James Oliver Jr. wants to make it easier for entrepreneurs to find co-founders.
That’s why he created Kabila. The inception of the Atlanta, GA-based venture dates back to 2013 when his first startup, WeMontage, hit the market. He recalls several stumbling blocks as a non-technical founder creating software.
“We built the world’s only website at the time — I shut it down recently — that let you turn your digital images into removable photo wallpaper,” Oliver told AfroTech in an exclusive interview. “It was a brilliant product, but it required complicated software. I didn’t know how to code. I was living in Wisconsin at the time, a million miles from friends and family, and I didn’t know how to code, and I couldn’t find a co-founder. So, I understand uniquely the pain of needing a co-founder and not being able to find one.”
Through Kabila, users can connect with founders organically. The company website says it eliminates unconscious bias by pairing users to founders without showing their education, work history, gender, or ethnicity. It is only after connecting that a user can gain access to personal information.
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“We’re banking inclusion into our app,” Oliver mentioned. “So, if you look at the app, you don’t see people’s full names or their pictures on the app. It’s not until you connect with somebody that you get to see all that information about them. We are connecting people based on things that matter, like vision and values, mission, and skills alignment.”
He added, “We don’t care about where you went to school, where you work. Those things in our view perpetuate the status quo, which is what’s keeping overlooked founders from getting ahead right now.”
Connection To Community
Additionally, Oliver wants to ensure founders on the applications can receive additional support by connecting with a wider community and gaining access to resources.
The company is backed by Techstars, one of the largest pre-seed investors in the world, according to Techstars. And Kabila’s website mentions benefits such as access to Techstars’ team and startup resources, as well as member-only events led by investors.
“Investors invest in lines, not dots. If the first time you meet an investor, you’re asking them for money, you failed,” Oliver said. “You have to find ways to help them get to know you and give them some data points so that they can connect the dots and make a line, and they feel comfortable with you to get you into the accelerator or to write you a check. So, we do a lot of things around connecting overlooked founders to investors, accelerator directors, and asset allocators.”
Furthermore, Kabila offers mental health resources and no-cost legal services for minority and women founders, in partnership with law firm Wiggin and Dana.
“We have a partnership with Wiggin and Dana, which is a national law firm, and once a month we open it up for five founders in our community to get free legal services,” Oliver shared. “We have one woman founder on the West Coast, she received $15,000 worth of free legal work. That’s a game changer.”
Looking to the future, Kabila plans to launch in-person co-founder matching events, beginning in Atlanta Tech Village before expanding across the United States.