);

 

Listen in from yourfavorite podcast spots or read the full transcript here.

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
Founders Live
,
the global venue for entrepreneurs to experience events, content, and community.
Check out founderslive.com to join and to find a live event streaming from your city.

 

CAN PAYING RENT =
A BETTER CREDIT SCORE?

 

Abbey Wemimo believes emphatically: yes!

Abbey is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Esusu, a revolutionary fintech platform transforming the connection between data, tenants, and property. Esusu empowers renters around the most important financial identity: the credit score. 

Abbey was born in Nigeria, and as he puts it, “raised in the slums” of Lagos. His mother sacrificed over half her salary to make sure Abbey was able to reach beyond and attend the best schools. He studied alongside the children of the country’s elites, taking him to the US, with stops and degrees from the University of Minnesota and NYU. His early career covered politics, finance, and international development. And his first entrepreneurial endeavor led him to provide clean water for over a quarter of a million people in developing regions.

Abbey and his co-founder Samir started Esusu with a major innovation at its core: using rent payments to enhance credit score. By tracking and using data, Esusu can transform the credit prospects for the 70 million Americans who have little or no credit history. Meanwhile, Esusu provides property managers with insights, analytics, and tenants who are motivated towards timely payments.

The company is now in half a million rental units, across 40 US states. Abbey and Samir have raised over $4 Million in funding from investors like Impact America Fund, Zeal Capital, and Global Good Fund.

Esusu is a word with origins in Nigeria. It essentially means a form of societal cooperation where groups of individuals together contribute for their mutual benefit. But if ask Abbey he will tell you a much simpler version:

“If you want to go fast, you go alone. But if you want to go far, you fundamentally go together”

Make sure to listen in to his wonderful story.

 

“We are now at half a million rental units in 40 States in the country.
~ Abbey Wemimo

In this episode Bee and Dan discussed:

  • Growing up in the slums of Lagos Nigeria
  • Key philosophies: fall forward + you are enough
  • The transition from balmy Nigeria to frigid Minnesota
  • his first startup which gave access to water for quarter-million people
  • Pitching 300+ investors

 

Episode Shout Outs:

Samir Goel (Co-founder)
Beth Noveck
Acumen
Global Good Fund
Sinai Ventures
Zeal Capital Partners
Impact America Fund

 

“ I walk into every situation knowing I can see the other side and be successful.
~ Abbey Wemimo

MORE on ABBEY AND ESUSU

ABBEY:

linkedin.com/in/wemimo-abbey-62382a2a/

ESUSU:

esusurent.com
esusurentrelief.com
linkedin.com/company/esusu/
twitter.com/getesusu

 

“Relationships matter. Invest in them.”
~ Abbey Wemimo

 

 

Listen in from yourfavorite podcast spots or read the full transcript here.

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
Founders Live
,
the global venue for entrepreneurs to experience events, content, and community.
Check out founderslive.com to join and to find a live event streaming from your city.

 

BUILDING THE SOCIAL
PLATFORM FOR FANDOM

 

Bee Law is the founder and CEO of Quirktastic (soon to be QuirkChat), a networking platform where geeks and hobbyists can join fandom communities and create collaborative social video. If you are into Manga, Marvel Universe, or Cosplay – they have a place for you.

It’s no wonder Bee created Quirktastic (from quirky + fantastic). She grew up in North Carolina as the only young black woman she knew who liked Anime and metal rock. Bee felt the sting of bullying and the struggle for acceptance. As an adult, she tapped into her uniqueness, and once online she realized there were large communities who wanted to connect and share the joy of their fandom. This epiphany led her to start Quirktastic – a community now 200,000+ strong. Bee and her company have been featured in TechCrunch, Essence, and Forbes. And she’s been backed by Digital Undivided, SoGal Ventures, and Snap Inc’s prestigious accelerator Yellow.

Come hear Bee’s journey, which goes from Anime enthusiast and non-profit pioneer in high school, to cytogenetic scientist and aspiring doctor, and now to fast-moving tech founder. Her energy and positivity are simply inspiring.

Listen in!

