The 2021 theme for Black History Month is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.” These words resonate in Elevate Capital’s vision of diversity and inclusion, creating awareness, and investing in underrepresented minority entrepreneurs’ dreams.
Elevate Capital believes in celebrating Black History Month every day—recognizing the contributions, achievements, and critical influence African Americans have in U.S. history.
In honor of this month, we celebrate Black entrepreneurs we have invested in, who we support through mentor capital. We also celebrate and recognize members of the Elevate team and its investors, who work tirelessly to make it all happen.
We will continue to intentionally invest in Black-founded startups so founders can unleash their potential for significant growth, as growth and success bring financial reward and generation wealth, including to their communities.
Black Entrepreneurs Share Advice on Overcoming Challenges and Keeping Their Vision Clear
As we celebrate Black History Month during February 2021, Elevate Capital spotlights 10 inspiring Black entrepreneurs whose achievements, passion, perseverance, creativity, and ability to never give up inspires us all.
“The challenge a lot of underrepresented founders face is being able to demonstrate that we’re capable and qualified. But, I think being underestimated gives us a competitive advantage.” –Stephanie Lampkin, Blendoor Founder and CEO
Blendoor is a diversity analytics and hiring software company. Powered by BlendScore™, the company provides AI-driven recommendations, monitoring, and employer branding solutions that enable exceptional companies to attract and retain diverse talent. Companies that subscribe to Blendoor’s enterprise SaaS get an AI-driven ‘DEI Sherpa’ instant recommendations, tracking, alerts, and diverse slates of qualified executive and board-level talent, for a fraction of the cost of consulting or executive search.
“Just keep swimming. Tides change, the temperature of the water isn’t always ideal, and threats are ever-present. Just keep swimming, and you will arrive at the waters you sought out.” –Carmelo Montalvo, COO
Forest Devices is a medical device startup that develops a novel stroke screening device designed to detect early signs of strokes—making stroke decisions smarter and reducing critical treatment delays. Forest Devices has developed disruptive technology: the first objective, electronically-determined test for stroke for use by EMS.
“You will run across three types of people on our journey: 1.Those who nod their heads but don’t actively help your cause. 2. Those who shake their heads, and whisper about your foolishness. 3.Those who link arms with you, and use their extra hands to help you to clear the path to success. Don’t waste your time on either #1 or #2. Find your tribe, and they’ll ensure that you succeed, no matter how fraught with challenges the path may be.” –Tanya Van Court, Founder and CEO
Goalsetter is a savings and financial literacy application that also provides FDIC and Mastercard-backed debit cards for teens and savings accounts for the whole family. Goalsetter helps every member of your family save, learn, and spend money responsibly. The card that makes teens and tweens smart before they swipe. No monthly fee, you pay what you think is fair based on the value Goalsetter delivers to your family.
“Be true to your mission and your vision. If you’re clear about where you’re heading, you’ll meet the right people. It may be hard, but you owe it to yourself to keep pushing on. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished these past 12 years—and we are not done!” –Paula Hayes, Founder and CEO
Hue Noir has been changing the face of beauty by putting multicultural women at the center of the modern beauty movement. Hue Noir’s True Hues Flawless Finish Foundation is formulated in an innovative proprietary process that ensures true and consistent shade applications in one of the most advanced foundation formulas developed specifically for women with nuanced and deeper skin tones.
“When you’re facing those tough challenges, remember that there is no ‘right answer;’ you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. All you can do is stay true to your values and do the next right thing.” –Jessica Eggert, Founder and CEO
LegUp saves you time and stress by finding available, licensed child care that matches your preferences. LegUp connects families and child care providers seamlessly, helping programs grow their business, and helping families stay in the workplace. Find available spots, book tours, and enroll in child care online in minutes, for free.
