Why the economics of equality is key to Atlanta’s growth

Hey Rodney thank you so much for being Here today Hey Dom it's so good to see you Um I'm so excited to dive into this Conversation but before we do that for Those who are watching virtually Um who might be unfamiliar for your work Can you please just briefly introduce Yourself and what you do Absolutely I also don't want let this to Pass congratulations on one on your one Year anniversary oh yes yes thank you Thank you absolutely so Um just to give a little context I have Been in the technology startup Adventure Ecosystem Um approaching oh my God 25 years I got my start Um Back in 2000 formerly Um with the Inception of multicast media Technologies we were Pioneering developers of linear Streaming Technologies actually in that Day they didn't really call it streaming It was still called IPTV or multicasting Which was a construct created actually By Mark Cuban with his Inception of Broadcast.com and so started my career Off as a startup founder in the internet Streaming space that company was Acquired in 2010 I released my fourth Book kingonomics 12 Innovative Currencies for transforming your

Business and life inspired by Dr Martin Luther King in January of 2013 and in June of 20 13. oh Hub was born my wife And I co-founded oh Hub as a platform to Ensure that everyone everywhere has Equitable access to the technology Startup inventure ecosystem as a path to Creating new multi-generational wealth With no Reliance on pre-existing Multi-generational wealth and so we are Fastly approaching our 10-year Anniversary as well I do a few other Things General partner of a small Venture fund 100 black angels and allies I'm actually a fund manager for the States of North Carolina and Alabama for The adventure Capital programs I'm a Non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings institution as well So you've been you're born and raised in Atlanta Um and you went away briefly for college But then you came back and started Building and you've been investing it Long before you know it was you know What it is today what potential did you See in the city that made you want to Come back Well the the potential one as an Atlanta Native and my wife being an Atlanta Native as well after my undergraduate Work and then I attended Penn State University College of Medicine Um decided not to pursue that career

Pathway and so really in coming back to Atlanta it wasn't that there was a Thriving technology ecosystem uh it was Really pulling on Atlanta's past history Of empowering black entrepreneurialism Even going back to our first black mayor Maynard Jackson who when negotiating a Deal with Delta Airlines to relocate From Macon Georgia after they left Birmingham to come to Atlanta Georgia He negotiated for more than 35 percent Of the airport contracts and vendor Awards to go to qualified minorities and Women and that really shifted the Trajectory of Atlanta as a place that You could build a company And so that was really a part of the Reason for coming back home And starting starting from you know from There along with just the density of Talent that exists in Atlanta when you Talk about Spelman College and Morehouse College Clark Atlanta University Morris Brown College of course there's also Emory and Georgia Tech there's a density Of Technology talent but there's also This entrepreneurial spirit that really Exists at the intersection of innovation And culture And and capital that you know really Became the thesis of ohub um as well so It's kind of built on the thesis of Atlanta and so that's one of the reasons

You know why we decided to to come back Home and build in Atlanta What changes have you seen over the Years in Atlanta regarding how black Entrepreneurs are treated and how does That compare to the picture Nationwide You know absolutely Um you know I'm a I'm a data person you Know particularly given the work I've Done at Keenan Flagler UNC but also at Um Morehouse as well and so you know When I think about Um Atlanta I think I see two Atlantis When you think about Atlanta in terms of Small and medium-sized Enterprises and Black ownership of those Enterprises We've done an incredible job of Positioning those Enterprises Um whereby they can Um do business with Atlanta's major Enterprises our Fortune 100 companies to Be specific when you juxtapose that to Our startup Community it also Um It also points out the gaps in terms of Where we think we are and where we Should be when you compare it to where Our smes are and to be frank I think Atlanta uh my native home has incredible Potential but when I look at our startup Ecosystem in particular we're doing some Great work done but I also think there's A lot to be desired I've often made this Comparison that you know our small and

Medium Enterprise Ecosystem is in Um you know the future of what it looks Like to have more Equitable Opportunities but our startup ecosystem Seems like it is in what they call Sam Michelle's Um Atlanta sale myself was the mayor Before Maynard Jackson became mayor so We've also had some what I consider to Be outlier success successes with Fundraising with the development of tech Programs and Tech hubs and hiring Initiatives but it's really really time For us to double click and scale those Beyond the performative so I'm excited About the possibilities of Atlanta but There's some critical work that has to Be done that is more substantive with Depth and with range as it relates to us Really continuing to be that leader as It relates to being a black Tech Hub or A black Tech Mecca as we call it And It's a part of you know getting more Opportunities for Um you know black entrepreneurs in the Ecosystem is all about of course playing That somewhat Venture game and so I'm Really interested to know what have you Learned about the relationship between The black community and the way power Moves that you didn't realize before you Entered the tech um The Venture Tech

