Many people have dreams and ideas, but how can they transform them into a viable business? For most budding entrepreneurs, the answer is found in funding and other opportunities designed to level the playing field.
In an effort to facilitate that transformation, financial services and mobile payment company Cash App sponsored the 2020 AfroTech World’s Young Founders Pitch Competition. Gaining steam as a must-attend event, this competition provides young entrepreneurs and founders the chance to formally pitch their businesses, and rising startup Undelay secured their spot as the winner — earning a grand prize of $25,000 in the process.
Founded by Safir Monroe, Undelay has secured a creative niche by developing proprietary technology that converts hundreds of radio conversations into text simultaneously. According to the company, “With this data, airports and travel companies can find out if a flight will be delayed a significant amount of time before that delay is reported.”
This tech is a potential game-changer in an industry that’s projected to lose more than $8.2 billion annually due to flight delays alone.
Also coming in strong at the pitch competition were finalists Curl IQ and Yunit, who each earned $15,000 in cash prizes for their brands. This is a major win for Kymberlee Hill, founder of Curl IQ, an innovative startup that identifies any hairstyle or texture from a single photo. For any woman who’s ever struggled to identify their curl pattern, Curl IQ has the potential to completely change the narrative.
For Black women especially, being able to identify and differentiate hair textures opens up a host of possibilities within the natural hair care realm. Curl IQ describes this initiative as “building AI + AR technology for textured hair care and eliminating CurlyGirlProblems.”
“You can think of us as Shazam, but for hair care,” they added.
Rounding out the finalists is the Philip Aubry-founded Yunit, a startup that is making waves as an innovative, social savings application. Through the app, users can securely create savings goals and invite friends to join them on their financial journey.
“We are attacking consumer savings from a radically different angle. We make transparency, structure and community around finances, which has helped people triple their savings in less than six months,” Phillip explained.
It’s a mission that has enabled the brand to thrive — not too bad for a young business owner who was recently added to Forbes’ coveted 30 Under 30 list.
For Yunit, the goal is simple. “Above all else, Yunit passively teaches people elements of money management: being patient and having a plan. Our impact is that we are enabling a group of disenfranchised people, like myself, to come together, create a plan and execute it,” said Philip.
Through the Young Founders Pitch Competition, Cash App has created a platform for young founders to present business strategies and ideas to their community while competing for a chance to win cash prizes, access to discounted hardware provided by Square and other educational resources.
After being crowned the winner, Undelay’s Safir is paying it forward and sharing what he’s learned. “Before anyone starts a technology company, I would strongly advise them to read The Lean Startup [by Eric Ries]. This book showed me how I should develop features for my application based on specific feedback from my customers, and how not to fall into the trap of constantly building products no one wanted or asked for,” said Safir.
This is sage advice for anyone who wants to transform their business idea into reality. Thanks to Cash App, these rising startups are empowered to continue doing just that.
Watch the 2020 AfroTech World Young Founders Pitch Competition here.
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Cash App.