075: Dominick Ard’is (ACT House, INC)

Dominick Ard’is on Innovation City

[The minority deficit] is not necessarily a matter of capacity or smarts…it’s access. And once you start to provide access to people that have had to be more resourceful … they can go to new heights. — Dominick Ard’is

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Dominick Ard’is, Founder and CEO at ACT House, INC. ACT is a 12-month residential accelerator designed to provide entrepreneurs a leg up in team formation. As a self-described facilitator of human potential, Dominick has a passion for helping organizations and the people that empower them to grow. Dominick sits down with the team to discuss the ACT House and its mission, the importance of creating inclusive and diverse teams, the lack of resources minority groups are forced to combat, leaving the corporate world to get back into his community, and much more!

They discuss:

  • Supported the launch of 22 startups in the last 3 years
    • Collectively raised over $550K in seed-stage funding
    • Accelerated the growth of 5 second-stage tier companies through optimization, consulting, leadership empowerment, and development
  • Working to mitigate startup failure and minority deficits in entrepreneurship
  • What is ACT House?
    • ACT stands for the Accelerating Creativity Today and is made up of 3 types of students: the Architect, the Creative, the Techie
      • The Architect is the business mind
      • The Creative is the designer and marketer
      • The Techie is the programmer, maker, or doer
    • Students come together and live in one house together and create one startup in one year.
    • A space for students to thrive in collaboration and innovation
  • Testing the ACT House model at a national hackathon
  • Helping startups with their MVP (Minimum Viable Product) statements and their vision
  • Many people say they “want to help people” but they don’t know how
    • ACT House helps people find their “How” and sometimes the “What”
  • Meeting with students weekly to facilitate their progress and offer support and feedback to their progress
  • Shifting the business model to be more of a national fellowship program
    • Dominick and his team focus on developing entrepreneurial mindsets for startup teams to continue to be entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial
    • Leveraging corporate research and development
  • The importance of the startups he facilitates creating inclusive and diverse teams
  • Growing up in a military family and being exposed to diverse areas and cultures early on
  • The lack of resources many minority groups are forced to combat when wanting to start their own startup ventures
    • ACT House wants to provide access to people that have had to be more resourceful because there weren’t enough resources, so they can go to new heights
  • CB Insights reports that the top 3 reasons startups fail is:
    • No market need
    • Lack of funding
    • Not the right team
  • ACT House’s process is defined by 3 core functions:
    • Business Development
    • Leadership Development
    • Product Development
  • The importance of having commitment to your venture (regardless of size)
  • Speaking to the right customers
  • Coming into the market too early and laying the groundwork for someone else to do well while you fail
  • Dominick coming from a corporate background before his work with entrepreneurs
    • Felt empty working in the corporate world and wanted to get back into the community
  • Calling things what they are, what they are not, and what they will be
  • Putting pen to paper to flesh out ideas so you don’t lose track of them
  • Plans for expansion of ACT House to New Orleans, LA & Durham, NC
  • Get in contact with ACT House on Facebook and Instagram
  • Interested students in the Tallahassee, FL area: applications are open on their website