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Uncommon voices

You might have to intentionally look beneath all the rethinking, reimagining, frustration, and setbacks of 2018 to see progress, but it was there. The sparks of progress were lit, and kept burning, by some uncommon folks.

Janice Omadeke, SOE

“Not every great idea generator creating a billion-dollar company will be what society says they’ll look like. You can’t check the boxes when it comes to innovation.”

Janice Omadeke, The Mentor Method

Natasha Kirsch, The Grooming Project

“I love being an entrepreneur, and the only reason I have success at all is because of a dozen strangers that took me on as their mentee. Now I can pay it forward.”

William Thomas, MORTAR

“I believe we will only be able to better more entrepreneurs in Cincinnati, but we are also building the foundation to support more minority entrepreneurs across the country.”

Uncommon Voices

“Uncommon is not a huge, multi-lateral collection of policies, initiatives, and legislation. It is the smallest act. Moment of interaction. Expression of courtesy. Gift of opportunity. Support of equity. Those collective uncommon acts from uncommon people will make all the difference.”

Pauly Ramirez, 7Qubes

“There’s not a lot of women who pitch… Latina women who pitch. Making that jump was hard for me to actually be confident enough to pitch to someone and say, like, ‘Hey, this is who I am.’ It took a lot of mentoring with different people… that’s kind of when it all switched: ‘I am an entrepreneur. I can do this.'”

Shelly Bell, Black Girl Ventures

“Consider ‘hyping it up’ as allies advocating in every room. Consider ‘hyping up’ as completely overwhelming the existing biases with a mainstay of normalcy that flips skepticism into excitement. #thatshype”

Edie Ramstad, Weave Got Maille

“You know you have the right people handling things when in 45 minutes over pizza you can talk about a world issue, come up with a way to help, and start a new company all at once. How can you not be excited about a team like that?”

You can’t make someone woke, but you can make them uncomfortable in their sleep.

Christopher Emdin
Hip Hop Ed

> 81%

of entrepreneurs do not access a bank loan or venture capital.

“To fuel startups, and the U.S. startup rate, founders need access to a variety of funding opportunities.”

Ross Baird, Kauffman Foundation Innovator-in-Residence


of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or child of immigrants.

“As policymakers grapple with these difficult questions, two critical realities are too often forgotten amid the haze of fractious political debate – the connection between entrepreneurship and economic prosperity, and the importance of immigrants to American entrepreneurship.”

John Dearie, Center for American Entrepreneurship

Melissa Roberts, ECJC

“Entrepreneurship is urgent. The state must take a new approach to innovation and economic development. Lawmakers saw this need, and the Innovation Caucus was created.”

Miriam Rivera, Ulu Ventures

“Diverse teams tend to be more effective, more profitable, and more likely to outperform less diverse organizations because their backgrounds give them a wider array of tools and talent. On the frontier of disruptive technologies, our diversity as a nation remains critical in giving us distinct advantages in the global marketplace.”

Riley Dotson, Northland CAPS

“If I were to totally rework education from the ground up, I would, from the very beginning, encourage this air of collaboration – learn to communicate, color outside the lines, facilitate curiosity, and draw from your resources. From a very early age, I would teach tolerance and acceptance.”

Cle Ross, MLB Kansas City Urban Youth Academy
Sandlot baseball at the Kansas City Youth Academy. Photo by Christopher Smith

“Baseball is the one sport that really reflects life. In baseball, you fail 70 percent of the time, and if you can be successful 30 percent of the time, you’re a Hall of Famer. That’s kind of how life is, you’re gonna fail a lot in life, but if you can overcome failure, you can overcome diversity, you can do anything.”

Cle Ross, MLB Kansas City Urban Youth Academy


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