);

  

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

 

 

 

  

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

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE: The Plug
(get $10 off an annual subscription to TPInsights with code “unfound“)

DIGITAL MOMENTS BECOME REAL MAIL FOR THOSE INCARCERATED

 

Marcus Bullock is as rare as they come. A master motivator, charismatic leader, and passionate changemaker. A founder and CEO of TWO companies. All of that is impressive, but not necessarily unique. What makes him the exception to the exception? He’s accomplished what he has despite spending his young formative years in adult, maximum-security prison. 

What got Marcus through his prison time?

It was a piece of mail from his mom EVERY SINGLE day until the day he was released. A letter, note, or seemingly random picture could create hope and positivity, which in turn fueled the will to persevere and thrive. 

Marcus has now turned his experience into a company: Flikshop. Friends, loved ones, as well as attorneys and other allies, can use Flikshop to send caring sentiments and images, or informational critical for the re-entry process. Listen in to hear more!

 

“…Don’t visit me anymore. I won’t talk to you anymore.
Start grieving now.

~ Marcus Bullock

Marcus and Dan talked about his startup journey, as well as:

  • The big mistake that cost him eight years of his life
  • Marcus’ incarceration journey from denial to despair to survival 
  • How the cards are stacked against re-entering citizens when they leave prison
  • How Marcus responded to the startup call, not once but twice!
  • Why Flikshop is more than just a postcard – it’s a lifeline of hope
  • Having the triple hurdle: black founder, with a criminal record, and no formal education

 

Episode Shout Outs:
John Legend Unlocked Futures

 

“It allowed me to learn not only what venture capital looked like, but the language of venture.
~ Marcus Bullock

 

MORE on MARCUS AND FLIKSHOP

MARCUS:
twitter.com/_marcus_bullock
Marcus TED talk

FLIKSHOP:
flikshop.com
twitter.com/flikshop
linkedin.com/in/flikshop/

“…now I walk the world not even feeling the pressure of being a founder of color with a felony.”
~ Marcus Bullock

 

 

 

 

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

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE: The Plug
(get $10 off an annual subscription to TPInsights with code “unfound“)

HELPING mILLENIALS CONNECT TO THE CONTINENT IN EXCITING WAYS

 

Cheraé Robinson has one of those personalities. Five minutes into a conversation with her and you quickly realize how people gravitate to her passion instantly. Her company, Tastemakers Africa,  is on a mission to change perspectives and perceptions of Africa. As she puts it, Africa is more than a place to volunteer or be in the Lion King. Cheraé was generous to do our podcast in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic. Her startup, with a foundation in travel, is evolving day-by-day. She wanted to share this season with others, in real-time as the story unfolds.

 

“…you sort of know that you need to be a different level of excellent.
~ Cheraé Robinson

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

  • Benefits and challenges of attending an HBCU
  • Lifelong calling to Africa, installed by her family
  • Leaving her corporate office the day she knew she wouldn’t ever be back
  • Dealing with the radical changes required from the COVID-19 crisis
  • Discovering our mutual friend Erik Blachford
  • Being a black woman founder

 

Episode Shout Outs:
Flybridge Capital
Precursor Ventures
She Leads Africa
Helene Gayle, AA Exec legend

 

“McKinsey wasn’t recruiting at Morgan, so there were so many things that I didn’t know were an option.
~ Cheraé Robinson

 

MORE on CHERAÉ and TASTEMAKERS AFRICA

CHERAÉ:
twitter.com/sasyrae
linkedin.com/in/cheraerobinson/

instagram.com/sasyrae/

TASTEMAKERS AFRICA:
twitter.com/tstmkrsafrica
tastemakersafrica.com

 

“…it was the discomfort of the bro world.”
~Cheraé Robinson

 

 

 

 

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

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE: Trajectory Series

 

CONNECTING MENTAL HEALTH AND THE TALE OF JOHN HENRY

 

As a public health advocate and consultant, Kevin Dedner was well aware of the disparities in the health and longevity of black men in America. African American men have the lowest life expectancy of any group…67 years of age. This number is in stark contrast to their white counterparts who see life spans into the early 80s on average.

Dr. Sherman James described this impact as “John Henryism” based on the folktale of steel driver John Henry. As the story goes, John was a black man and the best in the land at driving steel into mountainsides – necessary for the building of railroad tunnels. He was challenged to race a machine – a steam-driven hammer. He defeated the machine, and then had a heart attack and died.  Dr. James saw this as a metaphor for the life of the American black man. Basically: work at full capacity ALL THE TIME, with all the extra stresses and striving, which results in a shorter life.

So with this as a backdrop, Kevin undertook his own personal journey in mental health. His epiphany from the experience: finding a provider is a big challenge AND cultural context of your therapy matters.

