Three projects with Tallahassee ties awarded grants through Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition

Submitted by Alaijah Brown, Tallahassee Democrat

Starting at Florida A&M University with little knowledge of how to meet people or find social activities was intimidating for Miramar native Zachary Gilchrist. As a result, he often found himself with a bad case of ‘FOMO,’ or the fear of missing out.

Inspired by his own college experience and wanting to keep students in the know about social events, Gilchrist resorted to his skills in technology to create The Move app, which helps students find out what parties are going on around them and it includes social features like chats to keep students interactive. It is available in Apple and Google Play stores.

“For The Move, I see it as the next big social media platform,” Gilchrist told the Tallahassee Democrat. “I think of it as the world’s first real social media app.”

With 3,000 downloads in Tallahassee and about 70 featured events since its launch more than a year and a half ago, Gilchrist’s ambitious vision has a few more downloads to go – but it’s getting noticed in a big way.

Earlier this month, Gilchrist was awarded $200,000 for creating The Move app, which was the top finalist for the HBCU prize from Black Ambition.

Black Ambition supports Black and Latino and Latina entrepreneurs with a series of prizes to underwrite strong ideas. It was founded by music artist and philanthropist Pharrell Williams, whose No. 1 hit ‘Happy’ made him a household name. Black Ambition’s pitch competition is critical for applicants who undergo three months of inspection and interviews with partnered entrepreneurs and senior business leaders.

“We received applications from more than 2,000 Black and Latinx entrepreneurs across the country, and we funded 31 of the top applicants. “Jermeen Sherman, managing director of programs and operations for Black Ambition, told the Democrat.

Interesting enough, of the 31 funded applicants, three have ties to Tallahassee – via Florida A&M and Florida State universities.

“They vetted out businesses based on how much projected revenue they can make and basically the effectiveness of it,” Gilchrist said of the pitch competition’s judging held Nov. 1-3 in Norfolk, Virginia.

“The whole process was really educational,” said Gilchrist, a senior computer science student. “They really coached us on how to be a good CEO and how to run your business.”

Gilchrist was advised on ways to make money from ad placements on The Move app. Now, promoters can pay to advertise events in priority placement at the top of the events page on the app.

Attendees networked with executives from notable companies like Goldman Sachs and Chegg and were paired with a business leader for coaching and mentorship. Gilchrist was mentored by TEDx speaker John Guydon.

“Even though the $200,000 was just the prize money we also made a lot of other connections that could end up being more money in the future,” the budding entrepreneur said.

According to Gilchrist, The Move app was funded by an initial investment of $20,000 from his close friend back in June.  With the prize money, Gilchrist plans to add new features like detailed safety alerts for venues that have reached maximum capacity and alerts for dangers. For instance, an alert could be issued for gun violence or fighting in progress.

About Carma Henry 21599 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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