This week, WHA features a guest column by one of our long-time partners in the State Capitol, Representative Jason Fields, along with Kimberly Clark’s Pete Dulcamara. Fields, A Democrat from Milwaukee, is respected on both sides of the political aisle for his work around community revitalization through economic development. Fields is not seeking reelection in 2020, instead choosing to serve Wisconsin through new and expanding partnerships, one of which is described below.
That phrase is used by my friend and me to describe the approach to economic justice we believe is needed today. This friend, who I now consider a brother, is Pete Dulcamara, the Chief Scientist of Kimberly Clark.
For months now Pete and I have been working on closing the racial wealth gap here in Wisconsin. While there may be a number of ways to address this issue, Pete and I agree that the way we wanted to solve this problem was by implementing strategies that would revolve around entrepreneurship. Instead of focusing on the negatives we would direct our energy, time, and effort and treat this initiative as if this was a competition, hence we intuitively chose to move as if this were a “race to the top.”
After deciding that we wanted to focus on entrepreneurship we began making phone calls, attending numerous zoom meetings and searching for models that were successful in launching entrepreneurship initiatives. We felt that doing this with a focus on African American urban centers would not merely be the right thing to do, but it would be financially good for our economy. We set out to find successful models that could be expanded to or even replicated here in Wisconsin. Likewise, we were not only interested in learning what models, programs, and strategies worked, we were also very intentional about determining what didn’t work.
If I were to ask you, have you ever heard of 4D Healthware
? No! How about CourMed
If you haven’t, please don’t worry; after reading this article you will see exactly what we mean when we say that by focusing on entrepreneurship, “A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats, Not Just Yachts!”
By focusing on entrepreneurship, and in this case, entrepreneurs of color who are also focused on entrepreneurship within the health care industry, we can not only attract talent to Milwaukee, Wisconsin but we can also begin to address the wealth gap. Not to mention that we could also begin addressing health disparities, lack of innovation, and in far too many undeserved and under targeted communities, the ability to participate in the new economy.
Let’s take a look at the five companies I referenced earlier in this article. All are African American-founded and led startups that are making waves in the health care arena across the country and globe!
- 4D Healthcare: Founded by Star Cunningham, 4D Healthcare announced that it launched a new COVID-19 monitoring platform, based on its original software, which allows for remote monitoring, physician and lab-supported diagnosis, and at-home treatment. 4D Healthware’s new COVID-19 platform is based on its original software, which uses health data from wearable devices, such as Fitbits or Apple Watches, to help people with chronic conditions monitor their health more effectively. Patients with COVID-19, however, need 4D’s hardware to monitor the illness as most consumer wearables cannot. 4D mainly targets Medicare patients but also accepts patients with private insurance. The startup employs 20 people, one of which is a physician, and the startup has raised more than $4 million since launching in 2012.
- Cara Care: Founded by Dr. André Sommer and Jesaja Brinkmann in 2016, Cara Care is a Berlin-based subsidiary of HiDoc Technologies that develops digital treatment strategies for patients suffering from chronic digestive conditions. It is estimated that gastrointestinal disease expenditure in the U.S. totals $136 billion annually, exceeding the nation’s yearly spending on heart disease ($113 billion), trauma ($103 billion), and mental health ($99 billion). Gut ailments affect an estimated 60 million to 70 million Americans each year, resulting in over 4 million hospitalizations, 72 million ambulatory care visits, and 236,000 deaths. Today, the startup announced that it has secured $7 million in a series A funding round led by JJDC (Johnson & Johnson Innovation) and Asabys Partners, with participation from existing investor Atlantic Labs, bringing Cara Care’s total raised to about $9 million. The startup says it will use the new funds to conduct additional research, expand and create new partnerships with diagnostic labs and food manufacturing companies, and grow its mobile app’s footprint – with a primary focus on the U.S.
- CourMed: Founded by Derrick L. Miles, CourMed provides enterprise software and innovative delivery (crowdsourced, route, drone and autonomous vehicle) services from health care providers to a patient’s home or office. Their primary focus is to serve health care providers by delivering quality service to their patients, while ensuring a safe platform for our crowdsourced drivers. As a Healthcare Partner, individuals will have the confidence of knowing that their products will be delivered to their patients with care, on time, and confirmed with the patient’s signature. All CourMed drivers are trained, HIPAA certified, and encouraged to wear branded CourMed attire.
