118 episodes

Founders Unfound tells the stories of exceptional entrepreneurs and tech founders from underrepresented backgrounds – starting with founders of African descent. We have a regular podcast and complimentary blog created to shine a light on the broad spectrum that reflects all the diversity in entrepreneurship today. We spotlight entrepreneurs working on venture-worthy, big opportunity ideas.


We know behind every founder team is an origin story that deserves to be boldly told.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Founders Unfound Daniel Kihanya

    • Business

Founders Unfound tells the stories of exceptional entrepreneurs and tech founders from underrepresented backgrounds – starting with founders of African descent. We have a regular podcast and complimentary blog created to shine a light on the broad spectrum that reflects all the diversity in entrepreneurship today. We spotlight entrepreneurs working on venture-worthy, big opportunity ideas.


We know behind every founder team is an origin story that deserves to be boldly told.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    Megan Graham - Ries

    Megan Graham - Ries

    Megan Graham is the Founder and CEO of Ries, a new brand addressing single-use plastic waste in the beauty industry with refillable, reusable travel-size bottles designed for beauty.
    Megan spent her formative years in Atlanta, where her father was an anchor for CNN. She attended Florida State University, choosing to major in Textile Science and Fashion Merchandising. Megan translated this into a career in media and fashion, ultimately helping to run beauty marketing at Vogue. Her roles over those years involved extensive travel. And it was this context that led to her insight around wasteful plastics in personal care items, particularly those used on-the-go. She would discover that 150 billion pieces of plastic are created by the beauty industry annually, and 30% of single use plastic ending up in the landfill comes from personal care and grooming products. So, as the saying goes, she thought there had to be a better way. And so Ries was born.
    Megan was part of the inaugural cohort of the Sephora Accelerate. Ries has gone to be carried by Sephora and Goop, and be recognized by Glamour and Cosmopolitan magazines as one of the hottest innovations in the industry.
    Megan has a great story. You’ll want to listen in.
    In this episode Megan and Dan discussed:
    The realization that she appreciated looking at fashion more than creatingThe growth the comes from hard environmentsHow Ries ended up featured at Gwyneth Paltrow's GoopWhy success for her is defined by pushing the industry forward in sustainabilityWhat a trend forecaster actually does
    OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
    Founders Livethe global venue for entrepreneurs to experience events, content, and community.
    Check out founderslive.com to join and to find a live event near you.
    MORE on MEGAN and RIES
    Megan:
    linkedin.com/in/meganshaygraham
    instagram.com/megansgraham
    Ries:
    ries-ries.com
    linkedin.com/company/riesries
    instagram.com/riesbeauty
    twitter.com/RiesBeauty
    Follow Founders Unfound: Like and share - help us grow!
    PODCAST TRANSCRIPT
    #blackfounders #founderstories #foundersafricandescent #travel #beauty

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 59 min
    Naza Shelley - CarpeDM

    Naza Shelley - CarpeDM

    Naza Shelley is Founder and CEO of CarpeDM, an exclusive member-only dating community, created for singles seeking meaningful relationships with professional Black women.
    Naza is the daughter of military parents, so she lived in many places growing up. She eventually settled down in Virginia for high school, and then the University of Virginia for college. From a young age, she had aspirations to become an attorney. She pursued this journey, with a law degree from Howard University. Naza says it was a year post law school teaching in China that reinforced her desire to practice. And so she did when she returned to the US. As a successful black professional woman in DC, she still found something missing.
    As she explored the various online dating experiences, she became more and more frustrated: why wasn’t there anything for her specifically? And so, the idea for CarpeDM was born. Fast forward through milestones, like landing a co-founder, going through Techstars, and launching a truly unique hybrid service that is part online dating and part matchmaker service. Naza has closed an oversubscribed pre-seed round, gaining her membership into the group of black women founders who’ve raised over $1M in venture capital.
    Naza has a great story. You’ll want to listen in.
    In this episode Naza and Dan discussed:
    Growing up in a military familyThe impact of spending a year in China after law schoolHow dozens of dates in a year left her exhausted, with no real connectionsThe power of 'friends and family' signalsWhy $86,000 was the right amount for her first fundraise
    OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
    BLCK VCA focused community built for and by black investors.
    If you ever thought about getting into Venture, you definitely want to connect up at blackvc.com or
    follow @BLCKVC for more about their exceptional programs and events.
    MORE on NAZA and CARPEDM
    Naza:
    linkedin.com/in/naza-shelley
    twitter.com/Naza_Shelley
    CarpeDM:
    carpedmdating.com
    linkedin.com/company/carpedmdating
    instagram.com/carpedmdating
    twitter.com/CarpeDMdating
    Follow Founders Unfound: Like and share - help us grow!
    PODCAST TRANSCRIPT
    #blackfounders #founderstories #foundersafricandescent #onlinedating

