Ujamaa Deals Wants to be the Black Groupon and Decrease Wealth Gap
1 year ago
Loop 21 spotlights new tech start ups
Loop 21 takes a look at tech startups in light of CNN's upcoming "Black in America 4: The New Promise Land" installment which will focus on eight African-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Debuting Sunday, November 13th, a preview of the documentary recently led to a twitter fight between tech writer and professor Vivek Wadwha and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, who proclaimed that "there's zero race or sex bias in silicon valley." Over the next five days, Loop 21 will spotlight new tech ventures created by African Americans that you won't see on Black in America.
Since Groupon’s successful launch in 2008 as a daily deals site, hundreds of niche knock-offs have popped up. Among the myriad general deal sites from LivingSocial.com, Amazon.com, and KGB.com, there are daily deals that revolve around house improvement services, restaurants, high-end clothing, and even ethnicity -- Jewpon.com anyone? So where is the black daily deal site? According to entrepreneurs Tre Baker and Lawrence Watkins, it’s just around the corner.
Tre Barker and Lawrence Watkins are the founders of Ujamaa Deals, which plans to offer Daily deals from Black-Owned businesses across the country starting in December. Drawing from the meaning of Ujamaa, “cooperative economics,” Barker and Watkins want to use their startup to make it easy to buy black, support black job creation, and decrease the wealth gap.
Loop 21: How did two brothers from Louisville, KY get into technology let alone start their own tech business?
Tre Baker: We were mentored by Carl Brazley, President of Mo' Better Marketing. I graduated from Vanderbilt University with an engineering degree in 2006, where I started my other businesses, dN|Be Apparel. Since I had started a business during college, I was able to go straight from there to business school at Harvard without the usual 2 to 5 years of work experience in between. Lawrence received an engineering degree from the University of Louisville in 2006, and then went on to earn his MBA from Cornell in 2010, also where he started his first company, Great Black Speakers. So we both have a background in business and entrepreneurship and a passion for serving the Black community.
Loop 21: One of the most difficult things to do when creating a startup is finding a partner. How did you all decide to join together for Ujamaa Deals?