No. 127: Where Can I Buy African High Fashion?

Africa’s fashion industry has the potential to be massive and you should pay attention to it.

When I found out that Akin Adebowale, Kolade Adeyemo, Bobby Pittman, and the rest of the team were building Oxosi, I couldn’t wait to see what they would come up with.

Oxosi is an e-commerce platform that brings African high fashion to the US. Place your orders! Parts of African fashion have impacted taste in the West for a long time. It is good to see the creators of African fashion get credit for their genius through platforms like this.

The team has raised a good bit of money to start off and if their bet on the appeal of African high fashion in the US hits, Naspers and Tiger Global, two of the biggest investors in e-commerce out there, should pay attention.

Kudos to the Oxosi team. Here’s to, in the words of Paul Judge, building something from nothing.

 

No. 120: 3 Thursday AM Reads – Netflix for Black Folks Mais En Francais | Atlanta Investors Building Tech Ecosystem | Always Be Closing

  1. Francophone Africa and Europe can expect access to more African and African-American content through Afrostream. The two-year old startup led by Tonj√© Bakang has been on a tear this year, finishing up at Y Combinator and landing funding from Troy Carter’s Cross Culture Ventures (have they finished raising their $50M fund?), Orange Digital Ventures, Ace & Company, and The Family. Yesterday, Afrostream announced a content deal with Viacom to stream BET France content and collaborate on developing content. Earlier this fall, the startup inked a content partnership with Sony. The startup wasn’t on my radar before, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out now.

  2. Atlanta’s technology scene continues to grow. Paul Judge and Allen Nance announced a $25M fund that will support hardware and data entrepreneurs in their Tech Square Labs. According to Urvaksh Karkaria, the partners have raised about half of the total fund size, including $2.5M they personally invested. Around $7M has gone into developing Tech Square Labs. These two are really digging in to help entrepreneurs “build something from nothing” as Judge likes to say.

  3. David Cummings’ post on customer acquisition versus product development has been on my mind the past few days. Always be closing!

    No. 87: Build Something From Nothing

    Paul Judge has a mantra – build something from nothing. It’s amazing to watch folks I have met along the way live this out.

    Jehiel Oliver’s startup Hello Tractor was profiled in Fast Company today. It wasn’t too long ago when we sat down at Chinatown Coffee and he told me about this idea he was working on. At the time, the concept of using technology to lower the cost of mechanization for small-scale farmers made a lot of sense. He’s raised a couple million dollars to prove out this idea. If Jehiel is right, Hello Tractor is going to catalyze the productivity of a whole lot of farmers across Africa. McKinsey will owe him thanks for making their projection that the continent’s agricultural productivity could reach $880 billion by 2040 look right. As an aside, I hope the continent can generate a lot more productivity than that. I really don’t want to be eating Soylent.

    Several years ago, my friend Odini Nwakuche told me that he was going to make ties. As an aspiring dandy, I was super excited about the idea, but could not have imagined where Odini and his partner Josh Moore have taken Res Ipsa.  Some time after Odini told me that they were going to try and make shoes. Res Ipsa now has its shoes in several stores in the southeast and they are just beginning. This weekend, I got to hang out with Josh and Odini (pictured above) as they manned their booth for the MRket New York Show, one of the premier menswear trade shows. Everyone from the convention center set-up staff to fellow exhibitors to buyers were checking out their booth. I found myself grinning ear-to-ear with pride at what Odini and Josh have built and look forward to watching them make their mark in menswear.

    Several months ago, Angelina Darrisaw mentioned that she was considering stepping out on her own after distinguishing herself in stints at ESPN and Viacom. I was thrilled to get a LinkedIn notification not long ago indicating that she was Founder of C-Suite Coach. Over the years, I watched Angelina go outside of her comfort zone – joining the track team at Davidson, reach the finals twice in the Miss New York USA. Now, she is stretching herself again as she helps underprivileged millennials achieve professional success.

    My brother, Kwadwo, is a builder. As kids, this man lived at Michael’s, convincing my parents to buy items for him to try out different ideas. To this day, he continues to build things – a carbonated juice company. A production company. SapidMedia Productions, has been a labor of love for several years now and he is scratching the surface. He landed his first corporate client and released a short film in the first six months of this year. Look out for more cool stuff from him this year, and the next, and the next.

    That goes for all the people listed here. This list could be much longer – Cherae Robinson, Eric Osiakwan, Maame Boakye, Nana Ama Afari-Dwamena, Nina Oduro, Eric Guichard, KJ Blackwell, Billy Fennebresque, Robert Long, Whitney White, Bobby Pittman, my dad.

    Who else? Who are some people you know building something from nothing?

    No. 58: Do You Remember the T-Mobile Sidekick?

    Do you remember the T-Mobile Sidekick? Did you ever ask how it was made? I sure did not. Here’s a cool profile on the phone, its creator – Andy Rubin, and its evolution into Android. Incredible stuff.

    I remember some of my classmates at Woodberry having the phone. My only thought on it was that I could not afford it, let alone ask questions about how it was made. Who made it? What is the software like on the phone? What does it take to make that kind of software? Could I make something like that? Pretty simple, but mind-shifting questions, right?

    Growing up, I loved taking apart our home PC and figuring out how to navigate its applications. In response to questions about what I wanted to do in life, I always said computer engineer. At some point, I lost interest thinking that taking apart and putting computers together was as much as I could do in that field. Perhaps, had I not nearly paralyzed myself the first day I ever hit somebody playing football in 7th grade, I would have had the awareness to ask one or two of the above questions (probably not). By this time, I placed a lot of my identity in being an athlete and spent a good bit of my time trying to get better there.

    Over the past few years, I have started asking more of the above questions, and it is fascinating to dig below the surface on the technology we use on a daily basis. I really believe that encouraging these sort of questions in the African-American community is one of the gamechangers for the wealth of the African-American community. Since Black in America aired four years ago, I have discovered more and more black folks who are absolutely killing the technology game – Tristan Walker, John Thompson, Erin Teague, Eghosa Omoigui, Paul Judge, and Chinedu Echeruo, to name a few.

    There’s no limit on how many more black tech leaders there could be. There are certainly a lot of questions that could use some solving:

    • How do we insert more African history into our daily media consumption?
    • How do we increase the efficiency of purchasing Air Jordan’s on release day, and use that event as a teaching moment for investing? How do we create real-time playback analysis of those butt whippings from grandma?
    • How do we nurture the identification of business opportunities between what a kid is learning in school and the real world experiences of his dad who is working two jobs to provide for the family?
    • The list could go on…

    I’m excited about encouraging myself, Anna Olivia, my siblings, and kids who grow up on streets like the one I grew up on to ask and take the next step of building solutions to address them.