The first full day of Black Wall Street Homecoming culminated in what has become the norm for startup events—a pitch competition. Yet, the Black Wall Street Homecoming angle was clear: connect companies with a wider network. 

Bull McCabe’s, the Durham staple Irish pub, hosted the evening event, complete with outdoor stage and professional lighting. Ten founders pitched on a stage surrounded by sleek signage and Christmas lights.

Competitors were prohibited from using pitch decks and product demonstrations. Instead, they had four minutes to convince the judges—Diishan Imara of Mayvenn and Christina Francis and Ryan Smith of Magic Johnson Enterprises —that their startup was worthy of a $2,500 investment from Magic Johnson Enterprises. 

WRAL TechWire coverage of Black Wall Street, Black Founders Exchange events:

  • Black Founders event drawing near-capacity crowd
  • The Inspiration of White House SXSL
  • Black Wall Street, American Underground take students to SXSL
  • ​Black Founders Exchange comes to Durham
  • Why AU is bringing Black Founders Exchange to Durham
  • Google for Entrepreneurs, AU team up to host black founders event

In sharp contrast to the typical competition demographics, all the participants and judges were African American.

Shaun Andrews, a former Winston-Salem State University football player, took home the $2,500 prize for InspireInYou, his startup dedicated to making the process of finding resources for those suffering from mental health issues easier and more effective. On winning, he says, “the money is good, but just being in the room was worth coming.”

Talib Graves-Manns, former CODE 2040 EIR and Black Wall Street Homecoming co-founder, says “that’s what happens at our events, everyone walks off with a larger network.” Because he says and the other organizers, “believe early stage entrepreneurs need support and a network even more than money.”

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