Geekz Ventures announced the 10 startups for its inaugural cohort program.The GROWTH pre-accelerator program supports Black and Latinx-led early-stage companies from any industry, with a focus on MediaTech, Entertainment, and Mobile Technology. Applicants were assessed on their product, video pitch, potential impact, and capacity to build a scalable business.
Kicking off in March 2023, the highly competitive 10-week program offers training, mentorship, and resources to help founders build successful businesses. Geekz Ventures provides access to world-class mentors and coaches, peer-to-peer networking, and an equity-free grant with the possibility for follow-up funding.
Topics such as branding, scaling operations, knowing your numbers, product market fit, and emotional intelligence in leadership will be covered.
In addition, founders participate in workshops and one-to-one office hours. They will also gain media exposure, including opportunities to be featured on the digital news platform, UrbanGeekz.
Geekz Ventures is founded by award-winning BBC-trained journalist-turned-serial entrepreneur Kunbi Tinuoye. Former WeWork Enablement executive Brandon Wilkins will serve as the program manager.
“We were inundated with applications,” says Tinuoye.” After a rigorous application process, we have selected founding teams that we truly believe can build sustainable and scalable brands.”
Geekz Ventures program manager Brandon Wilkins says, “What’s exciting me the most is being able to witness up-and-coming black-founded tech startups. Black people still represent the tech space in low numbers, and I’m excited to see the innovation and growth.”
Speaking about one startup that has caught his eye, Wilkins cites The Barter Shop. Aimed at creating an inclusive micro-economy for small businesses and solopreneurs, the startup was founded in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the home of Black Wall Street. For Wilkins, “with the history of what happened there, this takes determination and great bravery.”
Mentors and coaches include Mandela SH Dixon, the former CEO of All Raise, a non-profit on a mission to accelerate the success of female and non-binary investors, founders, and operators in tech.
Gary Stewart, MD of Techstars NYC powered by J.P. Morgan, joins Hodge Dixon alongside other high-profile leaders in the media or tech startup ecosystem.
Other mentors include Kathryn O’Day, partner at Atlanta Ventures; Marguerite Pressley Davis, founder of Finance Savvy CEO, Aniyia L. Williams, Principal at Omidyar Network, and Terry (Kojo) Oppong, Creator Manager at LinkedIn, among others.
“I am impressed with the cohort of early-stage founders that Geekz Ventures has assembled and proud to serve as a mentor,” says Danielle Nicholson, Geekz Ventures coach, and founder and CEO of BuilderBloc, a legal and business advisory firm that works with early-stage founders in emerging markets. “I look forward to providing these founders with the legal guidance required to build a solid foundation for future success.”
Geekz Ventures also provides an outlet for its entrepreneurs to work on their emotional health, professional relationships, and stress management.
Meet the 10 Startups:
Hailing from North Carolina, Hayti is the largest Black-owned app that aggregates digital content from newspapers, magazines, videos, and podcasts highlighting content from Black content creators around the world. Founded by Cary Wheelous, Hayti is the first mobile app to feature over 200+ Black publishers and over 1,000 Black Podcasters on both Android and iOS.
Founded by Victor Williamson, Animteam is the first collaborative editing app for traditional 2D frame-by-frame animation. Animators can paint digitally, animate on a timeline, and collaborate in real time on their animated projects.
Founded by Sophronia McKenzie, visuEats is a restaurant web and mobile app that provides photo and video menus creating an interactive and personalized dining experience. visuEats’ turnkey solution offers the restaurant industry a digital menu with reservations, online ordering, and delivery within one platform.
InColorStock’s membership-based model enables photographers to directly showcase their work to brands and companies looking to license racially diverse and culturally accurate stock content that gets it right. InColorStock is founded by veteran journalist and producer Claritza Jimenez.
Founded by Summer “Soulstress Williams, Lyricster is a collaboration matching app and social network for music creators. We are the solution to organic discovery, networking, and relationship building for songwriters, producers, and composers around the world.
Spawnn is an AI highlight reel detection and data analysis platform for gamers. By finding gamers’ most viral moments, we are focused on building for the over 1 billion people that watch video gaming content every day. Spawnn is the brainchild of the University of Southern California grads Buchi Obi and Will Hollingsworth
7. ALIVE Podcast Network
Consider us the black Spotify for podcasts. We educate our hosts and entertain our listeners all while building a robust interface to interact and engage with the hosts you love. We’re the media tech company that’s helping black content creators monetize their content, and amplify their voice, all while maintaining ownership of their IP. ALIVE Podcast Network is founded by Angel Livas.
8. Seed At The Table
Seed At The Table is a tech-enabled Financial Ecosystem operating as an LLC (not a fund) that’s committed to providing its community of diverse professionals and entrepreneurs with equitable access to capital, opportunity, and resources. Seed At The Table LLC, provides three primary solutions in the form of access to a resource-rich and affinity-aligned network, financial literacy education, and capital access. Founder Pierre Le Veaux is the brains behind the brand.
9. The Barter Shop
Founded by Shanice Brown, The Barter Shop mobile app is a revolutionary marketplace that empowers small businesses and individuals to thrive in times of need. The Barter Shop platform allows users to exchange services without the need for money, creating a micro-economy that is community-focused and inclusive.
10. PrimoStatsFounded by Shayla Price , PrimoStats is a searchable database of curated marketing statistics. We help content marketers find and cite relevant statistics to add credibility to their content. That way, content marketers can work smarter, not harder.