Celebrating Black Founders

This post was written by India Hayes, former It Takes a Village Program Manager and Founder, Mini City.

Black History Month, a vital celebration of African Americans perseverance, innovation and fortitude is truly a month that is deserving of celebration year round. Founded in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves, this month was chosen as it captures the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. While 2020, and many years in the past, have been rife with racial tensions, political unrest and mistrust, we are choosing to look to 2021 as an opportunity for great change. With Atlanta being a tech hub of innovation for founders of color, and often called a Black Mecca, I would like to take time to highlight our black founders and their thoughts on 2021. We asked them one simple question:

What does it mean to you to be a founder of color in 2021 and how do you hope to be a catalyst for change in future years to come?

Joel Nkounkou: Founder & CEO of ecoText, Cohort #6

Being a founder of color, it’s never lost on me how that status is perceived by my peers, teammates, family, community, and the general business world. With only a fraction of institutional investments making it to black and brown founders, we have become an instant statistical outliner. Having communities like the Atlanta Tech Village, psychology erases such notions. It’s a collaborative space where everyone is pursuing a venture while in parallel seeking to make equitable disruption.

As a founder, I find the ability to contribute to unlocking someone’s potential via the equitable solutions we bring to the market is the ultimate win. This effect overtime changes that statistical outliner to an observable trend, and I am proud to push the needle forward. 

Joel Nkounkou

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Trellis Usher: Founder & CEO of Nova Health LabsCohort #5

Being a founder of color in 2021 is a position of privilege. For me that means using whatever platform and networks I have to empower my community by creating more inclusive, equitable, and psychologically safe spaces for Black women within and beyond the tech startup ecosystem.   

JT Liddell: Founder of Promenade, Cohort 6

In the military veteran community, BIPOC individuals have the MOST challenges navigating post-military life. That is why we built Promenade. Spaces like ITAV have helped amplify the work we are doing and provided a foundation for us to TAKE OFF.

Lundyn Carter + Tiffany Gaines Founders of Laine London, Cohort #2

Being founders of color in 2021 for us, means being resilient and optimistic that a new day is upon us.  That our hard work and perseverance has not gone unnoticed and not only have we made it through one of the most difficult years in modern history, but we are thriving and contributing substantially to society.  Our hope is that our journey inspires and motivates future black & brown entrepreneurs all over the world.

David Hailey: Founder of Countalytics, Cohort #1

As a father of two young black boys, being a founder in 2021 is less about me and more about them, the children like them, in Atlanta and beyond. The mantra “With hard work and dedication anything is possible” seems like fiction to many youth with such strong external forces like civil unrest, police brutality and a global pandemic affecting our daily lives.   Like the many black founders that guided me, I want to show others that there are ways to be successful outside of the accepted “traditional” paths. Starting, and building your own company can be one of the most rewarding things you can ever do.