Profile 34 : CARICLUB


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

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

Founder Story Nugget

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

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

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

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


Sky Kelley, Founder + CEO

Profile 33 : AVISARE


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

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

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

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


Founder Story Nugget

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

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

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

Profile 32 : LANDEd


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

The company has raised over $US 11M.

Founder Story Nugget

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

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

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

~Excerpts from PYMNTS article, by Staff, April 2019

Profile 31 : MENTED


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

Founder Story Nugget

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

~ Mented Cosmetics Website



Profile 30 : GirLs auto clinic


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

Founder Story Nugget

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

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

~Excerpts from PatriceBanks.com


Profile 29 : 4D HEALTHWARE


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

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

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

Founder Story Nugget

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

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



Profile 28 : Flora


Flora is an app and community with a big mission — to make mindfulness enjoyable and accessible for all. Through gamification, the app incentivizes greener habits and environmentally-friendly behavior as members earn coins that can be exchanged for rewards and prizes.

Founder Story Nugget

“R&B artist and now tech startup founder, Kehlani has been a very busy woman. Not only did she just announce her pregnancy, but today she is officially announcing the launch of her new app, Flora, an app that inspires young people to make positive changes in their lives.

Kehlani is joined by her co-founders, Reid Williams, COO, and Alaxic Smith, CTO and designer. They got the idea after the two started off with their own streaming service, where Kehlani conducted her first virtual release party. “We decided to come together and said hey, as a developer, a marketing strategist, communications guy and me, how could we do something that really benefits our generation,” stated Kehlani. That started the birth of Flora.”

~Black Enterprise, October 2018



  • Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins,
    Co-Founder + CEO
  • joinpromise.com , @phaedrael
  • Founded 2017
  • Roc Nation, Y Combinator,
    Kapor Capital, First Round

Profile 27 : PROMISE


Promise was founded to make a meaningful impact on America’s criminal justice system. They believe alternatives to incarceration can create safer and stronger communities. Their solution emphasizes the concept of “decarceration” for the twelve million people who cycle through local jails in the US every year, most of whom are pretrial and can’t afford bail. Their platform provides technology and tools for released individuals, administrative agencies, and government leaders.

Founder Story Nugget

“I came out of a community that didn’t have many resources. There were violent households. Families doomed by drugs. My life was fortunate. I did labor organizing for South Bay Labor Council. I advised Prince on digital-rights management. I ran revenue at Honor, a home health care startup.

Then a friend called and said there were bounty hunters at her door. Someone she loved had missed a hearing, and there was a warrant out for his arrest. He was so scared. He just wanted to keep working, to support his family. He had no money for a lawyer or bail.

We called the public defender and had it fixed in five minutes. But many people don’t have the resources to work the system. The reality is that it’s broken. People of color are being arrested for sleeping. For walking. For shopping.

Seventy percent of people held in county jails have not been convicted of a crime. They can’t afford bail and are just waiting for a trial. It leads to prison overcrowding. The longer you’re in, the likelier you are to lose your job, be separated from your family, and end up back in jail. My co-founder and I realized we needed a technology that gets people to court, so they won’t be jailed for missing a date. We also want the private bail industry to die.”

~Excerpts from Inc Magazine article, by Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, August 2018


  • Mary Spio, Founder + CEO
  • ceek.com , @CEEK
  • Founded 2015
  • Black Angel Tech Fund

Profile 26 : CEEK


Based in Sacramento, CEEK Global Innovations is helping lead the way for mobile VR entertainment. CEEK VR simulates the communal experience of attending a live concert, being in a classroom, attending a sporting event and other ‘money can’t buy’ exclusive experiences with friends from anywhere at any time. Their mission is to make virtual reality experiences universally accessible and enjoyable. The award-winning enterprise has delivered VR experiences for the likes of Katy Perry, Quavo, and Lady Gaga. Most recently the company has developed blockchain-based ticketing for artists to sell access to virtual entertainment events they host or perform.

Founder Story Nugget

“…as an entrepreneur raising capital, I ran into challenges. When I launched Gen2Media, we were doing a million before beta. We had an investor come in to help us raise capital and he said he was having a hard time because no one was writing checks to black women and he needed a white male at the helm. Then he got my other partners (they were all equal partners) on his side and I was forced out of my own company.

This was a company I built with every dime I had. We had 26 employees. That was the toughest thing I have gone through, and it happened not because of something I did but because of who I am.

…I decided I really wanted to build my own company again. I participated in a Google for Entrepreneurs program and we visited Facebook and I saw the Oculus [the virtual reality headset maker that Facebook later purchased]. I always loved 3D movies. I tried it on and I said oh my god this is exactly what I want to do forever and ever. Everything was leading up to this point. It was religious for me. I said I would love to watch a movie this way, I would love to deliver education this way, healthcare this way. I said I gotta build something that I can enjoy this thing with.”

~Excerpts from Miami Herald article, by Nancy Dahlberg, March 2015

James Norman, Founder + CEO



Profile 24 : Pilotly


Pilotly is building the big data pipeline behind media entertainment. 

Pilotly is working to solve the problem that today’s content creators waste nearly a billion dollars a year on videos that either never find an audience or never find proper distribution. Their technology platform enables media publishers to run digital focus groups at scale with precise audience segmentation, to collect and aggregate data that displays instantly to an online dashboard. 

Pilotly’s technology creates meaningful engagements between content creators and global audiences so that creators can gather detailed feedback at scale that can ultimately better their business outcomes.


Founder Story Nugget

James Norman is a serial entrepreneur who built his first company at the age of 16, an aftermarket automotive e-commerce site called MJH Sound.com. While he previously may have been known as a visionary in automotive product planning, over the past 8 years he has become a thought leader in the media and entertainment industry, particularly in over-the-top media and consumer video consumption behaviors. In 2008, James founded Ubi Video, one of the first aggregators of all things streaming video. After Ubi was acquired by an MVPD, he moved on to develop GroupFlix, an a-la-carte streaming service. His latest venture is Pilotly, a consumer insights platform that enables content creators to get feedback from audiences at scale. ~Up Next Podcast

“My beginnings are far from Hollywood. I was born in Lansing, Michigan and around Detroit. I’m a Gearhead. Back in the mid-nineties, I actually had built my first website where we sold car audio online, and I did that all the way through college where I was doing Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan. At that point, we transitioned to L.A because at that point we were building entire cars for manufacturers…things you could call tricked out cars.” ~from the Pilotly website