September 21, 2020

Reflecting on 1 year of Dyversifi – Part 1

This week, Dyversifi turns 1 year old!

We launched Dyversifi on September 23, 2019 as an idea, but over the last year, we’ve gotten nothing but encouragement and reinforcement that we have something that can be a great business, but more importantly, we have something that minorities need.

This is not to say that the last 12 months have been easy. We hit some challenges – some that we’ve been able to work through, and some that we’re still trying to figure out. Dumebi and I have both grown as Founders and as people in the past year, and we wanted to use this opportunity to share some of the business and life lessons that we’ve learned with our community.

1. Accept your privilege

As someone who’s been studying inclusion and diversity for the past two years, I thought I was at least aware of all of the different forms of social inequality out there. However, especially over the past few months, I’ve realized just how short-sighted I was, specifically with regards to gender inequality. After Oluwatoyin Salau was sexually assaulted and killed in Florida, I wrote a letter to Black men about how we need to embrace the idea that while we are marginalized because of our race, there are so many challenges that we don’t see because we have the privilege of being men.

Dyversifi is all about people self-identifying and sharing their perspectives. I’ve learned so much about different people’s experiences over the last year, but I’ve also learned a lot about just how privileged I am to identify as male, and able-bodied, and heterosexual. We’re all using this time to push for complete inclusion, and to do that, we have to acknowledge the privileges that we have over others. We can be aware of our privileges while still working to create equality in the areas where we are marginalized.

2. Meet people where they are

When the BLM protests erupted in June, I remember being so frustrated with all of the white people around me who seemed to just be hearing about the racial inequality that Black people have been dealing with for centuries. I made conscious decisions to block people on social media who remained silent because I took it as a sign that they were being willfully ignorant.

A few weeks into June, after my emotions settled, I did some self-reflection and realized that it’s so easy to ignore something that isn’t in your face. Going back to the previous example about my privileges as a man and my obliviousness to the challenges that women face, my female friends could have just as easily written me off for my ignorance. Rather, the women in my life, specifically my sister and Co-Founder, Dumebi, have been open to schooling me when opportunities have presented themselves.

Inclusion is a journey, and everyone is at a different point on their journey. This goes for individuals, but it also goes for companies. While I want companies to be more proactive about improving their workplaces and do more than a BLM Instagram post, for some companies, that alone is a big step for some. We have to keep this concept in mind and be willing to meeting people (and companies) where they are.

Note: this is not to say that it is the oppressed party’s job to educate the oppressor. Nope.

3. Use the internet

When we first started Dyversifi, we had so many questions: What’s an MVP? How do we announce our launch? Do we need a newsletter? How do we actually get users? Do we need to raise money? If we do, should we approach seed investors or venture capitalists? A better question, what’s the difference between seed and VC? How do we incorporate?

About 70% of business is the same regardless of what the business actually does. Accounting, legal, HR; none of it is specific to an individual business. Nowadays, there are so many resources available to entrepreneurs to streamline these pieces. It’s easy to feel like you’ll never be able to learn everything, get deterred, and just quit.

This sounds obvious, but the internet really is an incredible place. We’ve been able to find solutions to most of our business problems. Here are a few of our favorite resources:

4. Don’t ever think that you’re on your own

If we’ve learned nothing else over the past year, it’s that we have an amazing support system. Dumebi and I owe a debt of gratitude to our friends and family, who we’ve pestered about everything from reviewing mockups, to submitting Stories, to reposting our Instagram content. We have always had a group of people that we can go to for quick feedback, and that has been invaluable in getting to where we are today.

We have also had so many people volunteer to be informal mentors. Some have helped us with marketing/branding, some with our pitch decks and reaching out to investors, and some with sales material. All of these people have identified with our vision for the company, and it’s been really cool to see them selflessly offer up their expertise.

The lesson here is that, as a founder or leader, you are never on your own. You have a group of family and friends that are willing to help you out whenever and wherever, and it’s so important to ask for help when you need it.

More than anything, Dumebi and I want to express a sincere THANK YOU to everyone that’s supported us. That thank you is extended to those volunteer mentors and support groups, but also to you for just reading this article.

We realize that the work we are doing is important and much needed, and we’re more motivated than ever to build out Dyversifi and help as many minorities as we can. We’re absolutely ecstatic to see what this coming year has in store for Dyversifi and for the community, and we hope that you stick with us for the ride!

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