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Black Engineer Creates Eco-Friendly, Disaster Proof Smart Homes

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Housing is amongst the most basic of human needs, and yet, it’s becoming increasingly elusive — even in wealthy countries like the US. Technology has changed every sector leaving construction as the last industry prime for revolution.

The SolutionRoombus produces high quality and eco-friendly modular Smart Homes that are affordable for everyone. The homes engineered to withstand storms, earthquakes, and even stop burglars.

We caught up with founder, Dami Jegede to learn more about his company.

Eco-Friendly
Roombus founder, Dami Jegede

What inspired you to start Roombus?

So my background is software engineering, and I’ve built 2 successful fintech companies. In 2018 I started looking to solve a bigger and more impactful global challenge. It became immediately clear that affordable housing was what I really, really wanted to do. It has been a big and hairy problem for decades and it gets bigger every year.

Eco-Friendly

Initially, it was about building affordable homes, but when we took a deep dive, it evolved into building the future of housing. We believe that is smart, health-focused, safe and eco-friendly homes.

How does Roombus differ from the homes built from shipping containers?

We actually looked at shipping containers at the onset. In fact, it was what made the venture seem attainable to me, but we abandoned the direction after much research.

We found in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology found that the majority of containers have harmful levels of toxicity inside — with spillage of harmful substances and chemicals that were not removed by thorough washing.

Eco-Friendly

Hazardous chemicals and pesticides are used to treat the wooden floors, and some were coated in paint which contains harmful chemicals like phosphorous and chromate.

To top it off, container housing was too niche a market for our vision, only 16% of people we surveyed were open to owning a container home.

Roombus, on the other hand, has designed a proprietary steel core frame system that allows us to build truly disaster proof and healthy homes. Great for humans and the environment. Our homes are not limited by container dimensions and compromise, and so our spaces are much bigger.

Please explain how the homes are designed with sustainability and eco-friendliness in mind.

Construction is one notorious industry that produces one of the highest amounts of waste in the world today. Building homes on lots are highly inefficient from cost, labor and waste perspectives.

Most of us have passed by homes under construction and seen the amount of wasted materials on-site — broken wood framing, off-cuts from roofing sheets, insulation, and drywall. Most of that new junk is heading to a landfill near you.

Eco-Friendly

Our prefab method (building in a factory), and precision manufacturing reduces material wastage by a whopping 95%! Our steel framing system is 100% recyclable, and we use bamboo to replace as much wood as possible.

Bamboo grows super-fast and is extremely light on the environment. We utilize above-code insulation to save energy and reduce the need for heating and cooling all year round — from Florida to Alaska.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Grit and resilience can’t be overstated. You need to learn to pick yourself up and just keep moving. This is why you have to be double sure about your venture before you start.

Does it really matter to me? How much do I love this?  Hold on tightly to your destination, but let your path be flexible. Too many people waste too much time on a path that just never will open. Pull up your goal maps and try new routes!

How can people support you right now?

We’re raising our pre-seed round via Equity Crowdfunding. You can invest as little as $100 to own a stake in the company. Support us here: https://wefunder.com/roombus

Tony O. Lawson


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$20 Million Agriculture and Food Investment Fund Aims to Improve Black Health and Wellness

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TPP Capital Holdings (TPP) is a Black owned impact fund manager and healthcare real estate development firm on a mission to change the face of Black health by investing in agribusiness, agriculture, indoor vertical farms/greenhouses, farmland development, health-focused food and beverage enterprises with Black and Brown ownership located in federally qualified opportunity zones throughout the country.

To date, TPP has commitments to provide direct investments through Fund I, including a $2M investment commitment in Vertical Harvest LC3, a Jackson, Wyoming, agri-business that has built a profitable sustainable model for urban hydroponic farms. Other commitments include a $5M equity investment in the construction and operation of a 70,000-square-foot greenhouse that will grow one million pounds of fresh produce annually. The site will be accompanied by 50 affordable units housing for farm workers.

In this interview with founders Anthony Miles and Clinton Bush, we discuss TPP’s plan to reduce food deserts, health disparities, and burdens of chronic medical conditions in the Black community. We also discuss how they can help Black entrepreneurs manufacture healthy food and beverage brands.

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Tony O. Lawson


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Adenah owns $220 Million in Real Estate, Multiple Restaurants and Creates Jobs in her Community

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At age 13, Adenah Bayoh escaped the civil war in her native country of Liberia, immigrated to the United States, and is now one of the most successful entrepreneurs in New Jersey.

Adenah has amassed a $220 million real estate development portfolio of several major residential and commercial urban properties across northern New Jersey. She also operates several individual IHOP franchises and Cornbread, her own signature line of soul food restaurants.

In this interview, we discuss the ways her life experiences have contributed to her success. We also discussed her passion for giving back to her community, and how her grandmother inspired her to get into the restaurant business.

CLICK HERE for the interview and Don’t forget to LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to the channel!

