119: Creating Increased Opportunity For All

Creating Increased Opportunity For All

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 episode is the second of 3 special shows where we are taking a look back at some of the most prominent themes from our 2019 guest interviews and highlighting them in 3 different episodes. In this episode, we are discussing inclusivity in our local ecosystems and hearing how these innovative entrepreneurs are tackling the issue in their own communities. Today’s featured guests include:

  • Dominick Ard’is, Founder and CEO at ACT House, INC
  • Chad Bernstein, CEO & Co-Founder of Guitars Over Guns
  • Felecia Hatcher-Pearson, Author & Co-Founder of Code Fever
  • Kilan Ashad-Bishop, Biomedical Scientist & Advocate

Some key points from Dominick at ACT House:

  • 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”
  • 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
  • Listen or watch Dominick’s full episode here

Some key points from Chad at Guitars Over Guns:

  • Playing music for and with a juvenile detention center in college with his band
  • A defining moment for him and his passion for helping underprivileged kids
  • The limited access to music for students and the obstacles they students face daily
  • His organization wants to address some of the larger systemic barriers that create the student’s point of inaccessibility
  • Trying to connect with the students where they are both physically in school and musically in current interests
  • The goal of his organization is not to get students to pursue music as a career, but to help them develop skills to have a successful future
  • Music being able to address and bring inequalities in society to light
  • Using your unique skill set towards improving social impact
  • Listen or watch Chad’s full episode here

Some key points from Felecia at Code Fever:

  • Starting Black Tech Week 5 years ago
  • Bringing thought leaders, investors, accelerators etc from all over the world to the event
  • Holding the conference in less known neighborhoods that need business and money
  • Starting Black Tech Weekend after getting several requests from other cities
  • 1-2 day conference that is specific to the participating city
  • Miami being diverse by default and not intention
  • Miami’s diversity and inclusion issues cannot be solved by one solution because the issues are made up of several little things
  • Listen or watch Felecia’s full episode here

Some key points from Kilan:

  • Many minorities in the science field have to segment themselves to be accepted or struggle with self worth of receiving scholarships or partnerships
  • The power of having a strong support system behind you when going after your dreams
  • Science communication is the most important part of being a scientist
  • Often times, scientific work goes unnoticed because it’s not understood or talked about
  • Communication is not valued in the science field
  • Society does not understand science (generally) and therefore does not support scientific initiatives as much as something trendier or easier to understand
  • Science is an important part of innovation
  • It takes resilience to be in the fields of science and advocacy
  • Everyone’s perspective is valuable
  • Listen or watch Kilan’s full episode here