March 31st, 2023 at 9:30am at the Yale School of Management Register Here!


8:30am Breakfast
9:30am Opening remarks
9:45am Keynote: McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility
10:30am Founder Panel: Raising While Black
11:15am Break
11:30am VC Panel: The Black VC Journey
12:30pm Lunch
1:30pm Pitch competition
3:00pm Break
3:15pm Keynote: Iddris Sandu
4:00pm Closing remarks
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Keynote: Iddris Sandu

Iddris Sandu Founder & CEO, Spatial Labs

Iddris Sandu is a young visionary and technological genius who has made a significant impact in the fields of engineering, design, and entrepreneurship. He was born in Ghana, West Africa, in 1997, but was raised in Compton, California. At the age of 10, Iddris started learning coding and began to explore the possibilities of technology. By the age of 13, he had already created his first mobile application, which was a calculator. He continued to develop his skills and knowledge, and at the age of 15, he created the first augmented reality game for the Starbucks app. Iddris has worked with major technology companies such as Google, Uber, and Instagram, and has also collaborated with prominent cultural figures, including Nipsey Hussle, Kanye West and Jaden Smith. He has been featured in Forbes' 30 Under 30 list for his contributions to the field of engineering.

In addition to his technical accomplishments, Iddris is a visionary entrepreneur who has founded multiple startups. His ventures include a company that creates smart retail experiences for brands, a company that offers AI-powered home automation solutions, and a company that produces advanced autonomous vehicles. Most recently, Iddris founded Spatial Labs, a technology infrastructure company that is powering the next generation of Augmented Reality, Blockchain, Omni-channel, and Immersive Experiences - collectively known as the Metaverse.

Iddris Sandu's work and innovations have earned him numerous awards and recognition, including the Black Enterprise BE Modern Man of the Year award, the Council of Urban Professionals Catalyst Change Agent award, and the Ford Freedom Unsung Genius award. His passion for using technology to make a positive impact on society has made him a role model and inspiration for many young people around the world.

Keynote: Nick Noel

This session is led by McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility to outline the funding gap and unpack its implications. The presentation will stem from data and economic analysis performed by Mckinsey’s Institute for Black Economic Mobility and will “double-click” on how the gap in VC funding directly impacts the Black community.

Nick Noel Nick Noel Expert, McKinsey & Co.

Nick is an expert in McKinsey’s SHaPE practice focused on sustainable inclusive growth & racial equity. He primarily serves investor sacross the public, private & social sector on social-impact partnerships. Nick brings together his knowledge and experience in impact investing, growth strategy, finance, economic development, & place-based transformations to develop GDP-moving investments & programs that can create multi-dimensional impact.

Nick is also a co-founder and leader of the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, a “think-and-do tank” with the mission to advance racial equity and inclusive growth globally, where he drives various initiatives across research, convening & real world impact. He is the author of a multitude of articles, reports & publications on many topics including economic development, the multicultural consumer, ESG & the US racial wealth gap.

early-stage entrepreneurship. He has a B.A. in History from Boston college, an M.B.A. in Finance & Strategy from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, and his M.A. in International Development & Economics at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Founder Panel: Raising While Black

This panel brings together successful Black founders who will share their experiences of raising Venture Capital. The panelists will provide insights into the challenges they faced and the strategies they used to secure funding. The discussion will cover topics such as investor outreach and relationship building, story development and pitching effectively. The founders will also cover their feedback and asks from VCs that focus specifically on supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Songe LaRon Songe LaRon CEO @ Squire

Songe LaRon is the Co-Founder and CEO of SQUIRE Technologies. Founded in 2015, SQUIRE created a new software category- barbershop business management- to reinvent the way daily operations are handled and give barbers and shop owners the tools they need for the business side of barbering. Today, SQUIRE delivers the only all-in-one barbershop management platform to over 3,000 barbershops— with 7.6 million clients having booked appointments through the platform.

LaRon spent the early part of his career as a corporate lawyer. And, while he experienced success, he yearned to put his energy towards the thing that mattered most to him. He wanted to help build wealth in his community in a way that would create a lasting impact.His vision was to use his business experience to help elevate an industry that he knew played a critical role in all communities: the barbershop. He saw the opportunity for barbershops to be more efficient and effective in running their businesses and so he set out to build the tools they’d need to do it.

In partnership with Co-Founder and President, Dave Salvant, he has led SQUIRE to remarkable growth: the company is now valued at $750m after completing a Series D fundraising round led by Tiger Global- increasing its valuation by 30x in two years.

As CEO he believes it’s his job to be an innovator and uses that mindset to set strategic direction for the company. He is proud of the incredible growth SQUIRE has experienced taking on innovation for one of the oldest professions in the world, but is most proud to have built a company that truly respects the value and impact of barbershops on their communities while doing so. When asked what he wants to be remembered for, LaRon says, “As someone who made a positive impact and changed people’s lives. Who really tried to go big for something and succeeded. As someone who gave it his all.” LaRon earned his J.D. from Yale Law School and graduated Cum Laude from UCLA with a degree in Philosophy.

Kadesha Okwudili Kadesha Okwudili CEO @ Agape

Khadesha Okwudili is the Founder, CEO of Agapé: a relationship wellness app loved by over a million users and backed by world class investors like Y-Combinator and Harlem Capital.