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    • 57 min
    Juneteenth 2023: Flashback 2020 part 2 - Black Women Founders

    Juneteenth 2023: Flashback 2020 part 2 - Black Women Founders

    JUNETEENTH 2023 - Part II
    In honor of Juneteenth and the 3rd anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, we thought we’d do something a little different this month. Back in June 2020, we did two episodes with black men and black women founders, capturing their raw thoughts, emotions, and insights at the time. These were two of our most popular episodes of all time. And the sentiments shared, and vulnerability shared are as powerful today as they were then.
    This is part two, where we were honored to have Dr. Ivor Horn step in as guest host, moderating a panel of black women founders:
    Helen Adeosun, Stella Ashaolu, Cherae Robinson, and Ashlee Wisdom
    In some ways, that time in 2020 was a catalyst for progress. Unfortunately, though - with an extended pandemic, a tough economy, and frankly the passage of time – we have not seen enough continued focus, and a loss of priority. One thing that history teaches us…its that where society’s gaze lands, progress and achievement follow. The founders from these episodes certainly show a representative slice of the founder journey. Some have startups that are prospering with investment capital. Some have pivoted. And some have sunset. But all of these founders are still wise and fierce leaders today.
    Take time to ponder on what you hear...
    In this throwback episode from June 2020, we discussed:
    How it feels to be a black woman in AmericaMoving between exhausted and determinedHonoring the moment: with voice, intention, and self-careThe desire to reach back and lift upHow office hours are a poor substitute for a check
    Audience References:
    Stella's panel discussionAshlee's TEDx TalkCherae's PodcastMore about Ivor
    Follow Founders Unfound : Like and share - help us grow.
    PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

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    • 45 min
    Juneteenth 2023: Flashback 2020 Part 1 - Black Men Founders

    Juneteenth 2023: Flashback 2020 Part 1 - Black Men Founders

    JUNETEENTH 2023 - Part I
    In honor of Juneteenth and the 3rd anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, we thought we’d do something a little different this month. Back in June 2020, we did two episodes with black men and black women founders, capturing their raw thoughts, emotions, and insights at the time. These were two of our most popular episodes of all time. And the sentiments shared, and vulnerability shared are as powerful today as they were then.
    This is part I, with me moderating a panel of black men founders: Kahlil Ashanti, Bara Cola, AK Ikwuakor, and Claudius Mbemba. 
    In some ways, that time in 2020 was a catalyst for progress. Unfortunately though - with an extended pandemic, a tough economy, and frankly the passage of time – we have not seen enough continued focus, and a loss of priority. One thing that history teaches us…its that where society’s gaze lands, progress and achievement follow. The founders from these episodes certainly show a representative slice of the founder journey. Some have startups that are prospering with investment capital. Some have pivoted. And some have sunset. But all of these founders remain wise and fierce.
    Take time to ponder on what you hear...
    In this throwback episode from June 2020, we discussed:
    How it feels to be a black man in America (June 2020)What it's like to be a black entrepreneur in the midst of two American crisesWhat steps are they taking, in light of the protests, George Floyd, and their own mental healthRecommendations for others, including allies
    Audience References:
    AK's PostBara's PostClaudius' PostDan's Post
    Follow Founders Unfound : Like and share - help us grow.
    PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

