The modern dating perils have devolved into tropes, with everything from horror movies to viral Twitter threads detailing their pitfalls.
But for Chekmate CEO and founder Jimi Tele, these perils can be circumvented by creating authentic and organic relationships, even if the current social environment prevents that from happening.
“What Chekmate does is pandemic-proof,” he exclusively told AfroTech. “What the user will experience, with us, is something extraordinary: verification. And what that means is that we’ve created features — such as our secure selfie log-in feature — that prevents such things as catfishing. We also make it so that there’s no texting — there’s only authentic engagement using real voices. In this way, not only does it prevent the obvious pitfalls, but it also allows the user to form organic and meaningful relationships, regardless of the level it ultimately achieves.”
As a British native with Nigerian heritage, Tele — on the surface — has a slightly different origin story than many Black Americans, but, he says, his life was certainly not one marked by privilege. After a series of unfortunate incidences left his Olympic hopeful career sidelined, Tele decided to shift gears from aspiring professional athlete to an aspiring entrepreneur. His degrees left him with a specialty in location data intelligence — but, he says, Chekmate was founded for a deeper reason.
“My true passion is in creating authentic experiences to alleviate loneliness,” he said. “I know what it feels like to feel abandoned in times of hardship. And with this pandemic, you could say we as a people are lonelier than ever. But my lived experiences — across three different regions of the globe, across a myriad of diverse cultures — help me to offer an essential piece of social capital that others might not have.”
It’s hoped that in the very near future, the pandemic will be behind us and things can get “back to normal” (or, at least, allow us to interact with people without the fear of contracting a deadly disease). Tele teases that, in the near future, Chekmate will pivot with these changing times — “chivalry isn’t dead,” he promises, while offering to drop some interesting news in the near future.
And while Tele’s story is both inspirational and aspirational, he says that he knows aspiring Black tech entrepreneurs will face their own set of hardships — and he hopes that they will look to his story as an example of what it means to overcome even the most impossible of odds.
“You need resilience,” he advises. “You’re going to hear ‘no’ a lot of the time — more often than not, in fact. But you just have to keep going. And if nothing else, you need to remember that you are now, and will always be, more than just ‘your company.'”
Editorial note: Portions of this interview have been edited for clarity.