color who are doing amazing things and, and creating those safe communities where we’re supporting, but pushing and, you know, really working together.
[00:39:21] 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 [00:39:30] think what I have to do is similar to what I have been kind of speaking to. When I think about why I started we Solve, 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.
[00:39:44] 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. A company that has positive impact in this world, despite all the odds. [00:40:00] And now when I think about what’s happening and when I think about these conversations of racism and where my space is, it’s to continue to do that, 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.
[00:40:21] And so I guess my, my final words. You know, to anyone who’s listening to this, specifically black women and black women [00:40:30] founders, is to find 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, 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 [00:41:00] 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.
[00:41:08] Ashlee Wisdom: My piece of advice is just really just be reflective in this time. That’s what I’m choosing to do, is really think about how I wanna 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 like Sure was saying.
[00:41:29] Like I can’t [00:41:30] work or pour into others with an empty vessel myself. So as a black woman, I’m learning to be 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 that 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.
[00:41:47] Um, on the other hand, I think, um, 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 [00:42:00] really. Leverage the opportunities that I have to, um, impact the community in a positive way. And for me specifically, specifically, that means, you know, sharing some social capital.
[00:42:10] 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 space to bring other people who look like me in those space or 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, [00:42:30] um, doing that, but also doing that in a sustainable way.
[00:42:33] So no longer. How can this continue to happen? Cause institutional racism is insidious and it’s not gonna, we’re not gonna address it with just you being an advocate or activist in that role. Like we, I wanna get smarter and savvier about ways that we can be anti-racist. Um, 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.
[00:42:59] Um, for a [00:43:00] true shift to happen. So that’s, that’s, those are my last words, just to, I’m trying to be reflective and I think, um, it would be beneficial to black women take and then clarity next move is gonna be.
[00:43:15] Dr Ivor Horn: 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.
[00:43:29] All [00:43:30] of those things you said, I’m taking care of myself and strengthen 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.
[00:43:53] So strengthening that has been really important for me as part of this time. I thank you guys for [00:44:00] 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, um, and for the next generation.
[00:44:20] You know, I do this for my children and my children’s children. So, um, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a great conversation. You got you, [00:44:30] you women are amazing.
[00:44:32] Stella Ashaolu: Thank you so much for having us, you guys. Thank you. Bye-bye.
[00:44:36] Dan: Thanks again for listening to this flashback episode from 2020. Look for a link in the show notes if you wanna know what our panelists are up to today in 2023.
[00:44:44] This podcast was produced by me, Dan Kihanya.
[00:44:47] Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Or simply go to foundersunfound.com/listento. That’s Listen T-O. And follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn @foundersunfound. [00:45:00]
[00:45:00] Thanks so much for tuning in.
[00:45:01] I am Dan Kihanya, and you’ve been listening to Founders Unfound.