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Unlocking success: 4 tips from Black women tech leaders

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Tag Archives: Black History Month

Unlocking success: 4 tips from Black women tech leaders

Insightful lessons on financial planning, personal empowerment, purpose-driven leadership and a hustler mindset.


In collaboration with
Black Women Talk Tech, DMZ held an evening designed to highlight the success of Black women in tech by bringing together the ecosystem to spark conversations on how to empower founders best. 

Black Women Talk Tech provides Black women with a platform to voice ideas and access support. Today, it’s become the largest gathering of Black women tech entrepreneurs, inspiring countless others to follow in their footsteps and make their mark in the tech industry. DMZ was thrilled to partner with them for their debut event in Canada.

Here’s a breakdown of the event’s key takeaways for Black women in tech navigating the ecosystem:

  • Plan for financial readiness
  • Harness your personal experiences
  • Identify your north star and go for it
  • Develop a hustler mindset

Our esteemed panel featured a lineup of accomplished individuals:

Here’s what they had to say.

Plan for financial readiness


When it comes to entrepreneurship, financial readiness is everything. Giselle Melo, Founder and General Partner of
MATR Ventures, encourages entrepreneurs to get a head start on financial planning. From understanding your runway to knowing when the optimal time is to seek funding, meticulous planning and financial readiness enabled Melo to launch MATR Ventures in 2021.

By following her lead and having a strong grasp of your finances and where you head as an entrepreneur, you’ll be positioned to turn your dreams into a reality when the timing is right.

Harness your personal experiences


Having established her name in the pharmaceutical industry, Brenda Ahenkorah, the Founder and CEO of
My Well Self, was disappointed to see the lack of support and resources available during her own personal health challenges. After conducting extensive research herself, Brenda realized that she needed to take matters into her own hands and launched My Well Self.

Brenda’s success with My Well Self is a testament to leveraging our personal stories as sources of innovation and motivation to fuel our entrepreneurial pursuits.

Identify your north star and go for it


As the Executive Director and Venture Partner of
League of Innovators and Venture Partner of Capital M Ventures, Melissa Allen’s lesson stems from her own experience that led her to transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship. As a financial advisor, she noticed that her clients — who were women of colour — faced steeper financial challenges than their counterparts. Recognizing that those who thrived often had side hustles, Melissa saw an opportunity for impact, which motivated her to step into entrepreneurship.

For Allen, her driving force comes from a desire to influence positive change and ensure equitable representation at decision-making tables. She emphasized the importance of having a guiding north star to turn to when the journey gets tough, and obstacles are thrown your way. 

Develop a hustler mindset


Ehizogie Agbonlahor, the Founder and CEO of
Anutio, shed light on the importance of developing a hustler mindset. A mindset that can be broken down as unwavering determination and relentless resourcefulness, Ehizogie identified a gap in career guidance tools and decided to develop Anutio. 

Embracing a hustler mindset involves resourcefully leveraging all available means, as demonstrated in her case by tapping into the expertise of her brother’s AI skills to build the platform and by doing everything she possibly could to get her first 500 sign-ups.

Ehizogie teaches us a very important lesson here — avoid waiting around for opportunities; instead, actively seek and create them. 

Feeling inspired? Embark on your entrepreneurial journey with DMZ. Our Black Innovation Programs equip Black founders with the tools, resources and community to succeed. Learn more at dmz.to/BIP and apply today.

 

The biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs in the last year

It’s no secret that wins in the startup ecosystem are tough. Whether it’s securing a grant, closing a round of funding or landing your first big sale, making it takes grit and determination. But, do you know what’s even harder? Doing it all as a Black entrepreneur. 

Black founders face systemic barriers in accessing lucrative entrepreneurship opportunities in Canada. Starting and growing a business is hard, and as a result of the added challenges and obstacles Black founders have to deal with, Canada’s startup ecosystem has a massive underrepresentation of Black-led ventures. 

In light of Black History Month, the DMZ wanted to share the biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs in the last year. While the wheels of change are beginning to spin, we recognize much more still needs to be done and are committed to empowering Black founders with the coaching, mentorship and resources needed to take their business to the next level. 

So, let’s dive into some of the biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs from the last year.

Tunde Omotoye won $20,000 at the DMZ’s inaugural Black Innovation Summit

Black Innovation Pre-Incubator Alumni

CEO and Co-Founder of HumanSquad, Tunde Omotoye, came in 1st place winning $20,000 at the DMZ’s inaugural Black Innovation Summit.

HumanSquad helps newcomers navigate immigration and their career paths by connecting them to licensed immigration consultants in Canada.

“Before joining the DMZ’s Black Innovation Pre-Incubator, we didn’t understand concepts like ‘user journey’ or ‘OKRs’. Now, we understand customer profiling and engagement, and key client-related key performance indicators to look out for that can impact our bottom line and boost our top line.” – Tunde Omotoye, CEO and Co-Founder of HumanSquad


Lola Adeyemi secured $180,000 on Dragons’ Den
Biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs from last year: Lola Adeyemi

AMEX Blueprint Alumni

Lola Adeyemi, Founder and CEO of It’s Souper, pitched her hearty and spicy Afro-fusion soup and sauce line on the iconic CBC show Dragons’ Den.

