Meet the Talent x Opportunity Fall ‘23 Cohort

Kofi Ampadu

A few weeks ago, we kicked off the Talent x Opportunity (TxO) Fall 2023 cohort in San Francisco. The founders hit the ground running in person, already building strong connections and rapport. We continue to be amazed by the visionary entrepreneurs TxO has had the fortunate opportunity to collaborate with since launching the initiative in 2020. To date, TxO works with 45 promising companies and 68 founders, all of whom are building products and services inspired by unique cultural insights. Much like the previous cohorts, this was a competitive application pool and selecting these 9 companies was no easy task.

The Fall ‘23 founders are building solutions to tackle big challenges ranging from improving wellness through video games, to addressing absenteeism in K-12 schools through a learn-to-earn model, to delivering affordable internet service to underserved communities. Please join us in welcoming the newest TxO founders:

Alina Matson and Samara Fantie (Glossbird)

Alina Matson was born and raised in Minnesota after her family came to the states as refugees. While in college, she learned about product development which inspired her move from the midwest to California. During the pandemic, Alina struggled to find motivation to exercise and be healthy, but always made time for video games, which led to the idea for Glossbird. Glossbird aims to promote wellness by leveraging the benefits of gaming for both physical and mental health. She teamed up with Samara Fantie, a researcher turned game developer and artist, who is passionate about using her eclectic skills and knowledge to improve wellness.

Al Adjahoe, Jerome Howard and William “BAM” Sparks (Culture Wireless)

Al Adjahoe, a DC native, along with Jerome Howard and William “Bam” Sparks, Georgia natives, each possess a unique set of accomplishments, spanning fields as diverse as IT infrastructure to brand strategy. Individually, they’ve demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit through building small businesses that have made significant positive contributions to their respective communities. The trio decided to join forces to tackle a substantial challenge: connectivity within specific communities. They founded Culture Wireless, an internet service provider that aims to deliver affordable and high-quality internet service to underserved communities.

Amen Rahh (K12 Crypto)

Amen Rahh, also known as Principal Rahh, was born and raised in Compton, Los Angeles. His upbringing in Compton shaped his perspective and fueled his determination to make a positive impact on education. As a math teacher, he witnessed the challenges and disparities faced by students in underserved communities which motivated him to pursue a career as a principal. Driven by a passion for technology, culture, gaming, finance, and education, Amen recognized the potential to revolutionize education beyond being a principal. He founded K12 Crypto, an education platform that addresses absenteeism and democratizes access to web3 via a learn-to-earn model in K-12 education.

Austin Webster and Darrell Thompson (Deepr)

Austin Webster grew up in Memphis and has a design background with over 15 years of practical experience in the fields of industrial design and product/software development, working with teams to deliver products to Fortune 500 retailers. But it was his passion for music led him to found Deepr, a music discovery platform that uses artificial intelligence to help users find new music they love. Darrell Thompson, a 30-year music industry vet, joined Austin as a cofounder after witnessing his hustle and passion.

Dana Wilson (CHIP)

Dana Wilson is a northern New Jersey native and a graduate of an HBCU with vast financial services experience. Throughout her career in financial services, she recognized a gap between consumers and access to financial professionals of color. Motivated by this experience, she founded CHIP (Changing How Individuals Prosper), a financial services marketplace that aims to address this gap by connecting consumers with a diverse range of financial professionals to best serve their needs and personal finance goals.

DeShuna Spencer (KweliTV)

DeShuna Spencer grew up in Memphis and developed a love for reading and storytelling from a young age. DeShuna studied journalism and communications at Jackson State University and worked as a reporter, but began to feel disillusioned with the industry. She decided to pursue a career in PR and later became a features editor for a military newspaper. Frustrated with the lack of diverse and impactful content, DeShuna founded kweliTV, a streaming platform that focuses on Black stories and equitable distribution partnerships with filmmakers.

Horace Flournoy (Swaybrand)

Horace Flournoy was born in Chicago and raised in the south suburbs of the city. His passion for technology and engineering started with a love for video games. As a child, he would take apart computers, mostly to replace the graphics cards so he could play better computer games. As a former college football player, he had a vision of providing influencers, athletes, and artists from diverse backgrounds with a better way to make auxiliary income from brand deals. He realized that a localized approach and model created greater volume opportunities for the long tail of creators. As a result, he founded SwayBrand, a content marketplace that connects brands with diverse creators for localized user generated content.

Jonathan G. Blanco (Niftmint)

Jonathan G. Blanco is a first generation American who was born in Seattle but grew up in two cultures simultaneously: Latino culture at home and American culture at school. He always had a strong desire to become an entrepreneur and spent the majority of his adult life pursuing this goal, starting with retail products which eventually led him into the world of eCommerce. As crypto emerged, he saw it as a potential avenue for loyalty and branding. In late 2020, he saw the huge interest in NFTs as an opportunity to launch Niftmint, a platform that allows brands to mint, sell, and custody NFTs to boost customer loyalty and revenue without the need to manage cryptocurrency or a crypto wallet.

Veronica Peterson (FlashHoops)

Veronica Peterson, born in Gary, Indiana and raised in Chicago, was introduced to basketball by her father as a toddler. She committed and played the sport throughout high school, college, and eventually professionally abroad. While competing overseas, she developed an interest in business and decided to pursue a masters degree in computer science so she could build companies that had a purpose. As a result, she founded FlashHoops, a mobile platform that helps children learn math while receiving one-on-one basketball skill training from their favorite athlete.

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