I am very proud to announce, alongside my co-founders Denise Nurse and Rashida Abdulai, the launch of the Black Founders Hub, a peer network for high growth Black owned serviced businesses based here in the UK. Before I go into detail about what we do and the why, a bit of background first.
Back in 2018, I was frustrated with the narratives coming out about the underrepresentation and underfunding of Black owned tech companies in the UK. Working as a pitch coach I noticed that I was coaching very few founders who looked like me. Although there were some amazing exceptions who were starting and growing stellar companies and getting good press, most were missing out on investors not either understanding their business or willing to take risks.
So I set up an incubator/education hybrid to address this shortfall called Legacy 71. The purpose was not to just address this shortfall but to be very open about my solution. Supporting great Black talent and recognizing that through owning business vehicles, this method could be part of an overall approach to address the wealth gap many in the Black community were and still are facing. Those who know me, are very well aware that I am not afraid to speak out about race inequity but even more importantly do something practical and sustainable about addressing the inequity.
Over the years I noticed, studied and conversed with a number of minority groups in the UK on how they are able to prosper through a combination of shared ambition, education, community support and collaborative economics and looked to replicate those behaviours and thinking for my own. Unfortunately, I underestimated the marketing requirements to get this at full capacity for Legacy71. Fortunately, a number of key equity groups, support network and organisations such as Impact X, Cornerstone Partners, Good Soil, CG Ventures, Foundervine, 10×10, AIS, YSYS were growing in impact and influence. For me, that tech destiny is in safe hands and I stepped away with no regrets or angst. So I decided to shutter Legacy71 in early 2020 but the passion to create and be part of a mission to build capacity in the Black community for wealth generation was still a clear goal for me. Without apology.
In a random gesture, before I shut down Legacy71. I had bought the domain blackfoundershub just in case the right business vehicle came along to revisit this idea.
In June 2020, fuelled by the social unrest and conversations after George Floyd’s death I started on a side project to amplify the voice of Black leaders across the corporate, civil and third sectors. I shared a prospectus with a number of friends of this ambition. Being passionate about leadership I wondered if this specific niche could be a means of revisiting that larger vision of wealth generation in the Black community. Amplifying wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and connections in addition to fiduciary security.
One of the people I shared this manifesto with was a founder called Rashida Abulai whom I had met only a year before as part of a podcast we both featured on called Talk About Black, hosted by Dawid Konotey-Ahulu founder at Redington. Rashida, herself the founder at Strand Sahara, a legal support firm for Africa focused businesses, wrote back and said she wished something like Amplify existed when she still worked at a major law firm. She went on to say that she was yearning for Black founders, as a more specific sub-set of leaders, in the professional services space highlighting the fact that there were amazing pioneers who had built large professional serviced businesses like Dawid at Redington and another pioneer called Denise Nurse.
The name Denise Nurse rang a bell but I wasn’t sure where. A quick google reminded me. I remember that smiling face on BBC’s Escape to the Country.
So I informed Rashida that I had this domain and would love to explore the idea further with her. Bringing the same energy I had for Legacy 71 but to founders of professional service companies in law, accounting, design, advertising, engineers, consultants and other similar industries really fired me up. Especially in a year where inequities facing a large swathe of Black professionals was being put under the spotlight. Getting to meet Denise further solidified this ambition. Not only were the three of us on the same frequency but I also got to learn about Denise’s journey as the cofounder of Halebury, an alternative law firm which she sold. The fact all three of us are owners and founders of the kind of businesses we wanted to represent was amazing and after a couple of meetings, we decided we were going to flesh out our offering.
We decided that a subscription-based nonprofit organisation providing peer support for accomplished and/or ambitious Black Founders of serviced businesses would be our target. The founders in these cohorts would be explicitly be making or intending to turn over £100, 000 in annual revenues as a minimum, with ambitions to grow and scale beyond that. In essence, a monthly mastermind group of up to ten focused black founders from non competing serviced based businesses who really wished to level up. Supported not only by their peers but also by a network of Fellows, essentially business owners, mentors, and experts from the Black community across the UK, who have already grown or are continuing to grow ambitions and profitable companies. Sharing their journeys and insights on what works and what doesn’t work.
Our third pillar would be Funders. Those allies, sponsors, and supporters who provide venues, funding, access to supply chains and other resources for the prosperity of the group. We were set.
In the interests of transparency, we are well aware that there are and will continue to be those both within and without the Black community who will wonder why there is a need to have such a group with such a specific focus on Black ownership. To be honest, if my intro hasn’t explained enough or others haven’t read the copious reports that have laid out steps to address economic inequity causing the racial wealth gap and how we can go about closing such gaps then there is no point in even debating it. We will just get on with what we are doing, building legacies, and let others argue the toss while we focus on the what, how and why of growing this network. It is not an either-or. It is not a zero-sum game. It is one of many ways to address a big problem.
That out of the way, I am extremely proud to be part of this amazing team as we build capacity for support and service. Unapologetically focusing on a network that provides financial, emotional, intellectual and leadership support for our members. Providing an alternative to sharp minds who would otherwise only see being part of a larger corporate as an option, which is very limiting.
This is the story so far.
We have ambitious plans for where this mastermind group will go and we are excited that having soft-launched last week that we are already having a lot of applications and interest already.
If you are a Founder, Fellow or Funder who is interested in legacy building and being part of this journey that we begin in 2021, hop over to www.blackfoundershub.com and register your interest or feel free to share with others who you think may be able to benefit.
Onwards and upwards.
Author: David McQueen