Recognizing the void for ready-to-eat Nigerian packaged foods, Lola was inspired to bring West African herbs and spices to the North-American market.

 

TruLocal acquired for $16.8 million


Biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs from last year: Marc LafleurTruLocal, a market-leading, locally sourced meat subscription service in Canada, was acquired by Canadian e-commerce Emerge Commerce for $16.8 million.

Founder and CEO Marc Lafleur introduced local farmers, producers and suppliers to the power of e-commerce, connecting them with thousands of loyal, health-conscious consumers across the country.

 

 

Tony Colley named a top social impact founder

Biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs from last year: Tony ColleyBlack Innovation Program Social Impact Stream Alumni

The Founder and CEO of Be One to Give, Tony Colley, was recognized as one of Future of Good’s top 21 social impact founders. The list recognizes founders working on a promising solution for a more equitable, sustainable, caring post-pandemic Canada.

Be One to Give is a food redistribution app for businesses that eliminates avoidable food waste in daily operations.

 

The Urban Guide secured a partnership with the City of Toronto

Black Innovation Program Social Impact Stream Alumni

Biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs from last year: Peter OdlePeter Odle, Founder of the Urban Guide, secured a partnership with the City of Toronto, for a special city-based game called ‘ShowLoveTO Urban Game’. The game encouraged players to use their mobile devices to explore Toronto on New Year’s eve and win prizes.

The Urban Guide is a digital solution that uses self-guided city tours to reconnect people to their cities.

 

Adewunmi Akingbola awarded the Diana Award

Black Innovation Pre-Incubator Alumni

The Founder of HealthDrive Nigeria, Adewunmi Akingbola, was awarded the Diana Award, which recognizes inspirational youth from around the world who have demonstrated their ability to inspire new generations to serve their communities.

HealthDrive Nigeria, an initiative in the South West of Nigeria, aims to raise awareness, test and vaccinate people against Hepatitis B.

 

 

SmartTerm expanded its services to Canada and is now serving Canadian clients 

Black Innovation Incubator Company

SmartTerm, an education management platform, officially expanded into Canada.

Their solution digitizes school processes leading to improved efficiencies for governments, school administrators, teachers and students.

 

“Being able to incorporate our business in Canada was one of our biggest achievements with the DMZ so far.” – Jayme Hoyte, Co-Founder of SmartTerm.

Reeddi selected as a finalist for Prince William’s Earthshot Prize

Black Innovation Pre-Incubator Alumni

Launched by Prince William and the Royal Foundation, the Earthshot Prize is the most prestigious global environment prize in history. Further, the prize aims to turn the current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism, by highlighting the ability of human ingenuity to bring about change.

Founder of Reedi, Olugbenga Olubanjo, was a finalist for the award; his solution provides portable rechargeable battery units to consumers from a vending machine powered by solar panels.

 

Reyts,Welkom-U and Be One to Give secured their chance to pitch at the DMZ’s upcoming Black Innovation Summit

Black Innovation Program Social Impact Stream Alumni

oluwatosin-tosin-ajibola-e in grey blazerAyobami Macaula and Abimbola Adegbite, Co-Founders of Reyts, Oluwatosin Ajibola, Founder of Welkom-U, and Tony Colley, Founder and CEO of Be One to Give, from the DMZ’s Black Innovation Program Social Impact Stream came out on top at their cohort’s demo day.

abimbola in maroon coatWhile all of the startups are working with a social mission and purpose, the three companies are zeroing in on different societal issues. Reyts is a marketplace that allows individuals to swap currencies in a seamless and secure way. Welkom-U focuses on improving the experience of immigrants to Canada so they can become contributing members of society faster, and Be One to Give is a food redistribution app for businesses that eliminates avoidable food waste in daily operations.

The three companies will have the chance to pitch their startup for funding at the DMZ’s annual Black Innovation Summit.

“Trying to launch a payment service with [Black] skin is almost impossible and because of the help of the DMZ we are so close to our goal after one-and-a-half years of trying, trying and trying. It’s hard to [be told] no, and it’s hard [to be told no] because of who you are. We are now 1 email away from everything we have been working towards.” – Ayobami Macaula, Co-Founder and COO of Reyts

The celebration of Black founders in the ecosystem doesn’t end here. On February 24th the DMZ will be hosting its second annual Black Innovation Summit to showcase Black innovation in Canada. Plus, we’ll be giving away $50,000 in total funding to Black-led startups at the DMZ.

 

Want to tune in to see the next generation of Black founders pitch at the DMZ’s Black Innovation Summit? Register here

Learn more about the DMZ’s Black Innovation Programs here.