Ime & More

Chatting with Ime Essien from HBCUvc and as always, bringing you some valuable opportunities and resources from our community!

Welcome to the second edition of the Envision Newsletter! This week, I got to chat with one of the dopest people I have met, Ime Essien from HBCUvc! Honestly, Ime is someone I can always count on to show support for myself and the greater community of early-stage entrepreneurs and investors. Definitely someone you need to connect with, he’ll always go up to bat for you! Glad I could catch up with him for a bit and dive into some of the great things he’s working on.

🗞 Story of the Week

What's the story behind Ime? How did you find yourself interested in VC and startups?

Thanks for asking! I'm a really chill guy! I’m from Baltimore and I’m really close with my family. I study electrical engineering at Morgan State University, the largest HBCU in Maryland. I’ve always been a huge nerd, like I actively followed the Star Wars Expanded Universe before it was made non-canon by Disney. I can tell you Thrawn’s whole entire backstory and betrayal of the original Ben Solo, Darth Caedus. This all started when I was a child, I went to JHU APL for summer camp and I was able to hang out with rocket scientists. Even in high school, I was on the robotics team all four years. I just love building things! That’s why I love working with startups, you’re creating something that hasn’t existed before. VC feels like the perfect role for me because I’m a huge extrovert so it combines my love for people and technology. Founders are so inspiring, why wouldn’t you want to be around them?

I really love the work you’re doing with bringing diversity to the industry, what are some big lessons you learned while trying to break industry norms?

Know your worth! Super important to understand what value you can bring to any team. This involves being really good at selling yourself and understanding something that could possibly be regular for you is special for others. I also always try to reach out when I have questions and be ready to make the first move. Becoming good at sending a cold email is essential here. Finally, helping others and giving back is essential.

Who are some of the coolest founders you've met during your time at RareBreed & HBCUVC? What are they building? 

I love our portfolio at HBCUvc. What’s so cool is that we invest in both current students and alumni of HBUCUs. We have such a great mixture, the connections created across the portfolio are priceless. There’s mentorship for the student founders and even talent pipelines for entrepreneurs farther along. One of our most recent companies is AgriWater led by Bianca Bailey, who’s currently getting her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from the University of Illinois. She’s a genius! Her company is focused on building smart clean water devices. This is a huge problem for the black community with cities such as Flint, Michigan, and Jackson, Mississippi being affected.

What kind of impact do you want to make in the next 3-5 years? What are you looking forward to in the short term and how does it fit into your long-term goals?

I want to continue working with great founders. I’m really grateful to have opportunities to work in VC which is typically a hard industry to break into. Having the privilege to spend time with entrepreneurs who are pursuing their passions is amazing.  In the short term, I want to scale my impact on people through writing. Coming from a technical background I didn’t really have to write papers in college. Becoming a better communicator is very important to me. I’ve already started doing that through our HBCUvc podcast, Divergent Unicorns

Anything you’d like to shoutout? Wins, mentors, people you’re rooting for?

First of all, shoutout to Envision for allowing my former team, urConvey to participate in the first cohort. I would tell any student founder to participate, it was amazing!
Shoutout to Mac, he’s a great guy and an amazing resource to so many entrepreneurs.
Shoutout to Intel Capital for giving me my start in the industry, I’ll always be eternally grateful for that. It’s hard breaking into tech and even harder to break into VC as an undergrad.
Finally shoutout to HBCUvc, the best community on the internet. Without them, I wouldn’t feel supported and go after so many different opportunities I had and expand my horizons. Love them!

📣 What’s Happening at Envision?

  • Cohort 3 is well underway with some exciting companies! If you are an investor interested in getting matched with portfolio companies that align with your stage, thesis, or industry, fill out this interest form and we'll get back to you!

  • Envision + OnDeck Catalyst - Launching your Startup from Scratch On April 7th @ 4PM PST! We’ll debunk some harmful myths that you may believe about startups and help you take those small first steps to bring your solution to life. You’ll also hear from members of both programs to understand both opportunities better and apply to join them. RSVP here!

🎯 Resources and Opportunities

Job openings from our community!

📚 What We’re Reading