When his co-founder Oliver asked him if he as interested in digital mental health Kevin knew what his calling would be. Henry Health (named for John Henry) was born in 2018. The company is building a digital platform that provides culturally sensitive teletherapy services. Their first community is, as you would expect, black men. Dan and Kevin talked about his background, the origin story of Henry Health, and certainly the current situation with the Coronavirus pandemic.

What else did they cover? Listen in and find out!

 

“And so, when I was choosing a therapist, it was literally like eeny, meeny, miny, moe…
~ Kevin Dedner

Kevin and Dan talked about his startup journey, as well as:

  • Attending the high school where Brown vs Board of Education was tested
  • His personal journey with mental health
  • How Kevin and his team are coping with COVID-19 crisis
  • A shout out to the Transparent Collective
  • The “questions behind the questions” from investors

 

Episode Shout Outs:
Transparent Collective
Startup Health
 Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab
Dr. Sherman James

 

“We have pointed out a 100 year old problem that payers,
public health leaders are all aware of…
~ Kevin Dedner

 

MORE on KEVIN and HENRY HEALTH

KEVIN:
https://twitter.com/kdedner
linkedin.com/in/kevin-dedner-mph-
HxD Conference Video

 

HENRY HEALTH:
https://twitter.com/HenryHealthApp
https://www.henry-health.com

“I lost so much time by not having a technical person…”
~Kevin Dedner

 

 

 

Buy A Shirt Donate $5

Get a  ‘Humanity over Calamity’ shirt today and support the
COVID-19 Response Fund

With each purchase, we donate $5. Founders Unfound won’t make a dime. You only pay the cost to produce the shirt, the $US 5.00 donation, and any S&H. 

Shirts are available for April 2020. If they are popular, we will look into extending things. But pick one up today!

We Want to help

Hey Unfound Nation. We truly hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, and doing your part to protect those around you. 

WHY HUMANITY over CALAMITY?

We believe in one another. Our common humanity, compassion, and resilience can overcome any uncommon crisis or disaster. We wanted to help spread a message of hope and community.

WHY THE CDP?

Founders Unfound is all about highlighting exceptional entrepreneurs who come from underrepresented backgrounds. So, during this challenging time, we thought hard about where to aim our support. At first, we saw a natural fit with those programs directly benefiting startups and small businesses. But as we pondered deeper, we realized that there is a larger humanitarian need in these early days of the pandemic. 

We’ve decided to support the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) and their COVID-19 Response Fund. This well-regarded organization emerged from Hurricane Katrina and now has a broad mandate. They are helping first responders, hospital workers, as well as those who are most vulnerable or underserved in the midst of this crisis.

PLEASE JOIN US TODAY

We hope you consider purchasing a shirt. Your donation will help and you get to rock a nice shirt with a GREAT message.

If you are inspired by what the CDP is doing, you can also donate directly with them from the link below.

Thanks for your support.

DONATE DIRECTLY

 

 

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

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE: Founders Live

 

HAVE YOU GOT AI?
JUST ADD WATER

 

Dr. Kala Fleming has a passion to bring technology to the places and people where it can have a dramatic impact. All the way back to her time with IBM, she’s pursued projects that help solve healthcare, food security…and water. These fundamental needs lead Dr. Fleming to found Diaspora.ai as a vehicle to tackle these challenges head-on It’s this last essential, water, that preoccupies her current startup,  SMAJI, which is using AI to address water scarcity. The company employs a combination of technology and human feedback to accurately assess and validate water levels for property managers, in near real-time.

 

What else did they cover? Listen in and find out!

 

“water scarcity and shortages…invade lives every day
~ Dr. Kala Fleming

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

  • Growing up in Antigua, a water-challenged island
  • Going from the Virgin Islands to Wisconsin – brrrrrr!
  • A Ph.D. dissertation on…you guessed it…water.
  • AfroTech and Founders Gym
  • Resisting pre-conceived notions

 

“…how do you make AI visible to everyone?
~ Dr. Kala Fleming

MORE on KALA AND SMAJI

KALA:
https://twitter.com/thekalafleming
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kalafleming/
TED talk

SMAJI and DIASPORA:
https://twitter.com/SMAJIcloud
https://www.smaji.ai/
https://twitter.com/diasporatech
https://diasporaai.com/

“…get to having 1 million properties, in the next five years…it’s just
scratching the surface”

~Dr. Kala Fleming

 

 

 

 

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

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE: Founders Live

 

transforming entertainment
with Pay-what-you-want

 

Kahlil Ashanti has one amazing and unique journey. Starting with a challenging childhood, to the Air Force, to performing in Caesar’s Palace, to an award-winning show on Broadway…and even to Hollywood.