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    • 43 min
    Kofi Gyekye - Lane

    Kofi Gyekye - Lane

    Kofi Gyekye is a serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Lane, the world's largest and most innovative workplace experience platform, connecting 300+ properties across 22 cities and 8 countries.
    We are trying something a little different with this episode. Kofi along with his cofounder Clinton, has actually built and sold Lane, so not really still unfound.
    But he was so interesting and the journey so compelling, I couldn’t resist sitting down with him as a guest.
    Kofi grew up in Europe with African parents. He was good at school and realized that he loved the dual pursuit of creativity and analysis - the perfect foundations for his journey as product visionary. A serendipitous meeting at university party, resulted in Kofi’s partnership with his co-founder Clinton across 3 separate ventures. It was when Kofi was considering an RFP for a marketing campaign, for office buildings, that he decided to do something he had never done before in his career – see what’s like to work in a office. So, he spent a day exploring and observing at big skyscraper office. The epiphany hit him: why can’t the office environment be as convenient and seamless as home. And so Lane was born.
    In the whirlwind that followed, the company did Techstars, grew from 10 to 200 people, landed clients all over the world, and then in late 2021, sold for $200M to unicorn Proptech company VTS.
    Kofi has a great story. You’ll want to listen in.
    In this episode Kofi and Dan discussed:
    Growing up as an African in ItalyHow the combination of analytical and creative make him great at productThe evolution of fulfillment and its connection to impactThe journey of selling your companyThe future of work, and oh the way, real estate
    OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
     AfriBlocksThe global pan-African freelance marketplace and collaboration platform.
    More at afriblocks.com
    MORE on KOFI and LANE
    Kofi:
    linkedin.com/in/kofi-gyekye-3812044a
    instagram.com/kof.g
    twitter.com/Kofi_gyekye
    Lane:
    joinlane.com
    linkedin.com/company/joinlane
    twitter.com/joinlane
    instagram.com/join_lane
    Follow Founders Unfound: Like and share - help us grow!
    PODCAST TRANSCRIPT
    #blackfounders #founderstories #foundersafricandescent #b2b #proptech

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    • 46 min
    Melissa Brogdon - FourthParty

    Melissa Brogdon - FourthParty

    Melissa Brogdon is Co-Founder and CEO of FourthParty, a justice technology company that increases access to mediation services so that people can resolve legal conflicts outside of court.
    Proud to hail from Oakland, Melissa was raised by an incredible role model - her great grandmother. Despite opportunities to stay local for college at Berkeley, she followed the urging of a mentor and went to Spelman, a premier HBCU in Atlanta. Emerging from undergrad with confidence and curiosity, Melissa was initially a teacher, but ultimately pursued a successful career in the nonprofit sector. But then came the opportunity to work with her partner and husband to build his law practice. It was there that Melissa saw firsthand the impact of mediation, AND the clear needs mediators had. And so FourthParty was born.
    Melissa has a great story. You’ll want to listen in.
    In this episode Melissa and Dan discussed:
    Growing up in OaklandHer journey from teaching to philanthropy to entrepreneurshipHow the pandemic drove an explosion in the need for mediationWhen she found out she was part of the first Google for Startups classWhy "first" isn't always best
    OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS EPISODE:
    Founders Livethe global venue for entrepreneurs to experience events, content, and community.
    Check out founderslive.com to join and to find a live event near you.

    MORE on MELISSA and FOURTHPARTY
    Melissa:
    linkedin.com/in/melissarebeccacampbell
    instagram.com/itsmelissabrogdon
    FourthParty:
    fourthparty.app
    linkedin.com/company/fourthparty
    twitter.com/4thPartyApp
    instagram.com/4thpartyapp
    Follow Founders Unfound: Like and share - help us grow!
    PODCAST TRANSCRIPT
    #blackfounders #founderstories #foundersafricandescent #legaltech

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 54 min

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