Diversity & Inclusion

Immigrant Entrepreneurs Share The Value Of Diversity When Starting A New Business

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Sheila Kasasa

Founder & CEO - FutureFIRST

Changing the face of entrepreneurship to be more inclusive and provide opportunities is the marker of FutureFirst, a purpose-driven company. FutureFirst aims to address the socioeconomic gap between minority youth and their peers; build capacity; and create “ah-ha” moments for youth who never imagined that they could. Sheila Kasasa, CEO and founder, knows the importance of nurturing her entrepreneurial spirit early on. Coming from a strong line of female entrepreneurs, Sheila believes that it is our responsibility to create safe spaces for young people to ideate. FutureFirst and Sheila see the positive impact that cultural diversity has had on entrepreneurship in America. At FutureFirst, cultural diversity is the cornerstone of growth and what teaches individuals to exchange ideas, innovate and grow as a society.

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Andreas Greilhuber

COO - Anyline

With headquarters based in Vienna, Austria and a team that's drawn from all over Europe, Andreas Grielhuber knows the power of diverse perspectives and inclusion to unlock new ideas and innovation. Andrea's team, comprised of people from Germany, Italy, and Austria, tackled the unique way the smartphones process analog information using Artificial Intelligence. Anyline, enables your phone to scan data, accurately and process the results, allowing you to chose how to transform, and action the information.

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Hellmut Adophs

Founder & CTO - Intellei

Hellmut Adophs is no stranger to startup success, founding Condaptive in 2010 and selling it just 8 months later to Millennial Media. Hellmut was born in Colombia, lived in Germany and now resides in the U.S., and attributes his holistic approach to problem-solving to his experience seeing different people interact with technology and communicate. With Intellei, Hellmut is stepping into the world of conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI), with his partner Nithi Vivatrat. Intellei utilizes AI virtual assistants in messenger apps and networks, to engage with clients and potential clients.

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Kristina Aran

Founder & CEO - Virtzy

Virtzy, is a beauty and wellness platform, designed to disrupt the beauty industry. The Virtzy platform creates space for a diversity of clients and professionals, genuinely allowing talent to function. Virtzy helps beauty and wellness professionals create a beautiful digital resume and portfolio to market their services and grow their businesses. Kristina Aran, COO and Co-Founder, believes that for companies to be a leader in the market, you have to hire diverse talent and have your employees flourish in the inclusive environment as a place where they can utilize their skills and build a solid career. "An organization's reputation and culture will be the crucial factor in recruiting the best talent, so you want to stand behind the idea that everyone is welcome."

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Ndaba Ndebele

Software Engineer - Polis 

Growing up in Zimbabwe during the worst economic crisis in its history, taught Ndaba Ndebele that you can't wait for someone to change the world for you, you have to get up and do it yourself. Ndaba believes entrepreneurship is the key to driving change but a company with a great idea and great tech is not enough. To drive change, you need a business with a vision, and the Polis' founder and CEO's goal of holding a conversation with 300 million Americans is what drew Ndaba to the company. For Ndaba, conversations spark exchanges of ideas drawn from different experiences, a valuable process for developing solutions and planning a long-term success.

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Mesut Celebi

Cofounder - Startupbootcamp & Innoleaps US

Mesut Celebi is the Cofounder & CEO (USA) of 3 successful international startups, Startupbootcamp, Innoleaps, and The Talent Institute. Mesut, the grew up in the Netherlands, the son of Turkish Kurdish immigrants, before immigrating to New York City, on his own, in 2009. Mesut became an entrepreneur when he identified ways to improve business at the company where he worked, but when executives had different priorities, he quit and founded his first company. Mesut's ability to connect with people from different countries and backgrounds helped him accelerate his businesses and scale globally. Currently through the Startupbootcamp, 600+ startups have graduated on 5 continents in 21 different industries.

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Mehmet Umet Ermeç

Founder & CEO - Smart Professions

Coming from a different culture and education system helped Mehmet Umut Ermec develop personalized learning experiences for freelancers, to meet employer demands. Frustrated with one size fits all solutions, Mehmet began to look at unique solutions to help his clients and their potential employers build success. Drawing from his Turkish roots, and integrating lessons learned by working around the world and meeting different types of people, Mehmet created Smart Professions. For Mehmet, growing up in Turkey provided him with a different lens to see the world, and he utilized that difference to grow a successful business.

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