Geekz Ventures is a virtual pre-accelerator program geared towards underestimated entrepreneurs launching their first tech-enabled startup.
The industry-agnostic accelerator is on a mission to play a major part in the change that is driving diverse entrepreneurship forward.
We caught up with Geekz Ventures creator, Kunbi Tinuoye to find out more about her plan to empower the next generation of tech founders.
What inspired you to start Geekz Ventures?
Eight years ago, I launched my multimedia platform UrbanGeekz with zero funding and extremely limited resources. Starting a brand from scratch and navigating the whole entrepreneurial journey was tough. I made mistakes and was forced to learn the hard way.
Now that I’ve been in the game for so long, I want to share my resources to help entrepreneurs sustain, scale, and grow their businesses. My goal is to give overlooked talent the tools to achieve profitability, outside investment, and the networks to help them at the early stages of building their tech-enabled startup.
There are also a whole host of other issues, including systemic racism, that disadvantage Black and Brown founders at no fault of their own. Geekz Ventures is looking to be part of the change that is driving diverse entrepreneurship forward. We are seeking to level the playing field.
Finally, supporting early-stage startups is something I’ve been quietly doing in the background for some time. For several years I volunteered as a lead startup mentor for ‘The Farm’, a Comcast NBCUniversal-powered accelerator program headquartered in Atlanta. I have also hosted several workshops for the ‘It Takes A Village’, an accelerator for startups led by women and people of color.
What would you say differentiates Geekz Ventures from other startup accelerators?
I’ve been in the trenches working as a founder for nearly a decade. It’s not for the faint-hearted. I genuinely want to help founders take their vision to the next level. No equity is taken from those selected to participate and at this stage, we won’t be taking a fee for the inaugural cohort.
I am passionate about putting money into the hands of minority founders because mentorship simply isn’t enough. Our goal is to give all the founders equity-free microgrants to send a message that we truly believe in their work.
Who are some of the mentors involved?
We have curated a group of heavyweight industry experts to work side-by-side with our cohort founders. The advice, knowledge, and expertise that these individuals will pass on will be transformational for many of our founders.
Our Mentors and Coaches include Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon, CEO of All Raise; Terry (Kojo) Oppong, Creator Manager at LinkedIn; Jon Gosier, founder and CEO at FilmHedge; Kathryn O’Day; partner at Atlanta Ventures, and Gary Stewart, founder, and CEO of FounderTribes, Mark Morel, CEO at QModo AI, Inc., among others.
We have been thoughtful and intentional in building our team. All our mentors and coaches have specialist industry expertise that covers key stages of the entrepreneurial cycle.
So for example, one of our mentors Danielle J.Nicholson, is a skilled attorney and strategic advisor with over fifteen years of legal and business experience in both the private and public sectors. She’ll work with our founders on the legal requirements for starting a business, that’s everything from business incorporation to trademarks and patents.
Marguerite Pressley Davis, founder, and CEO of Finance Savvy CEO, will help founders understand their financials. Davis has a track record of helping entrepreneurs build their business financial confidence so they can make profit-driven business decisions.
Aniyia Williams is a principal on the Responsible Technology team at Omidyar Network. Previously, Williams founded the fashion tech company, Tinsel, which invented the world’s first audio necklace, designed in response to a lack of electronics developed for women. She’ll support founders in scaling a business, without necessarily getting venture funding.
Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon, CEO of All Raise, has a wealth of experience training underrepresented founders on how to raise capital to scale their tech startups. She’ll give a session on the ins and outs of venture capital fundraising.
Yale-educated Gary Stewart is the newly appointed Managing Director of Techstars New York. He’ll help our cohort participants understand what competitive accelerator programs are looking for in the application process.
To be honest we have so many fabulous coaches and I urge your readers to check out the site, Geekz Ventures dot org to see more. We are also exploring whether we can give the cohort access to resources to help them take care of their mental health.
What went into your selection process?
All our mentors and coaches are industry experts, successful entrepreneurs, and seasoned investors who will provide invaluable coaching and mentorship for the cohort. Our team encompasses specialist coaches as well as generalist mentors with expertise on key topics such as MVP, customer discovery, product-to-market fit, and venture capital.
As I mentioned before our goal is to bring together leaders who can give guidance on the different stages of the entrepreneurial journey.
What can participants expect at the end of the cohort?
At the end of our 10-week program our aim is for participating founders to get or spot in an accelerator program, secure seed funding, or simply run a sustainable or scalable business that generates consistent revenue.
We also want our founders to really understand the importance of creating and leveraging strong business relationships, built on trust, which I why we have mentors from LinkedIn working with us. So, for example, LinkedIn Creator Manager Kojo Oppong will give sessions/office hours on how to use LinkedIn as a networking tool.
How can our readers support this initiative?
Our application process is still open so anyone interested in what we are doing should check out our site and consider applying. The program is industry agnostic so we will consider talent in any field, from SaaS to Fintech. However, the skew is Media, Connectivity, Entertainment, and Mobile Technology.
Geekz Ventures is also a non-profit, so fundraising is an ongoing process. Anyone interested in donating can find more information on the site. Individual donations to Geekz Ventures will allow promising founders to receive mentorship, strengthen their businesses and take their ventures to the next level.
Interested? Then apply here before the Jan 5, 2023, deadline. Not a founder? Those looking to support can donate here.
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