Cashblack: Supporting Your Support of Black-Owned Businesses
Tell us about yourself and your startup
I’m the CEO and co-founder of one of the many Black-owned businesses born out of “Black Square Summer”. After months of watching police brutality news reports, anti-racism protests and seeing the world literally change before my eyes, I exchanged my capitalist background as a finance MSc hedge fund trader for an altruistic future as a social entrepreneur with a desire to make the world a better place.
Cashblack is a platform founded by myself and my younger brothers Jonathan and Nicholas that rewards our members with cashback when they shop online with Black-owned businesses. Launching later this year, users will register with us, browse for products and services from Black-owned retailers and when a purchase is made, they are rewarded with cashback that they can withdraw for themselves or donate to one of our affiliated goodwill causes where we’ll match their donation 100%.
What led you to where you are today?
At the start of 2020, I took a sabbatical for a journey of self discovery and independent study to better educate myself on how the world works with an ultimate goal of formulating a business idea to pursue as an entrepreneur. Half way through a year of a global pandemic, a financial crisis and social uprisings, I feel that I, as well as the rest of the world, gained a much clearer perspective on how the world really worked. For myself and my brothers, the global anti-racism protests and the preceding incidents that sparked them made us really think about our place in society as young Black men. Specifically and from a business perspective, the intersectionality of racism and socio-economics for the Black population.
So by the end of that summer, my brothers and I came up with the idea for Cashblack - a platform to incentivise patronage amongst the historically disenfranchised. To support the growing support of Black people, the Black community and, first and foremost, Black-owned businesses.
What has been the biggest highlight of your Founder's journey so far?
The biggest highlight of my founder’s journey has been working with my brothers. Most co-founders tend to meet through networking or through referrals by colleagues or mentors. I was lucky to have met mine many years ago in their respective maternity wards shortly after their births. I’m blessed to have them as family members and, almost as importantly, partners in my founder’s journey.
From the very idea of the business, the early iterations of the platform, to filling up our whiteboard brainstorming ideas for the company - without the tireless work between the three of us, none of this would have materialised.
What lessons have you learnt that you would like to pass on?
The greatest lessons I’ve learned would be the fact that nothing is promised, nobody owes you anything and it’s very much all down to you the individual to make things happen. The journey of an entrepreneur is harder than what’s stated in all the disclaimers from founders, mentors and well-wishers. This being the case, anyone who starts a business must already know the difficulty to be a common conception of the journey.
So despite broken contractual obligations from counterparties, I remind myself that “nothing is promised”. When the hard work we do for an external partner is not reciprocated in kind, I remind myself that “Nobody owes me anything”. And when I feel alone without anyone to whom to turn and help me through this, I remind myself that “It’s down to me to make it happen”.
If you could invite anyone to join the Black Valley community, who and why?
I would invite Timothy Armoo to the Black Valley programme. As the founder of Fanbytes, Timothy scaled his business from a start-up he began in university to an unprecedented success that was acquired this year for a 8-figure sum. As a young, Black entrepreneur who effectively completed the entrepreneurial journey from start to finish, his help and insight as a mentor for others would prove invaluable.
Cashblack’s success is contingent on overcoming the old adage that “Black people aren’t for each other”. We’ve heard this statement or its many derivatives reiterated over the years in a variety of settings, or comparisons to how other communities support each other better. It’s something of which I’ve been warned over the course of this journey and something which we as a company are betting against.
Thankfully, over the past two years, through the research and development we’ve conducted, the various networking events, conferences and trade shows in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire and the heart warming responses and feedback my brothers and I have received on our project - particularly now from Black Valley - I have every faith that the generations beyond us will never have this belief. Not only through times of crisis or as a monolithic defence mechanism, but in all times, I believe that the support amongst Black people will become as ubiquitous and omnipresent as the people themselves.
As such, Cashblack will be a flagbearer to support your support of Black-owned businesses.