 

“Literally the day after I quit, I found out that next day that I actually got accepted into the incubator.
~ Bee Law

In this episode Bee and Dan discussed:

  • Being the only young black girl who liked Japanese Anime
  • What derailed her journey to be a doctor
  • How blogging uncovered a community and a business
  • Quirktastic’s reset from COVID-19
  • Working with HBO’s Lovecraft Country

 

Episode Shout Outs:

Digital Undivided
Snap’s Yellow Accelerator
UNC Charlotte

5-star reviewer:
Jean-Que, Artiste Pro

 

“…they opened the app about seven times a day…and they spend
about 78 minutes.

~ Bee Law

MORE on BEE AND QUIRKTASTIC

BEE:

twitter.com/bossassbee_
instagram.com/bossassbee
linkedin.com/in/bryanda-law

 

QUIRKTASTIC:

quirktastic.co
wefunder.com/quirktastic
twitter.com/QuirkChat
instagram.com/quirkchat

 

“We just want to talk geek with other people.”
~ Bee Law

 

 

Listen in from yourfavorite podcast spots or read the full transcript here.

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
The Plug
,
a media company that lives at the intersection of data and diversity for the startup and tech communities. Check it out tpinsights.com; Use code UNFOUND to save $10 on an annual subscription.

TRAINING TEAMS IN SECONDS

Tim Salau has that crazy positive energy. It comes through like a smile over the microphone. Tim is one of those folks…after a conversation with him, you just feel ready to go.

Tim’s mission is to aim his passion for design at building things that serve others. So it’s easy to see why he wears so many hats. He is a dynamic speaker, tech influencer, innovator, and content producer. And he’s known as Mr. Future of Work for his visionary perspective on the subject. He’s even got his own tea brand coming out!

On top of all that, Tim is co-founder, and CEO of Guide, a platform for bite-sized learning and talent development for Enterprise remote teams. Guide allows companies to put training and corporate learning directly and easily into the hands of the creators and the learners. How it began, and how it evolved is quite a tale.

Make sure to listen in.

 

“you don’t live where the world is, you live where the world is going.
~ Tim Salau

In this episode Tim and Dan discussed:

  • His journey from Nigeria to Houston
  • Tim’s passion for design and serving others
  • How he handled losing a co-founder
  • Guide’s ‘all-in’ pivot during COVID-19
  • Tim’s vision for where Guide can go

 

Episode Shout Outs:
Taban Cosmos
Backstage Capital

 

“[our] Facebook community has grown [to] over 300,000 people strong worldwide.
~ Tim Salau

 

MORE on TIM AND GUIDE

TIM:
@timsalau [TW], [IG]
https://www.linkedin.com/in/timsalau/
https://www.timsalau.com/

GUIDE:
guideapp.co
@GuideHQ_ [TW]
https://www.linkedin.com/company/mentorsmentees/

 

“The WHAT can look different but the WHY can never change.”
~ Tim Salau

 

 

 

 

Listen in from yourfavorite podcast spots or read the full transcript here.

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
VertueLab
,
a nonprofit fighting climate change by providing funding and holistic entrepreneurial support to cleantech startups.

This September their annual summit, Fuel 2020, is going digital. At Fuel 2020 you’ll connect with future-focused entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, and more.
Founders Unfound listeners: Use code FOUNDERSFRIEND for 20% off your ticket.
Learn more at 2020fuel.org

BLCK VCConnect up at  blackvc.com or follow @BLCKVC

 

Finally…a platform that makes

video easy for influencers

 

Tiffany Kelly loves sports. And she’s a rock star data scientist. She combined these into a dream job with ESPN. She got to dig deep into the sports analytics and data that preoccupy teams, fans, and fantasy devotees alike. She even invented a new stat! It was while at ESPN, however, that Tiffany saw firsthand how brand and media power were shifting with digital and social.  Athletes were emerging as personalities with their own platforms and fan followings. But she saw a hole…video. It’s still too darn hard!! So she quit her job and launched her startup.

 Tiffany is the founder and CEO of Curastory, a company that makes it easy to get started in video. They allow creators to upload, edit, find a sponsor, and distribute video with one click to their social channels, all 100% free. Curastory is launching with a target market where they have recent national approval and first-mover advantage – professional and NCAA student-athletes.

And Tiffany is fresh off raising her six-figure preseed fundraise using crowdfunding!

Listen in to hear the story.

 

“I feel like my entire life has been people betting against me
~ Tiffany Kelly

 

In this episode Tiffany and Dan discussed:

  • Her passion and connection to sports and data
  • Being one of only five to present to thousands at an MIT hackathon
  • Her journey through working at ESPN
  • How an NCAA new rule changed everything for her startup
  • Getting fuel from being underestimated

 

Episode Shout Outs:
Wefunder
Indie Hackers
MVP Institute [Travis Brodeen]
Y Combinator Startup School

 

…our crowdfunding raise has gone very, very well.
~ Tiffany Kelly

 

MORE on TIFFANY AND CURASTORY

TIFFANY:

@tiffmkell [TW]
@tiffmkell [IG]
https://www.linkedin.com/in/tiffmkell/

CURASTORY:

@CurastoryUS [TW]
@Curastory [IG]
https://www.linkedin.com/company/curastory/
https://wefunder.com/fundcurastory

 

“And so rarely anyone that I came across, looked like me.”
~ Tiffany Kelly

 

 

 

 

Listen in from yourfavorite podcast spots or read the full transcript here.

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE:  BLCK VC, a focused community built for and by black investors
Founders Unfound listeners: If you ever thought about getting into Venture, you definitely want to connect up at  blackvc.com  or follow @BLCKVC for more about their exceptional programs and events.

 

Sustainability meets

workforce development

 

It’s rare when a startup can impact one market challenge successfully. And even rarer…two at once. Well, that’s just exactly what Kameale Terry and ChargerHelp! are doing. Kameale’s company is tackling a major pain point in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure – repair and maintenance. At the same time, she’s committed to workforce development and economic mobility. ChargerHelp! is creating an entirely new career role – part technician, part electrician, part IT support. And she wants to prioritize training those from her own community. 

Kameale has the energy, passion, and drive you just want to get behind. The company story is compelling and she’s pretty good at pitching it. So much so that she’s earned hundreds of thousands in grants and pitch competition wins. Now that’s a way to fund a startup! The journey that landed Kameale as a startup CEO is unique and fascinating.

 Listen in to hear the story.

 

“…I am a native to Southcentral Los Angeles.
~ Kameale Terry

In this episode Kameale and Dan discussed:

  • Her persistent desire to make an impact
  • How the need to return home made her career flourish
  • How in 2 years at another startup, she went from customer service rep to leader
  • Why she keeps ending up surrounded by smart black women
  • What attracted her to sustainability and EV

 

Episode Shout Outs:

Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)
Grid110 South LA
Startup Grind LA
EV Connect

 

“Oh, I want to find the best people for these positions. And it just all just so happened to be black women.
~ Kameale Terry

 

MORE on Kameale AND chargerhelp!

KAMEALE:
@KamealeC
linkedin.com/in/kamealecterry

CHARGERHELP!:
chargerhelp.com
@ChargerHelp
linkedin.com/company/chargerhelp

 

“And that has been The most life-giving experience I’ve literally ever had.”
~ Kameale Terry

 

 

 

 

Listen in from yourfavorite podcast spots or read the full transcript  here.

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE:   Valence, a new community built for black professionals
Founders Unfound listeners: get free membership and priority access here
Sign up for the Valence BOOST Challenge

REAL TALK ON THE 
POWERFUL EVENTS OF JUNE 2020

 

In this special episode, Dan brings together former podcast guests from across the US and Canada. These founders process in real-time how they feel — as black men and as entrepreneurs — in the wake of the senseless killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests sparked all around the country. These savvy entrepreneurs and leaders dive into what they think we and others can be doing to address police brutality, racial inequality, and the outcry for justice and social change.

Kahlil Ashanti, Bara Cola, AK Ikwuakor, and Claudius Mbemba…keep it real, as the conversation covers everything from exasperation to optimism, and everything in between.

 

…just as much of an anomaly for her to hear that I’ve been pulled over 60 times, it was crazy for me to hear that she’s never had interaction with police 
~ AK Ikwuakor

In this episode the round table discussed:

  • How it feels to be a black man in America right now (June 2020)
  • What it’s like to be a black entrepreneur in the midst of two American crises
  • What steps are they taking, in light of the protests, George Floyd, and their own mental health
  • Recommendations for others, including allies

 

“It’s been an exhausting last couple days. As a black man, it’s kind of numbing to have to experience this over and over again… 
~ Claudius Mbemba

Reader Resources:

 

“…it’s true that this has been happening, but the difference is it’s being filmed.
~ Bara Cola

 

“I’ve always hoped they could  be alive to see that change because of everything they went through.”
~ Kahlil Ashanti

 

 

 

  

Listen in from yourfavorite podcast spots or read the full transcript  here.

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE:   Valence, a new community built for black professionals
Founders Unfound listeners: get free membership and priority access here
Sign up for the Valence BOOST Challenge

Leveraging Telemedicine to

Enhance 911 Services

 

Shanel Fields grew up around EMS and first responders. And early in her career, she realized that health tech was a place that fed her desire to make an impact. So it makes sense that she combined these two influences when she set out to get her MBA. She was able to mold her business school experience completely around what would become her startup – MD Ally.

The problem MD Ally solves seems so obvious: 911 dispatchers aren’t licensed medical personnel; if you have a health concern, they can’t officially diagnose your situation. So, if you need a band-aid or a defibrillator, they send an ambulance either way. MD Ally is trying to fix this. Shanel wants to make sure EMS responders aren’t tied up with band-aids when time is critical for that defibrillator!

The company now has major momentum, having recently:

  • raised a $1 Million seed round
  • completed the Techstars accelerator program
  • been featured in the New York Times

Listen in to hear more!

 

“…I think that this is a non negotiable in any role or job
or position that I take on 

~ Shanel Fields

Shanel and Dan talked about her startup journey, as well as:

  • What it’s like to grow up with a volunteer EMT
  • How she reverse-engineered her MBA
  • Why the 911 system flaws can mean life or death for underserved communities
  • A different perspective on where to visit Santa during the holidays
  • Why MD Ally had to be envisioned through the lens of an underrepresented founder

 

Episode Shout Outs:
Techstars Seattle

 

“I would start coaching myself early on sleeping more and
taking more breaks.

~ Shanel Fields

 

MORE on SHANEL AND MD ALLY

SHANEL:
linkedin.com/in/shanelfields/
New York Times feature

MD ALLY:
mdally.com
twitter.com/mdallyinc
linkedin.com/company/mdally/

 

“…maybe they didn’t think I was going to be very good at technology or a CEO, especially in a male-dominated space like public safety.”
~ Shanel Fields

 

 

 

 

Full Transcript

BEAUTY SERVICE ON-DEMAND

 

Modjossorica (Rica) Elysee represents why we started Founders Unfound: brave, capable, inspirational, and determined. She pulls no punches. Rica took lessons from her community and nonprofit experiences and transformed herself into an entrepreneurial force.  She’s a sought after speaker on the fireside chat founder circuit. And has boldly helped bring together other women entrepreneurs with @thetable and Female Founders Day. She’s been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, and Black Enterprise.

In this podcast episode, Dan spoke with Rica about her startup BeautyLynk – a company transforming the on-demand beauty market. The conversation ranged across many topics, including of course the wonderful origin story of BeautyLynk. What else did they cover?

Listen in and find out!

 

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE: Perfect Pitches By Precious 

 

How do we innovate the beauty chair?”
~ Rica Elysee

Rica and Dan talked about her startup journey, as well as:

  • her “third culture” life between America and Haiti
  • being on a billboard in Times Square (New York)
  • how music fits into her management approach
  • global expansion
  • what Rick Ross and Cardi B have to do with Morgan Stanley

 

“the fundraising journey when it comes to being a
founders of color is unique ” ~ Rica Elysee

MORE on RICA AND BEAUTYLYNK

Rica’s site:
(always open to speaking opportunities)
http://ricaelysee.com/

BeautyLynk company site:
https://beautylynk.com/

or check them out on Twitter:
twitter.com/BeautyLynk/

 

“There were a lot of people who told me I couldn’t do it,
and I’m still here. ”
~Rica Elysee

 

 

 

Dear Founders,

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

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

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

“What prompted you to start your venture?”

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

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

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