British-Nigerian Kike Oniwinde is continuing to make strides. Her UK-based networking app dedicated to Black professionals exceeded its initial £500,000 equity crowdfunding target on Seedrs in five days.
The Black Young Professionals (BYP) Network often described as the “LinkedIn for black professionals” is spearheaded by Forbes 30 under 30 former Team Great Britain athlete Oniwinde. More recently the 27-year-old was recognized by Forbes as a Black British business person to follow.
Oniwinde says she built the platform to highlight Black British talent in all industries and give these professionals a place they could feel like they were not in the minority. In an interview with UrbanGeekz, she explains why she launched the equity crowdfunding campaign.
“Crowdfunding to gain investment from my community is very important to me. BYP Network focuses on changing the black narrative and empowering us through knowledge, advice, and opportunities,” she says. “The investment world is not diverse and usually reserved for the very elite and as a black founder it’s very difficult to raise. Having our community as investors is part of us changing the narrative.”
“There’s a lot of Black people doing well in different fields across the board that are not represented,” she says in an interview for BBC. “BYP Network is all about bringing that talent all on one platform, so others can see us and know that we exist.”
According to her Twitter, 711 investors helped the company reach its goal of £500,000 five days after the crowdfunding effort began July 3. And as of July 16, more 900 investors have participated in the equity offering, raising the total invested to just over £567,000. The fundraising efforts are still ongoing because Seedrs allows overfunding.
BYP Network began in 2016 following the start of the Black Lives Matter movement and is working to change the narrative by connecting Black professionals and corporations.
Operated as a freemium app, users can join groups, browse and add events, view the jobs board, and post their business for free. Users can also choose a monthly £5 premium member and £10 premium business member fee to browse other users, amplify their posts, and post opportunities.
Businesses can also pay a monthly fee of £1k – £5k for 6-months or 12-months on the platform. These packages include a “pick and mix of job postings, webinars, and candidate shortlisting.” And big names like Morgan Stanley, Cisco, and BNY Mellon have already signed contracts.
But the app is more than a “Black LinkedIn.” It offers its more than 40,000 members professional development blogs and newsletters, leadership podcasts, events, and opportunities for mentorship on its social network. And all of this work is supported by its partners in companies like Adobe, Netflix, Airbnb, Accenture, and many others.
According to the promotional video, BYP Network intends to use this additional funding to scale its team to match the expected growth potential. And with more than 1.2 million Black people of working age in the UK alone and a global recruiting market of roughly $250 billion, the growth potential for BYP Network is large.
Oniwinde predicts this cash will help the company increase membership to 500,000 users with roughly 2% on the paid model. She also aims to have over a million in revenue through corporate partnerships.
BYP Network offered 5.88% in equity at an £8,008,412 pre-money valuation.