Ecosystem in Atlanta Um that's an incredible incredible you Know question Um very incredible question so when when You look at how power was negotiated Going back to when Maynard Jackson Became the first black mayor there Seemed to be like this 50-year pact or Coveted that Black Atlanta Would lead the political Um constructs but white Atlanta would Continue to drive the capital markets Um and so there was sort of this Negotiation Um that happened whereby we saw black Economic gangs through black political Power Um For us to experience that in you know a Fourth Industrial Revolution that's Being driven by artificial intelligence Machine learning Quantum Computing you Know blockchain you name it all of these Edge technologies that are being brought To Market by companies being fueled by Venture capitalists when you think about That Capital formation Um we've got some work to do to make Sure that the black power structure Which really stands for a diverse Equitable and inclusive platform for all Atlanta's Um to actually participate in this

Experiment that was envisioned by black Political leadership going back 50 years And so it's now time to transition that Same level of thoughtfulness and Planning and strategy to our startup Ecosystem particularly as it relates to The capital stack that is available for Early stage Founders and I give you a Case in point Um Even in Atlanta today if you're closing A pre-seed and or a seed round rarely do You see the entire round being closed by Investors in Atlanta They're a couple outliers where we have Seen this happen but usually there may Be a lead investor coming from sort of The you know the group of investors that Are in town and then those Founders are Hopping planes or now hopping on Zoom Calls talking to investors on the west Coast you know New York Seattle and just Across the the country if that makes Sense now what I'm hopeful of is that Um There's a federal opportunity there by a State opportunity for the state small Business credit initiative ssbci which Was reauthorized reauthorized done by The Biden Administration it was an Obama Initiative 10 billion dollars to states To fund small businesses it was Reauthorized as a part of the American Recovery plan act which was a response

To the coronavirus 10 billion dollars Goes to the states and a lot of the States including Georgia have an Allocation towards venture capital and I Believe there are talks about actually a Carve out specifically for what the Government is called calling socially And economically disadvantaged Individuals so if the state of Georgia Gets this right we're going to see more Capital Um early stage Capital going into the Ecosystems that are demonstrating Audacity of hydro company building so That's going to be of course Atlanta uh Greater Atlanta but also Atlanta proper It's also going to be Savannah Georgia Augusta Georgia Um as well those are centers of Innovation density Um Athens where the University of Georgia is as well it's now also doing Doing more as well so to summarize all Of that I know I said a lot but to Summarize all of that being a native of Atlanta I watched how our black policy Makers were able to create Economic Opportunity that created more Millionaires and created thousands of Upwardly mobile jobs through Supplier Diversity negotiations through Community Benefits agreements negotiations and Also Um through Government Contracting

Opportunities that same strategy must be Applied to the startup ecosystem and Therein lies the opportunity because I Think we've just uh we've just really Started to have those type of Conversations And I want to talk um a little bit about You and your work with um oh Hub because You mentioned that you wanted to forge a Path for people to create Multi-generational wealth without Without Reliance on pre-existing Generational wealth and so I wanted you To kind of go deeper into that like what Does that mean and how based on the ways In which you know the economic and Social systems work in this country uh How do you like prep a historical Outsider with the tools to like be an Insider Absolutely so you know I'll tell you a Little bit about how we've been doing it For the last 10 years and I'll start With telling you how we plan to do it For the next 10 years so Um in beta we have the ohub app this is Probably the first time I'm publicly Mentioning it where we are in the Process of taking 10 years of subject Matter Expert content and basically putting That content in the app hosted by a Company we my wife and I reacquired at The end of 2021 called pixel Tech and so

We're using that as our back end to Basically put Um that information in the app we Developed a framework with the Federal Reserve and we signaled it through the Brookings institution that basically Lays out how um to build an inclusive Ecosystem from the ground up and so That's really the Playbook of Opportunity Hub so this app really Starts at the earliest exposure level Exposing people to the opportunities for Work for career Pathways for upskilling But also The science of high Growth Company Building we teach company building as a Science and a practice and then also the Connectivity that's required to connect To Startup Investors as well now at a broad process When you think about oh you think about It in terms of the place making work We've done in Atlanta in Kansas City in Austin Texas with South by Southwest and Houston Tillerson and also now in New Orleans Louisiana so there's Place Making stacked with programs and now Stacked with products let me give you Some data over the last 10 years done oh Hub has helped over 1700 black and brown college students And adults Get exposed to the ecosystem get Upskilled in the ecosystem either

