Serial entrepreneur James Oliver Jr. is riding high. His newly launched startup Kabila has just been accepted onto the highly competitive Techstars Accelerator program.
Oliver and his co-founders have joined 11 other promising companies in the Techstars Austin Accelerator 2020 fall cohort. The program kicked off this week.
Currently, in beta with registered users, Kabila is slated or officially launch in October. Kabila is a co-founder matching app for tech startup founders that matches founders of all backgrounds.
The app works on a subscription-based model. Peaks include talks, services, microgrants of up to $1000, and access to like-minded entrepreneurs in the Kabila global community.
Oliver describes his “predominant feeling of gratitude” for being in a position to create a space for Black and Latinx founders. It offers Kabila the chance to “make a dent in the universe of Techstars startups around the world,” he says.
With 150 members already signed up, Kabila is working on the app prototype which will launch on a city-by-city basis. The team is also busy tweaking their MVP and launching a funding round to lock in capital.
James Oliver Jr’s co-founder and COO Marcella Hall came to Kabila as a fan of Parentrepreneur [Oliver’s foundation], joining Kabila from Twillo. CTO Caleb Martinez, who has come from NCR as an engineer, has full-stack development experience. “VC’s want to see you have a team,” confesses Oliver, “having a partner in this journey is huge.”
Subscription is currently free, and Oliver promises that the “grandparent” Kabila members will never have to pay. Once fully launched, the goal is to launch a paid subscription model.
Kabila boasts on-demand access to expertise through a series of weekly talks; Kabila conversations. Previous talks include pitch perfection, pitch deck tips with Allison Byers, CEO of Scroobious; tips on taking your startup from pre-stage to seed-stage funding with Leslie Feinzaig CEO of Graham & Walker, and more. Kabila also offers its members access to Notion and Airtable, and minority entrepreneurs gain access to free legal aid.
The give-first mindset is a cornerstone of the Kabila values. Inspired by the co-founders of Techshars, Brad Feld and David Cohen, Oliver seeks to change the “insidious scarcity mindset found among early-stage entrepreneurs”. For Oliver, giving is about “finding time to give something, no matter how small; be it sharing something on LinkedIn, commenting, giving your time or connecting with people”. In adopting the give-first mindset, Kabila seeks to initiate a positive feedback loop in its community.
Such a generous mindset hasn’t always been second nature to founder Oliver. Growing up in “a neighborhood that embodied this scarcity mindset”, Oliver had to learn to shift his perspective, saying “struggle is not a word in my vocabulary.”
Founder of the Parentrepreneur Foundation for black parents and entrepreneurs, Oliver understands the challenges of “walking the entrepreneurial tightrope without a net”. He talks openly about the pressure of providing for your family whilst starting a business in his book The More you Hustle the Luckier you Get.
Oliver says he learned the importance of “showing up, doing the work, and empathizing with your community” from good friend and marketing guru Seth Godin. “I show up how I show up; authenticity is key” insists Oliver.