- Streamlytics: Founded by Angela Benton, Streamlytics is creating the future of data transactions with B2C products to help users reclaim ownership of their own data and give them a chance to monetize it. Companies pay Streamlytics for access to this treasure trove of packaged data through one of our B2B products. The company has built proprietary technology to value personal data streams as well as standardize data transfer formats. Our proprietary data standard UDIF (Universal Data Interchange Format) is the future of data transfers between individuals, products, and organizations. The demand for data is only growing as AI improves, the total addressable market is $1.3T based on the growing activity in Data-Driven Marketing, AI, and the ever-growing spending of streaming companies. In their efforts to bring data ownership back to the people, the company is focused on growing populations. Minority communities are set to be the majority by 2045 in the US and their flagship product, Clture, focuses specifically on this fast-growing group. Since the launch, the company has collected 5M data points in its first week of operation.
- Quartz: Founded by Jonathan Quarles, Quartz Water Source, a company committed to expanding global access to clean water. Founded by natives of Flint, Michigan and inspired by the ongoing water crisis, Quartz brings clean water to those who need it most by offering cutting-edge Atmospheric Water Generation (AWG) technology solutions. Quartz has partnered with Watergen, a global leader in Atmospheric Water Generator technology, to provide plug-and-drink clean water technology, requiring no infrastructure other than electricity, This technology is designed to meet the needs of cities, villages, factories, hospitals, and other areas where water is difficult to access, or current water sources are contaminated, as it generates water at near-industrial scale. As a “second line” clean water solution, supplementing, not replacing, municipal water supply, AWG technology uses the planet’s biggest source of water, the air. The technology also allows for fast and easy deployment in most weather conditions, remote areas and difficult to access locations. Quartz will be focusing on municipalities, hospitals, and prisons in the near-term, with potential expansion into other verticals in the future. The technology behind Quartz can also act as a national disaster solution for government entities, agencies and disaster response organizations with an efficient, mobile, and reliable clean water source for the moment disaster strikes. To further help those without access to clean water, Quartz is committed to donating a portion of proceeds to water-related causes in marginalized communities throughout the U.S.
Imagine if you will, a movement that fosters support, mentorship, innovation, talent recruitment, talent retention, and opportunities whereby individuals would be exposed to the access to capital pipeline that has eluded entrepreneurs of color more often than not, and attract and grow black entrepreneurs right here in Wisconsin.
Enter the Black Entrepreneurship Initiative
The Black Entrepreneurship Initiative:
In this initiative, corporate, philanthropic and community organizations sponsor Black entrepreneurs to receive free access to “The Lonely Entrepreneur Learning Community
” – a one-stop shop for the knowledge, tools and support every Black entrepreneur needs. It provides the four critical elements necessary for empowering Black entrepreneurs:
- Knowledge: a set of over 350 learning modules that cover both the business and personal issues Black entrepreneurs face – including the issues specifically faced by Black entrepreneurs (e.g., capital access, navigating network biases)
- Tools: 100s of templates (e.g., business plans, legal agreements) and reviews of the top vendors and solution providers they need (e.g., accounting software)
- Ongoing Support and Community: through two channels – an online community and weekly group coaching – where they can get their daily questions answered
- Access: 24/7 access from any desktop or mobile device – a key element during COVID
What if the Black Entrepreneurship Initiative could produce more entrepreneurs like the five mentioned above? What if the Black Entrepreneurship Initiative in Milwaukee could attract talented and innovative entrepreneurs of color from across the globe to Wisconsin? We don’t know what the future holds, but we owe it to all Wisconsinites to try to make the future as bright as possible, and we think that’s exactly what the Black Entrepreneurship Initiative could do!
You can learn more about the Wisconsin Black Entrepreneurship Initiative by contacting Jason Fields at 414-810-7196 or visiting the website: The Lonely Entrepreneur Learning Community
The people of Wisconsin have tremendous potential, but the economic progress of some, especially in our Black and minority communities, have obstacles that limit their economic progress. The objective of this initiative is to create a pathway to overcome obstacles so that every person can live to their full potential and achieve economic and social justice by creating a rising tide that lifts all boats, not just yachts!
Jason Fields is a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing the 11th Assembly District. Jason is also the Managing Director of Dark Knight Capital Ventures and serves as the CEO of The Financial Promise Foundation, an organization that teaches Personal Financial & Business Literacy to adults and children. He’s written four books on investing and money management.
Pete Dulcamara is Chief Scientist & Technical Vice-President for the Kimberly-Clark Corporation. He is responsible for building technical talent globally, developing technology strategies at the enterprise level, and fostering a culture of scientific excellence and value creation.