Get to Know Your Urban Tech Connect Hosts Bonin Bough and Lauren Maillian

The Urban Tech Connect // Forward virtual conference is coming up in just a few weeks. Our team is excited to introduce our hosts, Bonin Bough and Lauren Maillian. Let’s get to know them:

Bonin Bough
One of the world’s foremost-awarded marketing executives, Bonin Bough is the host of LeBron James’ and Maverick Carter’s CNBC show “Cleveland Hustles,” and author of the book “Txt Me: Your Phone Has Changed Your Life. Let’s Talk about It.”

He’s worked for billion-dollar CPG brands such as Mondelez and PepsiCo, and grew beloved brands including Oreo, Cadbury’s, Pepsi, Gatorade, Sour Patch Kids, and Frito-Lay. As the chief growth officer of the personal care company SheaMoisture, Bough helped grow the business by close to 50% in 12 months, leading to the company being acquired by Unilever for nearly $1 billion dollars.

Fast Company named Bough to their “100 Most Creative People in Business” in 2011, and he’s been featured on Fortune’s “40 under 40,” Ebony’s Power 100, and the Internationalist’s “Internationalists of the Year” lists. The American Advertising Federation inducted him into the Advertising Hall of Achievement.

Bough is the founder and chief growth officer of Bonin Ventures, which connects the best startups with the world’s biggest brands to accelerate their growth. This year he joined the entertainment platform Triller as their chief growth officer.

Lauren Maillian
Lauren Maillian is a consumer brand strategist, award-winning marketer, chief operating officer, and technology startup investor and advisor. In June, the board of social startup Digital Undivided unanimously tapped Maillian to lead their organization as interim CEO.

Maillian got her entrepreneurial start at age 19, when she cofounded the boutique winery Sugarleaf Vineyards. She went on to graduate magna cum laude from FIT, join Walmart’s Board of Disruptors innovation council, and become the first Black woman to start an early-stage venture capital fund as a founding partner and managing director at Gen Y Capital Partners. She has advised and invested in more than 40 startups, which have generated more than $200 million in revenue.

Maillian is an advisor to the social enterprise Pipeline Angels, she founded the professional development company Straight Up and Successful, and is the founder and creator of the Collab, an arts and culture club that champions artists of color. She is also the founder and CEO of the strategic marketing and brand advisory company LMB Group.

She wrote the best-selling memoir “The Path Redefined: Getting To the Top On Your Own Terms,” and brought her passion for innovation to the docu-series “Quit Your Day Job” on Oxygen. Accolades include a 2011 Kauffman Foundation Empact 100 “Top 100 Entrepreneurs Under 30” Award, being named a “shot caller” to watch in business by Essence, a Smart CEO Brava Award, and a spot on Walker’s Legacy’s WL50Power List.

Lauren and Bonin will tag-team hosting Urban Tech Connect September 15 – 17, 2020. Our three-day virtual conference features keynotes, fireside chats, talks, workshops, one-on-one interviews, and office hours for personalized professional development.

Don’t forget to register for the conference, if you haven’t already. We’ll see you soon!

Startups The PISLA Beat

The Plug In South LA Beat: $50 Million Fund Launches for Underrepresented Founders

Black entrepreneurial duo Candice Matthews Brackeen and Brian Brackeen want to prove that capitalism is for everyone. This summer their venture capital firm Lightship Capital, along with the agency SecondMuse, created a $50 million fund — the first of its kind.

The fund focuses on underrepresented founders in the Midwest, which includes racial minorities as well as LGBTQ and disabled communities, Nick Fouriezos reported in OZY. He added that the fund plans to initially invest in around 35 businesses across AI, e-commerce, sustainability, healthcare, and consumer packaged goods. Comedian Hannibal Buress signed on as an early investor.

This is not a social impact fund, Candice Matthews Brackeen clarified to OZY. “We’re capitalists at heart. We’re here to respect the money and get a market rate return,” she said. “When people see our teams win, then you’ll see a model that works.”

For our ongoing curation of the innovation and tech news our team is reading, the Plug In South LA Beat, we can see why this pioneering fund attracts so much attention:

A Power Couple with a $50M Venture Fund for the Overlooked