Entrepreneurism has taken off in recent years within the Black community, especially among Black women. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “the plug” is basically synonymous with “the connect”, or the ones people go to for information, resources, money and everything in between. They are the ones within a community who help bring everyone up due to their wealth of knowledge and experience. This list shines a light on a few entreprenuerial “plugs” we thought you should know about.
Mandela SH Dixon
Mandela SH Dixon is a venture capitalist in the tech field and the CEO of her latest company, Founder Gym. A serial entrepreneur, in 2011, Dixon cofounded DemoLesson, the first teacher hiring platform that replaced resumes with video, allowing teachers to better showcase their talent. Her work with DemoLesson led to her work that she is most recently known for with Kapor Capital, the venture capital investment arm of the Kapor Center for Social Impact in Oakland, CA. In an interview with Black Enterprise, Dixon states, “Once I got to Kapor Capital, I was able to see how the other side—venture capital—worked. I learned about who investors were, how they operated, what they cared about, and how they made decisions, and I’ve been able to leverage these insights to better train founders who are seeking capital. Also, as my relationships with founders in the ecosystem grew over the years, I learned more about the realities of entrepreneurship post-funding. I realized that you can’t always believe what you read on the front page of the news and that many first-time founders, even those who are funded, struggle with finding their way. Also, via my own coaching programs, I realized that there is a particular need for underrepresented founders who don’t have the same safety nets—psychological, financial, or social—as their peers. All of these experiences, coupled with my time as a founder, educator, and athlete, influenced my decision to build a solution with my co-founder, Gabriela Zamudio, that we are confident can help underrepresented tech startup founders.” Dixon’s latest venture, Founder Gym, “is the first online training center by underrepresented tech startup founders for underrepresented tech startup founders. Utilizing Silicon Valley investors and venture-backed founders as personal trainers, Founder Gym offers underrepresented founders a unique opportunity to learn the secrets of startup success in an environment that is specifically designed for them.”
John Henry became an entrepreneur at the ripe age of 18. His first company, an on-demand laundry service catering to TV and film production companies was worth a million dollars when he sold it only three years later. Since then, Henry has been the “plug” for early-stage businesses in an array of capacities. His nonprofit incubator, Cofound Harlem, teaches new entrepreneurs the basics of growing a business. As part of the program, selected applicants receive complimentary office space and mentorship in exchange for a commitment to stay physically located in Harlem for two years. His other business, a minority-owned venture firm, Harlem Capital Partners, invests in those businesses. In an interview with Forbes, when asked about lessons he’s learned as an entrepreneur, Henry said, “The majority of entrepreneurs price based on cost. They figure out what the product will cost and they add a desired margin. But the most successful companies like Starbucks and Apple do value-based pricing. Starbucks focused on the psychological need people have to buy coffee and the environment they provide. They can charge $4 for a latte.” These are the sort of gems Henry shares through his work often, making him the “plug” for many he comes into contact with.
CiCi Gunn “The Six Figure Chick”
In her own words, Cici Gunn is an “accidental entrepreneur” who through sharing her personal story of battling cancer on Instagram became so influential people began to pay her for the information she was sharing. Through those experiences, she turned her expertise as an Instagram strategist into a brand and “The Six Figure Chick” was born. Her digital platform, “The Six Figure Chick” serves as a resource for entrepreneurs who are interested in learning how to use Instagram as a tool to brand themselves and make money in the process. On her site, entrepreneurs can purchase access to a series of courses and blog videos that will show them how to turn their talents into cash. Additionally, Gunn has built a successful online communiy that serves as a space for networking among entrepreneurs.
Aaron Walker is an entrepreneur and the owner of Camelback Ventures, a company he founded to ” provide entrepreneurs with the coaching, connection, and capital for success.” According to the website, “Camelback Ventures aims to address the inequities of education and social innovation by providing coaching, capital, and connections through our fellowship to underrepresented entrepreneurs.” Their mission is to “create a more diverse social innovation ecosystem that leverages the genius of all people”. A rising social entrepreneur, Walker explains his decision to launch Camelback Ventures in an interview with The Huffington Post, stating, “After speaking with my wife and trusted friends, I decided to launch Camelback Ventures to increase the number of women and people of color in social innovation and education. It was inspired by the notion that the genius of all people and all voices are needed to change the educational landscape for our children.”