Here at Work In Startups, we’re on a mission to champion the best and most exciting startups in the UK. To support this, we’re starting a new blog series highlighting some of the most innovative and fast-growing startups around. Follow us as we interview startup founders and employees across the country and find out more about their goals and ambitions, what the future holds and (for all you startup jobseekers out there looking for the inside scoop) what they look for in a prospective employee.
This week, we’re interviewing Munya, Founder and CEO of Blkgrid, a young startup focused on empowering black professionals and black owned businesses. (and they’re hiring for Executive Assistant and Social Media Manager on Work in Startups!)
Tell us about Blkgrid! How did it all start and what are your goals?
The initial idea for Blkgrid came about in the autumn of 2018. Myself (Munya) and Co-founder/CTO Cruize were paying close attention to the social and economic challenges that were affecting black communities within the UK and across the world. We decided that a lot of issues needed to be solved from an economic forefront. So Blkgrid looked to solve this issue by creating a space for black opportunity and collaboration. We’re a startup that provides black students, professionals and freelancers access to opportunities at inclusive companies and startups. We also facilitate funding and advice for black entrepreneurs, across all aspects of tech and non-tech startups. On top of all this, as a Blkgrid member you get discounts while shopping with black owned businesses, supporting small businesses within the community.
As a company we look to become the number one place for inclusive corporates, startups and small businesses to hire black talent. More importantly, through our platform we aim to support black individuals to create and develop businesses, community initiatives and skill share. While celebrating our rich plethora of cultures along the way.
What are your values as an ambitious startup?
First and foremost, we are here to make a positive social impact, creating a more level playing field for the black professionals and freelancers of tomorrow. We are living in a changing world and we believe that Blkgrid can help to contribute to building a more equitable society.
We know that as a startup, it is important that we continue to be creative and brave. Creative in the way we provide our services and create products and solutions. As co-founders we find inspiration from different types of individuals, communities and spaces. This helps inform how we approach business on a daily basis but also over a long-term period. We are well aware by staying creative we are able to innovate effectively and develop an authentic brand. Being brave is also key. At Blkgrid we are not scared to ask big questions, tackle big challenges and take a different route from the rest of the crowd. Ultimately, we hope this will foster a positive and unique experience when we cater to our members and clients alike.
More importantly, we are a family and we treat the people that we recruit as such. We are aware that working in a startup can be fast and stressful. We want to make sure that everyone’s well-being is properly catered for. It is important that we make people who work here feel comfortable enough to be able to express their ideas and have their input heard. This is why we love to work with people who are personable, hungry to learn and have something unique to contribute to Blkgrid.
With your current knowledge and what you’ve learnt so far, is there any advice would you give yourself back when you were just getting started?
The biggest lesson we have learnt thus far, is it that it’s really important to be always ready to adapt. Naturally, creating a startup and developing it into a leading business, is a wonderful journey which requires a lot of planning. However, for anyone to learn very quickly, you must be willing to refine plans. Looking back, we would say to our former selves, be continually open to learning from these lessons and then adapt plans accordingly.
What is next for Blkgrid and what are the goals for 2021?
In early 2021, we shall release our full range of services. We are currently in our beta period and looking forward to working with a range of corporates, startups and SMEs to help them recruit talented black individuals to work at their companies. We are particularly excited about our ‘Neighbourhood’ membership network, which will grant our users discounts, at a wide range of black businesses. Additionally, we’re really excited about the release and impact of ‘Blkgrid Action’. Action is our non-profit arm that will aim to use donations and a portion of our company profits to fund grass-roots community projects across the country to help curb socio-economic problems that our community may face.
What’s a question you’d like to ask a successful startup or a high growth startup?
The main question would be, how do you continue to attract and nurture relationships with B2B customers. This is an area that we are continually keen to learn about as we look to help businesses embrace and benefit from input of black professionals and freelancers.
Blkgrid roles on Work In Startups: