);

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

 

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:

Trajectory: Startup – Ideation to Product/Market Fit
A brand new book by entrepreneur and investor Dave Parker.
This hot-off-the-presses publication is THE playbook for those at the earliest stages of the startup journey.
Or even if you are just contemplating the jump to entrepreneurship.

To get this great resource, go to dkparker.com or find anywhere you buy books.

A PLATFORM UNIQUELY DESIGNED FOR
BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES

 

Melanie Akwule is Founder and CEO of MINWO, a DE&I tech company that connects companies with organizations that have a specific mission to support Black-owned businesses on their path to scaling.

Originally from Virginia, Melanie was an NCAA track athlete who did her undergrad at Georgia Tech. She worked and excelled in the corporate world with GE. But it was at the Haas School, Cal Berkeley where she built her startup muscle. She used her time in school to conceptualize and develop MINWOA. Melanie is off to a great start in 2021 completing the Techstars program and gearing up for the launch of MINWO’s flagship product Rialto.

Melanie has a great story, you’ll want to listen in.

 

“You appreciate the wins, definitely, but you can’t let the blows take you out.
~ Melanie Akwule

In this episode Melanie and Dan discussed:

  • life as an NCAA student-athlete
  • running in the Olympic trials
  • developing a passion for using tech to help businesses succeed
  • how one rejection led to her pursuit of an MBA
  • the highs and lows of early-stage entrepreneurship
  • the serendipity of the stumble

 

 

“…first pitch competition that actually accepted me, , ended up winning.
~ Melanie Akwule

 

“You feel like a mad scientist almost, right? There’s this vision in your brain!
~ Melanie Akwule

 

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

 

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:

Trajectory: Startup – Ideation to Product/Market Fit
A brand new book by entrepreneur and investor Dave Parker.
This hot-off-the-presses publication is THE playbook for those at the earliest stages of the startup journey.
Or even if you are just contemplating the jump to entrepreneurship.

To get this great resource, go to dkparker.com or find anywhere you buy books.

USING TECHNOLOGY TO BETTER SERVE THE UNBANKED AND UNDERBANKED

 

Daricus Releford is the Founder and CEO of StoreCash, a company that provides mobile banking for teens, as well as for unbanked and underbanked adults.

Daricus is the twin son of a mom in the military. And as you just heard, he came home one day as a kid to find that his dad had taken everything from the house. Since that fateful event, Daricus has been on an entrepreneurial journey, that’s gone from cutting lawns to building a FinTech startup in Silicon Valley. Along the way, he’s had to persevere through college, hustle his first company into getting promotion by Steve Harvey, to landing roles with Google, Facebook, and Apple.

Daricus has a great story, you’ll want to listen in.

 

“I do not think that people are racist in Silicon valley. I just think that they haven’t seen it from us.
~ Daricus Releford

In this episode Daricus and Dan discussed:

  • driving hours with his mom to buy a hotdog stand
  • getting through Penn State, initially without a dorm room or place to sleep
  • finding a crafty way to get his products on the Steve Harvey show
  • working for THREE or the big five tech giants
  • how a chance request from his nephew led to his current startup

 

 

“This new generation, they have not been in a physical bank location.
~ Daricus Releford

 

“You are normally right. And believe in yourself. Don’t second guess and move fast.
~ Daricus Releford

 

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

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
AfriBlocks

The global pan-African freelance marketplace and collaboration platform.
Tell them “Dan sent you” for 10% off your first order. More at afriblocks.com

redefining BEAUTY AND SKINCARE
TO REFLECT MORE INCLUSIVELY

 

Ezinne Iroanya-Adeoye is the Founder and CEO of SKNMUSE, the premium beauty brand dedicated to elevating the beauty experience for the modern black woman.

Ezinne was born and raised in Nigeria. After graduating from high school at 15 and ace-ing her SATs, she came to the US for college. She thought she was going to be a petroleum engineer. Lucky for the rest of us, that didn’t happen. Ezinne never forgot the joy she found in the soothing remedies her mom and grandmother prepared for her dry skin. She’s paying it back now, with her luxurious balms, oils, and body butters. For Ezinne, beauty is culture, and she’s on a mission to make the beauty counter reflect more inclusively.

Ezinne has a great story, you’ll want to listen in.

“I can speak for black women. And if anything, beauty is culture for us.
~ Ezinne Iroanya-Adeoye

In this episode Stephen and Dan discussed:

  • Changing majors 3 times in college
  • How her brand wants everyone to feel like “Omalicha Nwa” (‘beautiful one’)
  • The day her brand was featured by Beyoncé
  • How her mom is even more of a fashionista than she is
  • Her vision to create a space that re-imagines beauty for black women

 

 

Stand in your truth and the world will make one for you.
~ Ezinne Iroanya-Adeoye

 

“I called my mom after and I remember her saying, ‘God bless Beyoncé!’
~ Ezinne Iroanya-Adeoye

 

Listen in from your favorite 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 you represent yourself in court?
IT Just got a whole lot easier

 

Dr. Sonja Ebron Co-founder and CEO of Courtroom5, a company that makes an automated legal toolbox that helps people represent themselves in court.

Sonja has one of the amazing backgrounds, engineering academia, a repeat entrepreneur, but it took a challenging experience of our own with the legal system to unleash your mission and passion for the startup life. She has a strong conviction that fairness and the justice system shouldn’t depend on inequitable access to knowledge or resources and our conversation. She talked about the allure of engineering doing a startup in Durham, North Carolina, and so much more.

Sonja has a great story. Be sure to listen in.

 

“We’re dealing with a broken business model in the legal profession.
~ Sonja Ebron

In this episode Stephen and Dan discussed:

  • growing up in Durham NC
  • The call to engineering
  • The career arc between academia and entrepreneurship
  • Why the legal system can feel rigged
  • How African Americans are, by necessity, innovative and entrepreneurial

 

 

“ I am always trying to find a way to do things simpler.
~ Sonja Ebron

 

“The average cost of a lawyer is $300 [per hour].
Right now, the average American makes a 10th of that.

~ Sonja Ebron

 

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

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
The Plug

Delivering clear analysis and powerful insights on what’s shaping the Black innovation economy.
Get your annual subscription to The Plug at tpinsights.com

BRINGING THE STYLE, CULTURE, AND
STORIES OF AFRICA’S DESIGNERS
TO THE REST OF THE WORLD

 

Amira Rasool is the Founder and CEO of The Folklore, an omnichannel platform that is bringing luxury and emerging designer brands from Africa online for the first time.

Amira has that fearlessness that just draws you in. She says it got her in trouble when she was younger, but we’re betting it will help her succeed as a founder. She and The Folklore have been featured everywhere from Forbes and Fast Company, to Vogue and Essence. Amira has just recently completed the Techstars program here in Seattle. Dan sat down with her to talk about The Folklore and how she sees it as so much more than a fashion brand.

Amira and The Folklore have a terrific story.

Make sure to listen in.

 

“…the currency that black people have…that cultural currency is valuable itself.
~ Amira Rasool

In this episode Stephen and Dan discussed:

  • growing up in an Oregon suburb
  • how a chance elective sent his life on a new path
  • working with his brother as co-founders
  • why a developer’s non-coding background matters

 

 

“ Scared money don’t make none.
~ Amira Rasool

 

“Tell yourself in the mirror, like ain’t nobody doing this better than me, and then go make sure that that’s true.
~ Amira Rasool

 

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

 

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
Trajectory: Startup – Ideation to Product/Market Fit
A brand new book by entrepreneur and investor Dave Parker.

This hot-off-the-presses publication is THE playbook for those at the earliest stages of the startup journey. Or even if you are just contemplating the jump to entrepreneurship.

To get this great resource, go to dkparker.com or find anywhere you buy books.

 

EMpowering coding school

grads for success

 

Stephen Ajayi is the Co-Founder and CEO of YearOne, a company that helps individuals coming out of code schools, land incredible jobs. But getting jobs for Bootcamp grads is not all they do. YearOne also supports new employees through their early careers within technology companies – setting them up for long-term success as well.

Stephen knows the journey of the YearOne community, intimately. He moved away from a pre-med track in college to pursue programming, all from the chance selection of taking an elective course in computer science. He went on to dive headfirst in a coding school and ultimately emerged as a Sales VP for a Silicon Valley startup. So, he’s seen from both sides the challenges and friction in the hiring process. And YearOne is particularly focused on coders coming from less traditional backgrounds. And to him, those backgrounds are a major strength. YearOne has a great journey – through the Portland tech ecosystem, to Techstars, and now with backing from great investors like Zeal Capital Partners and Black Founders Matter.

Stephen and YearOne have a terrific story.

Make sure to listen in.

 

“As a black founder just be yourself, you want people to accept you for who you are.
~ Stephen Ajayi

 

In this episode Stephen and Dan discussed:

  • growing up in an Oregon suburb
  • how a chance elective sent his life on a new path
  • working with his brother as co-founders
  • why a developer’s non-coding background matters

 

 

“My mom would always said, I want you to get a job where they have healthcare and air conditioning.
~ Stephen Ajayi

 

“70% of our candidates so far have been women or people of color
~ Stephen Ajayi

 

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

 

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
Trajectory: Startup – Ideation to Product/Market Fit
A brand new book by entrepreneur and investor Dave Parker.

This hot-off-the-presses publication is THE playbook for those at the earliest stages of the startup journey. Or even if you are just contemplating the jump to entrepreneurship.

To get this great resource, go to dkparker.com or find anywhere you buy books.

 

filling Units seamlessly
for property owners

 

Patrick Paul is the Co-Founder of Ikos, a start-up using data and information to allow property owners to execute and manage the vital, day-to-day tasks of investment property ownership. Patrick was raised with a strong Haitian heritage starting in New Jersey and ending up in Southwestern Florida. He grew up an athlete, ended up going to a military academy, then college, and into the world of finance and real estate. Now based in Pittsburgh, Patrick has helped to transform the modern rental experience with Ikos, along the way raising millions and weathering an industry hard hit by the economic crisis from COVID-19.

Make sure to listen to his incredible story.

 

“I’m a founder who happens to be black. That’s just always been my mindset.
~ Patrick Paul

 

In this episode Patrick and Dan discussed:

  • growing up in a Haitian household with 6 older siblings
  • serendipitous customer discovery in a coffee shop
  • the dynamics of a diverse founding team
  • the attraction of the Pittsburgh tech scene

 

 

“I would really say progress over perfection.
~ Patrick Paul

 

“ That summer cutting grass, single handedly made me get my degree. It was too hot out there!
~ Patrick Paul

 

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

 

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
Cascadia Cleantech Accelerator
powered by VertueLab and CleanTech Alliance
This 15-week program delivers mentorship, connections, funding opportunities, and more
For early-stage cleantech startups looking to launch and scale their business.
Check out today at cascadiacleantech.org

AfriBlocks
The global pan-African freelance marketplace and collaboration platform.
Tell them “Dan sent you” for 10% off your first order. More at afriblocks.com

 

RETHINKING HOW WE
CONNECT AT GATHERINGS

 

Ashlee Ammons is the Co-Founder of Mixtroz, a company that creates serendipity at live and virtual events using real-time surveying along with their unique algorithm.  Ashlee has an amazing journey – from Ohio to New York, Tennessee, and eventually to Alabama. She’s gone from interning with Lebron James to becoming one of the first few African American Women to raise over $1M in venture funding. She’s also been named as Entrepreneur Magazine’s “100 Powerful Women” of 2019.

To top it all off, Ashlee has known her co-founder literally her whole life (spoiler alert, they’re related!).

Make sure to listen to her incredible story.

 

“So we’ve done everything from, you know, a trade show to a TEDx
~ Ashlee Ammons

 

In this episode Ashlee and Dan discussed:

  • Interning for LeBron James
  • How an awkward networking event gave birth to Mixtroz
  • Working alongside her mom as Co-Founder
  • The journey from Cleveland to NY to Nashville to Birmingham
  • Where to find the best rollercoasters in the world

 

 

“Someone said to her in an open forum, like, Oh, I’ve heard of your little business, but you’re a black female in the South. This won’t happen for you…
~ Ashlee Ammons

 

“If you made it to 2021, you won because 2020 was all about survival.
~ Ashlee Ammons

 

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

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:


Cascadia Cleantech Accelerator

powered by VertueLab and CleanTech Alliance
This 15-week program delivers mentorship, connections, funding opportunities, and more
For early-stage cleantech startups looking to launch and scale their business.
Applications are open until April 16th. Don’t miss out, apply today at cascadiacleantech.org

AfriBlocks
The global pan-African freelance marketplace and collaboration platform.
Tell them “Dan sent you” for 10% off your first order. More at afriblocks.com

 

 

Special Guest Co-Host:
Veronica Parks from Maveron (@VPinVC)

demystifying credit
one chore at a time

 

Evan Leaphart is the Founder and CEO of Kiddie Kredit, a mobile chore tracking app that teaches kids about credit. The company is out to demystify credit scores with fun, but analogous habits and rewards. They currently focus on young children but their goal ultimately is to serve anyone new to credit.

Evan grew up in the Baltimore area and is one of those founders seemingly born to be just that, a founder. His mom was a flight attendant and he was an only child. So Evan learned at a young age how to be self-sufficient and confident. From lemonade stands and snow removal to cleaning services and auto transport. Evan has been fearlessly taking on venture after venture.

He has called Miami home for over 15 years, so he’s definitely an OG in the newly blossoming Miami tech scene. In addition to Kiddie Kredit, Evan is a Co-founder of the Miami-based Black Men Talk Tech Conference.

Make sure to listen to his compelling story.

 

“…we’re aiming to simplify FICO. So you understand it before you actually need it.
~ Evan Leaphart

 

In this episode Evan, Veronica, and Dan discussed:

  • Growth from having side hustles as a kid
  • Why it took years to start Kiddie Kredit
  • Evan’s three filters to vet investors
  • How credit score has such influence but is so misunderstood
  • Whether Miami really is the next tech hub

 

 

I was really naive when it comes to building a backable business
versus a bankable business
~ Evan Leaphart

 

A year ago, it wasn’t necessarily cool to say you’re a Miami-based business. [Now] That’s the greatest thing you could say.
~ Evan Leaphart

 

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

OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
The Plug

Delivering clear analysis and powerful insights on what’s shaping the Black innovation economy.
Get your annual subscription to The Plug at tpinsights.com

 

Healthcare inequities Too
Long Ignored

 

Ashlee Wisdom is the Founder and CEO of Health in Her HUE,  a digital platform connecting black women to culturally competent healthcare providers, health content, and community.

We’ve been hoping to get Ashlee on the podcast since last June, when she was part of our black women founders panel, right after George Floyd. Ashlee has Jamaican and Bahamian roots but grew up in New York where she diehard represents her home burrow – the Bronx. Her career AND startup reflect a deep passion and dedication to tackling healthcare inequity. It’s immediately evident in her voice, her writing, and all of her efforts. Ashlee’s work has been recognized by Female Founder Alliance, Vital Voices, and the one-and-only Serena Williams. A true founder to watch!

Make sure to listen to her compelling story.

 

“My first job actually really opened my eyes to the inequities in the healthcare system.
~ Ashlee Wisdom

 

In this episode Ashlee and Dan discussed:

  • Growing up in the Bronx – and still living there!
  • Her personal experiences with healthcare inequity
  • How her view working ‘inside’ healthcare moved her to launch her startup
  • The legacy of courageous and inspirational women in her family
  • How even Serena Williams was not immune to inequity in care

 

Episode Shout Outs:
Eddwina Bright (Co-founder)
Females Founders Alliance
Vital Voices
Dr. Ivor Horn

 

 

“ Within the first two weeks of launching  we had 34,000 people login
~ Ashlee Wisdom

MORE on Ashlee and Health in Her Hue

Ashlee:
linkedin.com/in/ashlee-wisdom-mph-7114a040/
twitter.com/AshleeWisdom
instagram.com/ashleejwisdom/

Health in Her HUE:
healthinherhue.com
twitter.com/HealthInHerHUE
instagram.com/healthinherhue/

 

“…then the problem that I’m trying to solve now really burdened me ”
~ Ashlee Wisdom