BLAK Fintech (BLAK) was born out of pure passion of social responsibility in the spirit of entrepreneurship. Founded by our CEO Divine, the concept of BLAK (Building Leverage Acquiring Knowledge) was first ideated when he discovered that African-Americans possessed over $1 trillion in annual spending power. Wielding a wealth so large, that if African-Americans were a country and it was their GDP, they'd be the 16th largest in the world. Knowing first hand the poor financial health of African-Americans, especially those who reside in low- to moderate-income urban communities throughout the US, Divine was compelled to close that gap and build a tech-driven solution. Having an intimate knowledge and keen sense of what was necessary to build a real solution that would facilitate and expedite financial and economic empowerment for African-Americans, BLAK was born! BLAK is an acronym for Building Leverage Acquiring Knowledge, it denotes a process of success that Divine has always personally applied throughout his life to overcome odds, obstacles and disadvantages.
During a first time meeting in NYC with Will Hayes, President and CEO of Lucidworks, Divine shared his passion and ethusiasam about BLAK and what it had the potential to become in solving a huge problem. Will was sold! He believed in the vision, the mission, and most importantly, Divine. He became our first pre-seed investor and now serves as BLAK's Chairman.
BLAK was officially incorporated in 2016. Since then, BLAK has focused on building the brand in a way that not only let's the customer know that BLAK products and services are a real solution for them, but that could resonate as genuine, authentic and trustworthy with a very skeptical demographic.
In 2017, BLAK brought on Greg Selkoe as CMO. Greg brings a unique marketing expertise from his time founding and building Karmaloop over 15 years, where he lead the company as CEO to $160 million annually at its peak and over $1 billion in lifetime revenue. He brings an exceptional level of enthusiasm, dedication, and nuanced perspective that makes BLAK the holistic solution for the demographic we are targeting.
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We at BLAK know that finding the right products, services and/or strategic partner is a choice not to be taken lightly. That’s why we offer the opportunity to discuss your needs, the scope of your goals, and your strategy to see how we can best assist and potentially partner.
CEO & FOUNDER
DIVINE (THE URBAN ENTREPRENEUR)
Divine is a disruptor in every sense of the word with his relentless ambition, determination, grind and hustle. He is a visionary, leader and a raw and intuitive entrepreneurial thinker with infectious energy and passion, and relentless focus and drive. A former substantial street hustler, and Hip-Hop/Rap recording artist turned tech entrepreneur, he first appeared on the tech community radar in 2014 when he reached out to famed Silicon Valley venture capitalist (VC) Ben Horowitz, Co-Founder of top-tier VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), on social media via Twitter, and the two eventually became friends. A year later, with only an 8th grade formal education and no tech background, Divine would found his first startup, BLAK Fintech.
Divine has over 15 years of experience in the urban music industry, culture and lifestyle marketing, as well as 2 years in fintech focused on prepaid debit cards, banking and payment systems, and emerging financial technology. His personal redemptive life story and journey into technology has been an inspiration to many. Divine has been featured via such media outlets as Forbes, TechCrunch, Black Enterprise and Entrepreneur. Being a formerly incarcerated individual with a decade of incarceration, as an inspirational speaker, Divine now utilizes his life story and journey of redemption to inspire people worldwide.
This year, he was selected as a keynote speaker by Georgia State University’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Institute’s Russell Center, for their Influential Speaker Series, and for the annual event, France Fintech: Revolution held in Paris. He has been featured at numerous events focused on diversity and inclusion in tech, and most recently become a voice against mass incarceration and for criminal justice reform. Divine is currently writing a book on his life, is now a Contributor to Black Enterprise (BE), and is set to appear at this year’s BE Tech Connext Summit.
GREG SELKOE (THE STREETWEAR KING)
Greg is an innovative visionary who founded Karmaloop.com in 2000 and grew it into the largest Streetwear eCommerce site in the world. Karmaloop did over $1 billion in lifetime revenue during Greg’s 15 year tenure as CEO. The company had six years of $100 million+ annual revenue, six years of profit, and, at its peak, 4 million monthly unique visitors and an opt-in email list of over 5 million. Greg’s cutting-edge and innovative viral grassroots marketing strategies won many awards, and in 2012 he received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the eCommerce Category.