In this episode Dan spoke with Kahlil about his startup weshowup – a company that works with venues and artists to serve event audiences the option to “pay what you want.” The conversation ranged across many topics, including the origin story of weshowup, which includes an experiment with Kahlil’s own show – netting 82% more revenue than with a fixed price!

What else did they cover? Listen in and find out!

 

“So I rolled into Iowa at age eleven and people are like, where did this brother come from?
~ Kahlil Ashanti

Kahlil and Dan talked about his startup journey, as well as:

  • The Air Force as “the family business”
  • A military version of American Idol
  • Doing a one-man show on Broadway
  • His adventures in Hollywood
  • Leveraging the network

 

“There was nothing online, nothing like that. And so I built it.
~ Kahlil Ashanti

 

MORE on KAHLIL AND WESHOWUP

Kahlil:
twitter.com/kahlilashanti
kahlilashanti.com
TED talk

weshowup company site:
weshowup.io

 

“…comparison is the thief of joy”
~Kahlil Ashanti

 

 

 

 

Full Transcript

LOCAL CRAFT BREWS GO GLOBAL

 

Brooke Sinclair has a great job: take tasty, unique beverages from independent craft brands, and bring them to eager taste buds around the world. She has a unique background: a family engineering heritage (she’s a self-professed tech ‘nerd’), theater, non-profit, and corporate logistics. She’s also a vibrant member of the startup community as an alum of Founder Institute and a Scout for Female Founded Club.

In this podcast episode, Dan spoke with Brooke about her startup Velour Imports – a company developing technology to bring craft brands from your local neighborhood across the planet. The conversation ranged across many topics, including of course the wonderful origin story of Velour. What else did they cover? Listen in and find out!

 

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE: Washington Technology Industry Association

 

“Never accept a ‘no’ from someone who didn’t have the authority to give me ‘yes.’
~ Brooke Sinclair

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

  • How religion contributed to Velour’s beginnings
  • being trapped in an airport for 7 days
  • whether Brooke gets to sample the beers she exports
  • A shout out to MS-DOS

 

“Make a dollar out of 15 cents, and then using your nonprofit skills
to get three uses out of every $1” ~ Brooke Sinclair

 

MORE on BROOKE and Velour Imports

Brooke on LinkedIn:
linkedin.com/in/brookesinclair

Velour Imports company site:
https://www.velourimports.com/

or check them out on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/velourimports

 

“So the nerd in my runs deep”
~Brooke Sinclair

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

FIT, FUNCTION AND FASHION WHEN YOU ARE NOT OFF-THE-RACK

 

AK Ikwuakor, or “Coach AK” as he prefers, is a man of many talents. He’s been both a collegiate and Olympic athlete. Motivational speaker. Educator and Social impact entrepreneur. And even dabbled in some standup. In this podcast episode, however, Dan spoke with him as Co-Founder and CEO of ELETE Styles – a startup on a mission to create professional attire with fit, function, and fashion for the athlete build.

ELETE takes the broadest view of the value it adds. From athletes to first responders to returning war vets who need adaptive apparel. Men, women, casual, formal…and everything in between. 

AK’s life journey has included Olympic trials, world travel, and even a stint of being homeless. How does all this connect with an eCommerce startup?

Listen in and find out!

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE: Black Men Talk Tech

 

The future of the fashion industry…what represents 100% you”
~Coack AK

Coach AK and Dan talked about AK’s journey and ELETE, as well as:

  • life as a triplet
  • giving two weeks’ notice to start a non-profit
  • the risks of a cold drink abroad
  • working with manufacturers in China and Thailand
  • analogy of life as a 400M race

 

“We had to come up with a large amount of money, in a short amount of time ” ~ Coach AK

 

Notable ELETE Interview Highlights.

  • (04:14) How ELETE works to bring consumers custom attire 
  • (09:00) How AK’s love of his mom’s homecooking led to ELETE’s origin story
  • (15:05) The challenges of making ONLY one piece (vs. 1000) for a custom design
  • (16:55) Complexities of tariffs and currencies for a global business
  • (23:35) Powerful origin story of AK’s NGO startup Empower 2 Play
  • (33:10) The 400M race as a metaphor for life 
  • (41:21) AK’s adventures as an Olympic athlete
  • (46:44) Personal choices, perspectives, and growth
  • (50:00) Sources of influence: mentors, friends, enemies, and books

 

MORE on ELETE 

Coach AK’s Youtube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/askcoachak

E-LETE company site:
https://www.eletestyles.com/

or check them out on Linkedin:
linkedin.com/company/eletestyles/

 

“…just do something fun… and I just brought a bag of footballs ”
~Coach AK