The first full day of Black Wall Street Homecoming
culminated in what has become the norm for startup events—a pitch competition. Yet, the Black Wall Street Homecoming angle was clear: connect companies with a wider network.
, the Durham staple Irish pub, hosted the evening event, complete with outdoor stage and professional lighting. Ten founders pitched on a stage surrounded by sleek signage and Christmas lights.
Competitors were prohibited from using pitch decks and product demonstrations. Instead, they had four minutes to convince the judges—Diishan Imara
and Christina Francis
and Ryan Smith
of Magic Johnson Enterprises
—that their startup was worthy of a $2,500 investment from Magic Johnson Enterprises.
In sharp contrast to the typical competition demographics, all the participants and judges were African American.
, a former Winston-Salem State University football player, took home the $2,500 prize for InspireInYou
, his startup dedicated to making the process of finding resources for those suffering from mental health issues easier and more effective. On winning, he says, “the money is good, but just being in the room was worth coming.”
, former CODE 2040
EIR and Black Wall Street Homecoming co-founder, says “that’s what happens at our events, everyone walks off with a larger network.” Because he says and the other organizers, “believe early stage entrepreneurs need support and a network even more than money.”
Francis says Magic Johnson Enterprises has made six to seven recent investments, including a recent cash infusion in Tristan Walker’s Walker and Co. Brand. She says Earvin “Magic” Johnson is interested in investments in companies that align with his company’s mission, to “foster community and economic empowerment by providing access to high-quality entertainment, products and services that answer the demands of multicultural communities.”
Francis says all the pitching teams, “had good ideas,” but that InspireInYou’s positive mission resonated with the judges. The judges also believed that the existing traction the startup already had achieved “could help the startup move forward faster.”
We collected a rundown of the other nine pitch contestants below. Keep an eye out for more coverage on Black Wall Street Homecoming from us the rest of the week.
’s founder explained her media company’s mission, “to expose all children to positive images of culturally diverse characters.” And hinted that new content was in the works thanks to a new partnership with Nascar. See previous ExitEvent coverage
for more background on Johnson and the Durham-based startup.
was born when founder, Corey Freeman
, was traveling and couldn’t find a good party to attend while out on the town. His platform is designed as a “one-stop-shop for finding night clubs and parties in major cities across the country.” They’re seeking seed capital to scale the network and platform and hire new staff.
A “cash-back platform”, Adsmoi
allows shoppers to donate the “cash-back” savings they earn to any cause when they make a purchase with a partner company. Just two years after founding the company, the founder, Chad Qualls
said the startup already boasts over 1700 partnerships with companies like Wal-Mart, Lowes, Travelocity and Hotels.com.
Founder Cary Wheelous
pitched the telehealth platform
designed to help universities increase student engagement in their personal health so as to increase health among their student populations. Their first partnership is in the works with a North Carolina HBCU.
, a ride-matching app for college students differs from other platforms like Uber and Lyft in a couple key ways. Founder Terrel Davis
says the app is exclusively for students and faculty, fees are determined by the rider and are donations only, and women can request female drivers. They’ve raised $25,000 already and are hoping to raise $50,000 more to expand to 10 new schools in 2017.
, founder of Try Hypothesis
explained that his startup helps “increase interoperability between medical devices by retrofitting existing medical devices that are not that smart to make them smart.”
The pitch contest’s runner-up seeks to solve some of America’s biggest societal problems in one app. Gunbail
provides non-violent offenders a safe platform to willingly surrender their illegal guns in exchange for bail release. Founder Trevor Brooks
explained it gets guns off the streets and simultaneously reduces the number of inmates in jails.
App DuJourApp DuJour
helps connect restaurants and food trucks to customers by highlighting menu items tailored to their customers’ preferences. Founder Sharifa Felix
says she’s seeking CTO’s to ready the app for launch.
The Releaf Group
Founder Uzoma Ayogu
said, “the Nigerian economy is growing at rapid rates but failing to compete in agriculture and entrepreneurship due to disunity, brain drain, and a lack of action.” His platform
connects the Nigerian diaspora spread across the world to Nigerian-based businesses, helping return talent back to the country and helping the local businesses grow.