Through our immersive programs like Hbcus South by Southwest or our coding Boot camps or technical sales or cyber Security boot camps and secure their First job with an average salary of Ninety thousand dollars that has been a Path out of poverty for a lot of black And brown people that have gone through Ohops programming over the last Decade in addition on the high Growth Company building side we have Pre-accelerated or incubated nearly 500 Companies through a high Growth Company Building programming we're now expanding On that as well with some federal Contracts and awards and then on the Capital formation side we've seen our Founders go on to raise millions of Dollars for their seed rounds or even Some for the series a rounds we also Took it a step further with the 100 Black angels and allies fund we Partnered with the lynx Incorporated the University of North Carolina Keenan Flagler business school Duke University And Stanford to create the black Technology ecosystem investment Certificate so we are teaching black People and allies how to invest in the Black Tech startup and Venture ecosystem As an emerging asset class I have the Opportunity to Signal this and Congressional testimony in front of the Financial services committee a couple of

Months ago where they're looking at Having these type of certificate Programs count towards Um an American being considered an Accredited investor and so you know Three lanes that we don't deviate from There's the upskilling to Career Pathways as a high Growth Company Building startup support programming and The capital formation as well And I Could becus a little bit because you Mentioned it how would you like to see Them become more involved within the Venture ecosystem Um that's an incredible question you Know I didn't attend an HBCU I was Headed to Morehouse all my life and I Visited Tulane on a weekend and that's What helped me make my decision Um to go to New Orleans Louisiana for my Undergraduate studies my wife hire is a However is a graduate of Howard University and so Through our business and our foundation And our investment work we have been Intentional about partnering with our Historically black colleges and Universities Um my advice to the leadership of hbcus Is to partner with the ecosystem Builders that are already doing this Work and together form a coalition to go After corporate philanthropic or even

Federal Government funding or state Funding that is specific to Innovation There are a lot of opportunities in the Pipe Um you have the chips and science act Which now Regional Tech hubs was just Announced managed by the economic Development Um Administration Alejandra Castilla is The Deputy under secretary there you Have the National Science Foundation They have NSF engines you have to build Back better Coalition Um as well you have infrastructure Broadband there's so much funding under The thesis Dom of inclusive Innovation And rather than hbcus simply going along Um to get along they should partner with Ecosystem development organizations like Opportunity Hub and the dozens of Organizations that exist Nationwide so They can create programs like we created At South by Southwest they can create Their own coding schools to then train Thousands of engineers in their region They can create technical sales schools They can create technology incubators And accelerators and there's also case Examples of hbcus as limited partners in Venture funds and so that is one of the Ways to increase their endowment but Also create a pathway for for their Students into high growth companies Where they can negotiate salary and

Equity for the future so ohub is Committed to continuing you know our Work to partner with our Nations Historically by colleges and Universities and we encourage other Organizations to do the same And we're somewhat running out of time But something I've always found Interesting is that it seems overall as The black community talks about you know Entrepreneurship and Technology Um on a mainstream scale at least There's always an element it seems of Culture or media that's sometimes Intertigned with it and so I wanted to Ask you like why is that and how Important is that um when it comes to Teaching the Next Generation about the Importance of you know entrepreneurship And generational wealth Absolutely I think media has it you know Has its place and plays an incredible Role in terms of signaling the successes Of Founders or ecosystem Builders or Even investors along the journey and I've appreciated the work Um and the seriousness in which you Approach your work in particular Um and really communicating the facts And doing your research as it relates to The signals that you make Um I also think balance is the key that You don't have to have a big brand and a Lot of social media followers to build a

Multi-million dollar company that would Be attractive to investors or customers Or for people to work at and so I want To caution Founders not to think that You have to become the this Big Brand Before you can build a big business I Come from an era where we built and sold A company without social media profiles Right and so I'm always focused not so Much on what's being said I'm also Looking and listening for what's not Being said as well and so I think as you Continue to amplify your work wherever You are whatever you're doing you want To be careful Um to amplify those things that are Critical to the success of the business At the end of the day a business does Not win simply by raising capital a Business wins by deploying the capital That it has raised Um Into solutions that build the best Products that are solving incredibly Hard problems and are then attracting Customers so that they can monetize the Product Um inside of that respective business I Look forward to the days where we see Interviews and conversations about Companies approaching one two five ten Fifty million dollars in Revenue versus Only 110 you know 25 50 million in Funding