Tony O. Lawson


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Venture Investment Opportunities in the Caribbean

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Dmitri Dawkins is a Jamaica based entrepreneur and investor. He serves as managing director at Graft Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on scaling Caribbean-based businesses.

investment opportunities

In this interview, we discuss the investment climate in Jamaica and what effects the pandemic has had on opportunities there.

We also discuss some misconceptions about the Jamaican economy as well as the unique advantages and challenges that the Caribbean region has compared to US or European markets.

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Tony O. Lawson


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ArtistsUntold, a Black Owned Clothing Brand that Empowers Black Artists

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ArtistsUntold is a Black owned clothing brand that fuses art and fashion. The online retail platform provides up-and-coming Black artists with the opportunity to promote and monetize their artwork through apparel and fine art sales.

We spoke with co-founder, Jordan Abdur-Raoof to find out more about the company and its mission to empower Black artists.

Black Owned Clothing Brand
ArtistsUntold co-founder, Jordan Abdur-Raoof

What inspired the creation of ArtistsUntold and its business model?

I had followed this woman on Instagram for years and she was selling her artwork on apparel. I bought a shirt of hers, and it was just poor quality to be frank. It was then that I was like, you know this is something that I can do. 

I could share the artists’ story, their art, and their mission by creating a platform to pay the artists a portion of each sale. It had everything that I was looking for in a social venture.

Black Owned Clothing Brand

I talked with 30 to 40 people who critiqued it here and there, but generally speaking it seemed like a value proposition that a lot of artists really needed. The one thing that I think is unique to us is that we pay multiples higher than the industry standard to artists. Also, a lot of companies will make artists sign exclusivity agreements where they do not own their artwork anymore, but with us they still retain ownership.

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Essentially the artists are licensing the artwork out to us, and if they one day decided that they did not want the artwork on ArtistsUntold anymore, easy enough; we will take it down. We are trying to be as pro-artist as possible.

Black Owned Clothing Brand

How do you select which artists to work with?

It’s been quite a process. When we first started I’d send out 20 messages a day to different artists who had a few hundred to thousands of followers. And 99 percent of the time you wouldn’t get a response. That has now shifted since June with the Black Lives Matter movement, as it accelerated people’s validation of our value proposition and the service that we’re providing.

Now, some artists will reach out to us such as Brandon Brewer. Brandon reached out when he had about 75 followers. I thought to myself, ‘This is unbelievable. I love the work he’s doing, and I love his creative process along with what he communicates through his art’

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Another example is Uzo, who had only a few thousand followers when we first partnered but now has about 50,000. Seeing them grow exponentially has been really exciting, and I am happy that I was able to see artists and their vision, discuss with our team, and run with it.

Now, it’s almost 100% inbound and we have artists apply and unfortunately, we need to turn artists down from time to time.

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What is the most rewarding and most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?

The challenges and rewards go hand in hand. The hardest part of this is not having a blueprint, but that is what makes this so much fun. Everyday there is a new challenge, or idea, that we need to handle or implement. We are a smaller firm so we are extremely receptive and work hard to pivot quickly depending on customer feedback.

There is no direction list or manual, so you need to figure everything out for yourself. I make a joke that Google is my best friend, but honestly almost every problem I am confronted with I turn to Google and my partners Xander and Steven and we find a solution.

Whether it’s measuring sales taxes, hiring a marketing firm, figuring out Facebook ads, affiliate programs, shipping, how to best respond to client emails and provide excellent customer service, setting up an EIN & business bank account, accounting, or social media aesthetic we are able to learn, adapt, and implement on the fly.  

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

In 5 years, we hope to be recognized as a premier socially conscious and sustainable streetwear & fine art brand. We would like to have a flagship store/gallery in New York and LA combining streetwear, fine art, music, and of course an amazing coffee bar.

We would also like to have a large enough following where any artist on our platform is making enough passive income to pursue art full time whether they have 50 followers or 50,000 followers.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

First and foremost, is to stop talking about it and actually do it. Create a business plan, share your plan and get as much feedback as possible and adapt on the fly because it will not be perfect. While at Cornell I took a lot of classes on Entrepreneurship that have acted as core pillars for this business.

The most important takeaways for me are to listen and ask for feedback & to adapt quickly based on these ‘interviews’ you are conducting. Lastly, there is a huge component of ‘Grit’ which is a passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals.

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Black Owned Clothing Brand

You have to have the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. I know every day when I wake up, I am going to work on ArtistsUntold whether I want to or not, because I have a commitment to empowering underrepresented communities both financially and by sharing narratives in a positive light that can challenge the stereotypes that exist in today’s society.

I know we have the potential to create hundreds of thousands of dollars in wealth for Black and underrepresented communities and the power to plant hundreds of thousands of trees. This drives me forward, so whatever you create, create it with the right intentions and try to put more good into the world.

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5 Ways To Maximize Your Money with Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche

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Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche is an award-winning teacher of financial education and is quickly becoming America’s favorite, personal financial educator.

The Budgetnista

In this interview, we discuss what business skills have helped her build multiple multi-million dollar businesses. We also discuss her new book, “Get Good with Money”, and what it means to be “financially whole.” Tiffany also shared the first five steps to achieving financial wholeness.