Greg was named one of the “Top 35 Entrepreneurs of the Year under 35” by the Summit Series in 2009, and one of Goldman Sachs’ “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs” in 2013. Greg holds a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School with a focus on City/Urban, Community and Regional Planning.
CHAIRMAN & INVESTOR
WILL HAYES (THE BIG DATA TECHNOLOGIST)
Will is the President and CEO of Lucidworks and has run startups in Big Data and Technology for 15 years. Will has served as the Director of Business Development, Senior Solutions Architect and Engineering Program Manager at various tech companies with successful exits, and has extensive hands-on experience in engineering and programming, business development, Big Data and Technology.
NNENA UKUKU (THE LEGAL POWERHOUSE)
Nnena is BLAK's Counsel via Venture Gained Legal (VGL), a boutique law firm she founded with partner Laura Slezinger, specializing in Corporate and Intellectual Property, overseeing all of BLAK's legal. Nnena enthusiastically embraced the vision and mission of BLAK and didn't hesitate to come on, knowing the necessity of such a startup as BLAK to solve a huge problem while having social impact.
"My goal is rather simple—it is to take all my varied experiences and use them in a way that my client’s business dreams become reality. I am client-centered, and because I am I work tirelessly for my clients. I care about their dreams."
Nnena is also the Co-Founder and former CEO of Black Founders Startup Ventures, whose mission is "...to increase the number of successful black entrepreneurs in technology."
WEALTH BUILDING DIRECTOR
DAZZLE BHUJWALA (THE WEALTH IMPACT GURU)
Dazzle is focused on steering institutional and private wealth towards responsible investments with social and environmental impact. With 15 years of global experience in investment advisory at leading international banks, he has held leadership roles while managing an investment portfolio of over $1B for institutional investors and multimillionaires. A former Director at UBS, his forte is building new businesses and developing strategic relationships.
As the Founder of, and Advisor to Columbia Sustainable Finance Professionals Network (CSFPN), his effort is to connect academia and industry to promote sustainable investments. Dazzle holds a Masters in Sustainability Management from Columbia University, New York. He also holds an MBA from Gujarat University, India and brings an astute mix of business and finance, while leading sustainable initiatives. Having lived and worked in America, Asia and the Middle East, he adds a global perspective to business operations.
IN-RESIDENCE TECH TEAM
Obiye is BLAK's In-Residence Tech Team Lead Software Programmer. Obiye has a BS in Computer Engineering with a very apparent gift for programming, and a penchant for deep philosophy. Obiye is a social entrepreneur using business as a tool for development. He has over 5 years of software development experience including contract work for the U.S. Government. Obiye is the founder of and mastermind behind all back-end application development at Edure IT™.
LEAD PROJECT MANAGER
Valé is BLAK's In-Residence Tech Team Lead Project Manager. Valé has a Masters in Global Governance and International Security. Valé is the unifying engine behind getting BLAK's projects off of the ground and flying. She brings a diverse set of practical skills and know-how to our In-Residence Tech Team from her 9 years of diverse professional experience including time working at the U.N. View her inspiring TEDx Talk Protect the Girl Child.
Paulo is BLAK's In-Residence Tech Team Lead Designer. Paulo has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). Paulo's specialties include UI (User Interface), logo and website design and development, as well as strategic thinking. He has over 7 years of professional experience and is the creative talent that makes the front-end design of BLAK's products and services possible.
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TARIQ ALI ASGHAR
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BLAK WEALTH ADVISORS
FINANCIAL LITERACY ADVISOR
SARA J. BRONSON
CEO & FOUNDER OF SARA J. BRONSON & ASSOCIATES
ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION ADVISOR
CEO & FOUNDER OF
WEB & MOBILE DEVELOPER
DEV T. SMITH
NATIONAL COMMUNITY OUTREACH DIRECTOR