And um I kind of wanted to bring it back To a point kind of over the conversation Earlier Um in terms of you know the inequities That are currently still here and that We're working to maneuver Um how far do you think minorities can Go within Venture without fair and equal Backing from Big firms and limited Partners You know I don't think we're going to go That far without creating a new investor Class it's time for us to really stop Chasing the current institutional and Individual Investors in either our Venture funds Our syndicates or our companies talk to Them put the deal out there keep it Moving I think as an ecosystem and also As a black community it's really time to Develop a new investor class a new LP Class that has a different investment Thesis and a different conviction and Lens for investing in Black Founders we Can't keep expecting the same things From the same people and the same Institutions we saw a glimmer of hope in 2020 I was incredibly cautious about That Dom I think we did make some gains But you know you recently reported out On the data looks like we're doing Um less than we were prior to 2020. so I Think it's really time for us to reset And look at how do we create a new

Generation of limited partners Um that will invest in our funds and our Companies and then we also need to look At the power of the jobs act and equity Crowdfunding in the world it can play as It relates to leveraging our Affinity Groups whether that be the links Jack And Jill the divine nine or hbcus our Church associations and other business Associations as well I was actually Going to kind of bring up 20 because it's been a little over three Years since the murder of George Floyd Since you know 2020 who hasn't kept Their promise Um you know Um I was chatting earlier with the Founder of TP insights excited about What she's about to do next shirelle Dorsey and she had a pretty Comprehensive Um document and data set around who made Commitments I know there was some Follow-up articles written I'm not sure On what platform in particular but it Looked like that the majority of the Multi-billion dollar commitments had not Been met and so I'm not you know Personally I'm not waiting on it I Thought it was a lot of performancesm Let me give you a stat so in 2020 and 2021 I worked with Brookings institution To Signal Um to write and Signal a report

On how much would it cost to reach Parity towards Equity right we really Got to understand these terminology when We're talking about economic equality Versus Economic parity and then economic Economic equity parity equality or Equality parity and Equity to reach Parity and a path towards Equity we're Looking at 23 to 26 billion dollars Annually To close that Gap whether it's the Upskilling to Career Pathways Gap we Know because that was about a 50 billion Dollar gap of the amount of black people That should be in Tech but aren't in Tech because of the discriminatory Practices that exist that's a trillion Dollars lost Um in income over 20-year period a Generation we can close that with that Level of investment so when people are Hearing like you know 100 million like It sounds big um 150 million sounds big But when you actually count the cost of What it will take to get us to equality Into parity into Equity we're talking Tens of billions of dollars a year for The next 50 years and so we've got some Work to do I'm committed to doing the Small part that we can do and I'm Excited about the others that are also On this journey as well And this seems like a good note to end

It but before before I do that My final question what happens now What's next Well Um you know I just turned 50 in December Of 2022 we are approaching the 10-year Anniversary of opportunity Hub we have a Vision to expand oh Hub to 100 cities Over the next 10 years and some Iteration on the capital formation side I'm incredibly excited about the work We're doing in North Carolina Um and now I'm excited to announce we're Working with Alabama as well so a total Combined of about 75 million dollars to Invest in socially and economically Disadvantaged Um individuals they call it seti fund Managers and Founders in those two States Um and so there's just a lot to do but That's what ohub is doing I'm excited About our new energy technology Incubator in New Orleans Louisiana look Out for that announcement soon because We're going to be investing 500 000 a Year in five founders Over the next four years and we're also Dharma just applying for a lot of Federal funding that's being made Possible uh by the Biden Harris Administration And that is all we have time for today So thank you again for coming on and

Thank you everyone who is you know Watching listening uh stay tuned for the Rest of what a total ATL live has to Offer and um have a good rest of the day Oh And that is all we have time for today So thank you Rodney for coming and Chatting and thank you everyone who came To listen Um stay tuned for the rest of the event And what else uh total ATL live has to Offer and of course the pitch Competition coming soon Um and have a good rest of the day And that is all we have time for today So thank you Rodney for coming and thank You everyone who came to listen Virtually stay tuned for the rest of the Event and what total ATL live has to Offer and of course the pitch Competition coming soon and yeah have a Good rest of the day


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