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pharrell black ambition
Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan, Boddle

In a partnership with Adidas, Chanel, The Rockefeller Foundation, and others, Pharrell Williams launched the Black Ambition Project last December. Black Ambition is a non-profit initiative created for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs of tech, design, healthcare, and consumer products/services start-ups.

“Recent events and tragedies have illustrated the always existent stark divisions in the American experience, and while entrepreneurship has long been a tenet of the American dream, marginalized people have faced long-standing barriers to success,” Williams said in the non-profit’s release. “With Black Ambition, the goal is to help strengthen the pipeline of talented entrepreneurs and close the opportunity and wealth gaps derived from limited access to capital and resources.”

Detroit winners

The $1 million grand prize winners were announced last week as Justin Turk and Andre Davis of Livegistics. Livegistics is a cloud-based material management operating system that connects all stakeholders of a construction project in a real-time GPS tracked and mapping network of digital information. The company understands the components needed for a renaissance movement and is committed to providing a product and experience that will revolutionize the construction industry that is ripe for change.

“Winning this competition is bigger than just the prize money,” Turk said in the release. “When we first entered the tech start-up world as two Black entrepreneurs, we had no idea how to navigate in this space.”

Tulsa winners

Two Tulsa-based start-ups received prize money totaling $300,000.

Quirkchat, founded by Bee Law, is a social video and collaboration platform for self-proclaimed geeks and hobbyists that emphasizes community moderation and community building. The company received $250,000 from the Black Ambition Project.

“Compared to the other cities that we’ve worked in, Tulsa’s start-up ecosystem feels free and exciting,” Law said in a statement. “The budding energy of entrepreneurship is very evident when working out of 36 Degrees North, and we are excited to be a part of it. After only being here for a month, we’ve been able to connect with both potential technical talent and capital resources to support our venture.”

Boddle Learning, founded by Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan, is a gamified education platform that helps content providers such as teachers and publishers transform digital learning content into interactive and personalized experiences using 3D games and adaptive technology. According to their website, Boddle Learning is used in all 50 states and in over 100 countries across the world.

“To be selected from hundreds of other companies to receive this finalist award is an honor,” Martinson said in a statement. “We’re excited to put the investment to good use and leverage the connections made available through Black Ambition to further our mission to inspire learning and improve student outcomes.”

With more than 1,700 companies applying to the competition, Black Ambition had its work cut out to narrow the field down to it’s finalists. All finalists received a minimum of $15,000 and will continue receiving mentorship through August.

Mike Creef is a fighter for equality and justice for all. Growing up bi-racial (Jamaican-American) on the east coast allowed him to experience many different cultures and beliefs that helped give him a...