Travis Holoway Travis Holoway CEO @ Solo Funds

Travis Holoway is the Co-Founder and CEO of SoLo (SoLo Funds), a leading financial service company for everyday Americans, enabling community banking and lending solutions. SoLo has processed over 450,000 loans as one of the fastest-growing Fintech companies in the U.S. and is grounded by an impactful mission: to build a community that enables financial autonomy for all. Prior to founding SoLo, Travis built his career in the financial services industry as a financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual. Travis is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and has been recognized with awards such as 2020 Startup of the Year, Inclusive Fintech 50, and Forbes 1000. He has been quoted in various publications and websites, including CNBC, Forbes, American Banker, TechCrunch, and Crunchbase.

Markea Dickinson-Frasier Markea Dickinson-Frasier CEO @ Thermaband

Markea Dickinson-Frasier (Yale SOM '20) is passionate about democratizing access to resources for the underserved, and serving as a voice in spaces where certain voices aren't represented. She was a student-athlete at Penn State University during undergrad, where she ran cross country and track. Upon graduation, she worked at Unilever in various Supply Chain roles, including managing employees in a manufacturing facility. After a few years, she decided to pursue her MBA at Yale SOM and venture into entrepreneurship. While at Yale, she partnered with her mother, Debbie Dickinson, to launch Thermaband: a health-tech company that provides a smart bracelet with cooling/warming sensations and companion app for those with thermal discomfort, particularly suited for menopausal women with hot flashes.

VC Panel: The Black VC Journey

This panel brings together experienced venture capitalists who will share their insights and experiences in the industry. They will discuss the unique challenges faced by Black VCs, including how to break into an industry that is largely based on pre-existing networks. The panelists will also provide feedback specifically to black founders and explore ways in which venture capitalists can play a more active role in supporting and investing in Black-led startups.

Wayne Kimball Jr. Wayne Kimball Jr. Principal for Google Cloud @ Google

Wayne Kimball, Jr., currently serves as Principal for Google Cloud's Go-to-Market Strategy and Mergers & Acquisitions business. He is also the founder and global leader of Google’s TechAMPLIFY,an initiative to accelerate the growth and sustainability of traditionally untapped, diverse startups.Kimball previously served in corporate strategy leadership roles at Accenture and the ActOneGroup, and specializes in business strategy and enterprise transformation. He is also an investor,startup advisor, and independent board director.

Passionate about the landscape of education and eradicating poverty through access, exposure and opportunity, Kimball currently serves on the Board of Directors for Christel House International (global charter school network), the NC School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) Foundation, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., in which he is a life member and Vice President of the Western Region. He formerly served on the NC A&T State University Board of Trustees, and as Vice Chair of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Kimball earned his MBA in International Business at Loyola University Chicago – Quinlan School of Business and his bachelors in Civil Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. He lives in Los Angeles, CA with his wife, Savannah.

Chisom A'Marie Chisom A'Marie Vice President @ New Voices Fund

Chisom A’Marie is a Vice President at New Voices Fund, a venture capital firm focused on investing in entrepreneurs of color in the consumer and consumer tech space. She has always had a passion for driving equity and doesn’t take lightly her role in assisting entrepreneurs in growing sustainable businesses and ultimately generational wealth. Prior to New Voices Fund, Ms. A’Marie was in investment banking at Citi covering Power, Utilities, and Renewable Energy. Chisom graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy (EPP) and from Yale School of Management with an MBA.

Livi Grant Livi Grant Investor @ Greycroft

Livi Gran ze’s t is a venture capital investor at Greycroft. She joined the firm in August 2021 and is based in New York City. She focuses on early-stage companies in enterprise software and fintech.

Prior to Greycroft, Livi was a Business Development & Strategy Analyst at Microsoft, where she worked with the M365 Commercial Ecosystem and Artificial Intelligence & Mixed Reality teams to drive strategic partnership initiatives and transactions within the startup ecosystem to accelerate growth for Microsoft and its customers.

Livi holds a BS in Business Administration (summa cum laude) from Florida A&M University’s School of Business and Industry. She is a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and actively supports the Black Venture Capital Consortium, a non-profit organization missioned to increase diversity among investment professionals and entrepreneurs.

Daniel Acheampong Daniel Acheampong General Partner @ Visible Hands

Daniel Acheampong is a Co-Founder and General Partner at Visible Hands, a venture capital firm that funds and empowers underrepresented founders launching high-growth startups. At the earliest stages of company-building, Visible Hands provides meaningful funding, personalized support, and social capital, helping our founders build exceptional technology startups. Daniel oversees investment processes at Visible Hands as the firm has made over 90 investments across multiple industries. He received a dual Masters in Business Administration from the Wharton School and Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School. Prior to graduate school, Daniel was an associate at Summit Partners, a premier investment firm, where he managed the firm’s due diligence process to raise investment funds. Previously, he was a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, where he supported senior management in supervising the New England Private Wealth Management business. Daniel received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics in from Brandeis University, where he was a Posse Scholar and Gates Millennium Scholar. He is an Entrepreneur In Residence at MIT’s DesignX and Venture Advisor at Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale University. He is a national board member of The Posse Foundation.

Pitch competition finalist teams

Webquity PTH-PATH Lots of Berries Indehealth Halo Braid