 

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Tony O. Lawson


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Black Veteran & HBCU Grad Creates A Seven-Figure Clothing Brand

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HGC Apparel is a Black veteran owned clothing brand founded by Marcia Smith,  a 90’s kid who’s passionate about the uplifting and expansion of the Black community.

black veteran
HGC Apparel founder, Marcia Smith

In this interview, we discuss how this mother and Howard University grad’s time in the military influenced her entrepreneurial journey. We also discuss what she has done to find success online and how she protects her intellectual property.

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Tony O. Lawson


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Black Owned Venture Capital Firm Raises $110 Million Seed Fund

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MaC Venture Capital is a Black owned venture capital firm that invests in technology startups across a broad range of business sectors, including fintech, e-commerce and marketplaces, interactive media, connectivity, enterprise SaaS, space and aerospace, logistics, and more.

Today, the Los Angeles and Palo Alto based company announced it has raised its inaugural $110 million seed-stage fund. This is the largest investment received by a majority Black owned fund. They plan to use the funds to invest in 40 seed-stage companies across the globe, targeting $1 million for each initial investment.

“Although we are investing at a founder’s earliest stage, with a minimum viable product and early traction, we ground ourselves in seeking big opportunities — companies that have the potential to scale quickly, change an industry, and bring something net-new to society. We look for ambitious founders who want to build billion-dollar category leaders,” said Adrian Fenty, managing general partner.

“We evaluate investments based on the merits and potential of their ideas, not just resumes, to find value in founders where others might not. This brings us differentiated deal flow and the ability to look around corners to identify white space in areas that are often overlooked. Not only do we have the opportunity to really change the way capital is allocated by investing in more Black and Brown founders, we can also power companies that are closing the opportunity gap for large groups of people and create more diversity across a wide range of verticals,” said Marlon Nichols, managing general partner.

“With MaC Venture Capital, our mission is to invest in visionary founders who are building the future we want to see. And a big part of that is thinking about culture and how it’s shifting, changing behaviors, and eventually guiding new social norms. Our cultural investment lens stays ahead of that, leveraging research to identify how consumers and companies will spend their time and money in the future and looking for investment opportunities that will ultimately participate in those shifts,” said Michael Palank, general partner.

“I don’t think there’s another fund that looks anything like us,” said Charles D. King, general partner. “We represent a very diverse range of perspectives, skill sets, and networks, bridging Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., and we leverage that to support our founders. And we have the ability to broker mission-critical introductions that can cement a company’s trajectory, whether in technology, business, politics, entertainment, or finance.”

The firm intends to make 40 investments with this new fund, with an average investment of $1 million. The fund’s limited partners include Foot Locker, Inc., Goldman Sachs, Greenspring Associates, Bank of America, Howard University, MacArthur Foundation, the University of Michigan, State of Michigan Retirement System, and Mitch and Freada Kapor, among others.

Related: Black Owned Venture Capital, Private Equity & Angel Investment Firms

Tony O. Lawson


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Prairie View A&M University to launch Toni Morrison Writing Program

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Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) President Ruth J. Simmons announced today that a Toni Morrison Writing Program would be established at PVAMU in honor of the writer and her former student, MacKenzie Scott.

The philanthropist, who is also a writer, donated $50 million to the University in October 2020$3 million of her gift will be designated to endow the Morrison Writing Program.

The Writing Program will include a Toni Morrison Writer-in-Residence. Appointed annually, a different writer each year will have a one-year visiting appointment at Prairie View, where that individual will offer a seminar in writing.

The Toni Morrison Writer-in-Residence will hold public readings of the writer’s work and that of other writers to bring visibility to the importance of writing and the legacy of African American writers, especially those educated at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Morrison was a graduate of Howard University, an HBCU in Washington, D.C.

Emma Joahanne Thomas-Smith, Ed.D., PVAMU provost emerita, will oversee the Toni Morrison Writing Program. With decades of experience in higher education, Thomas-Smith previously led the University’s Honors Program and the Department of English and Languages.

“Faculty and staff of both the University and area high schools will share in the activities of the program and benefit from the Writer-in-Residence and other artists representing the full range of literary genres,” shared Thomas-Smith.

In addition, the Toni Morrison Writing Program will sponsor a high school writing contest. The winner of the competition will receive a college scholarship.

Source: inForney

Main image photo by Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images)

Master P Now Focused On Owning An HBCU Instead of an NBA Team

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A few days ago, Master P (born Percy Miller) took to his Instagram account to announce his desire to own an HBCU.

“So, y’all know I always wanted to own an NBA team, but now I want to own an HBCU. It’s so important that we educate the culture. This message is all about educating our people,” he said during the video clip.

“I was shocked when I Googled who owned and founded HBCUs,” Miller said. “We can’t change the past but we can change the future by investing in the next generation. They going to have to sell some of these schools to us, or fund it the same way other major universities are funded.”

During the video, Miller expressed that he once had a desire to attend Southern University, an HBCU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He encouraged others to join the movement to ensure that the nation’s historically Black colleges are able to offer proper education to our children.

Tony O. Lawson

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