“The road that you’d like to travel is a hard one, but not an untraveled road before. When times get hard, remember that the race is not given to the swift or to the strong, but to the person who endures until the end. Weigh your options and take the calculated risks that work for you.” –Dr. Trivia Frazier, Founder and CEO
Obatala Sciences is a biotechnology company that offers research enabling products and brainpower to scientists in industry and academia. Its mission is to promote diversity to advance the study and prevention of diseases in the fields of obesity, diabetes, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine.
“Understand your business, understand what you are offering to your audience better than anyone else and love what you do. Take advice, constantly be learning, but always keep the big picture and your primary goal front and center. There will be days that are very difficult, but at the end of it if you truly believe in what you’re doing that will help to push you through.” –Alia Daniels, Esq, Co-Founder and COO
Revry is the first global streaming network launched in 2016 that focuses on queer content and creators. Revry showcases artistry that genuinely represents the breadth of the queer experience with free live and on-demand LGBTQ+ movies, shows, news, music, podcasts, and originals.
“Every entrepreneur knows making a great product is essential to building a great business. But implementing a great customer acquisition strategy is just as important. When you innovate how you acquire customers as much as you innovate what you offer them, you can create powerful moats for your business.” –Sean Mitchell, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO
REZI is a technology-enabled rental platform that allows tenants to rent apartments within a few minutes online. REZI leverages the latest technology, analytics, and finance tools to revolutionize every aspect of the business. REZI removes inefficiencies to focus on empowering both tenants and property owners every step of the way.
“Never underestimate the importance of defining your north star beyond apps, tools, and services. What problem are you solving? How do you measure success? Who cares? Maintaining alignment with your north star will help to clarify your priorities, identify your tribe, simplify your decisions, and recognize distractions.” –Kishau Rogers, Founder and CEO
Time Study is a technology firm that powers enterprise time intelligence presenting a clear picture of how employees spend their time to derive insights that drive progress. Time Study empowers organizations’ greatest resource, people, to be the best they can be.
“Get your product or service into the market quickly and innovative-based on customer behavior.” –Josh Engelbrecht, Co-Founder and CEO
Toolbelt is tackling the industry’s biggest challenge—limited residential construction skilled labor. ToolBelt is the #1 labor solution app that bridges the word-of-mouth connection gap between general contractors and subcontractors by connecting them to available projects on the platform. It’s the fastest way to find the best-skilled labor.
Pushing Forward With Grace: You Got This!
Elevate Capital’s lead institutional investor is Meyer Memorial Trust and Rukaiyah Adams is the Chief Investment Officer with Meyer. She is the inspiration behind Elevate Capital and she shares a powerful message:
“In celebration of Black History Month for 2021, I would like to take the opportunity to speak directly to the entrepreneurs funded by Elevate Capital. The Meyer team knows that you are focused on building your businesses, while at the same time navigating unfair and, at times, outright racist systems, institutions, and organizations that allocate capital. We can only imagine how hard it is to push forward with grace. Yet, you do.
Please do not forget that there are also organizations like ours, and people like the folks at Elevate Capital, who have been working for generations to acquire the power to open doors for you. Pushing those doors open further, walking through them, and holding them open for others will be our generations’ contribution to progress. The Meyer team will continue to block and tackle for you; we will always cheer you on. You got this.”
Watch Video: Homegirls’ guide to being powerful (a TedxMtHood talk), by Rukaiyah Adams
Moving Forward With Diversity and Making a Positive Difference
“Black History Month is about taking the time to reflect on and honor all the innovative, resilient, and courageous Black founders that have come before us by paving new roads for the Black founders to come,” says Brandon Ross, Elevate Capital Senior Associate-Analyst.
Be Disruptive by Shattering Assumptions
“Shattered assumptions are the artifacts of innovation and disruption,” says Lateef Jackson, Elevate Capital Venture Partner. “What assumptions are you going to shatter?”
Join us in supporting Black-owned businesses, not just during Black History Month but all year round. We’re beyond proud that these 10 Black Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Associates are part of the Elevate Capital portfolio family. They are inspirational leaders who know how to overcome obstacles, hope for a positive future, and lead the way by making a positive difference and impact every day of the year.
Namaste and Sincerely,