Joey Womack’s Superpower Helps Solve Problems In Black Startup Communities With Amplify 4 Good And Goodie Nation
Joey Womack says his life’s purpose is to equalize socio-economic disparities and he has a superpower that will help him achieve that.
The founder and CEO of Amplify 4 Good and Goodie Nation, Womack graduated from Florida A&M University and found his way to Atlanta, There, he used his talent to gather urban professionals for social events. Now he gathers them to solve some of the world’s toughest problems.
A serial entrepreneur, Womack is also the co-founder and co-lead for the Atlanta Black Tech Initiative, a coalition of individuals, organizations and companies working to define and organize the Black Tech community in Atlanta.
Over the last several years, Womack has managed to work with companies such as Hartsfield Jackson Airport, Care USA, Google, Coca-Cola, and others under his two organizations, the for-profit Amplify 4 Good and the nonprofit Goodie Nation.
Womack told Moguldom he has managed to use his superpower — “being able to get people together” — to create events that are helping to find Black talent and address socio-economic disparities worldwide.
Amplify 4 Good helps companies do hackathons, design innovation programs to solve real-world problems and help them find Black talent. Goodie Nation helps founders find a space to organize, grow and launch their business. Some of the founders who have participated in his programs include Jasmine Crowe of Goodr, an Atlanta-based startup helping to eliminate food waste, and India Hayes, of Mini City, a tech solution to provide identification for the homeless.
Since launching his do-good organizations, Womack has teamed up with the Walton Family Foundation, Kapor Center, Village Capital, Collabs and techPLUG to help Black tech founders and K-12 tech programs.
He’s raised around $400,000. “I believe if you put in the work, the impact and the money will follow,” he said.
Womack recently announced a new home for his Goodie Nation initiative — The Intentionally Good Project — in downtown Atlanta’s WeWork Labs. The official launch of the new space is scheduled for Jan. 27-31, 2020.
Womack spoke to Moguldom about having a revenue-over-investment mindset, Atlanta as the “Silicon Valley of the South”, and his 1-billion-people-impacted goal.
Moguldom: Why did you start Amplify 4 Good?
Joey Womack: I started to think about a better way to solve problems in underserved communities. I have two beliefs, one, that we have everything that we need to create the change we want to see, and two, everybody has a role to play in creating that change. In 2014, I got into The Hive Global Leader Program in San Francisco for social entrepreneurs.
I feel my life’s purpose is to equalize socio-economic disparities worldwide. It is my goal to help 1 billion people by the year 2039. I came up with this idea to use hackathons to help nonprofits. It started off as a one-time thing and then we did another one three months later. The events went well and people wanted to give us money to keep them going.
So I created Amplify 4 Good. Companies hire us to do hackathons, design thinking sessions, and also innovation programs to solve real-world problems and help them find diverse talent. Companies like Care USA, Google, Coca Cola, Hartsfield Jackson Airport, and others became our clients. Amplify 4 Good was created from the demand and results we created around hackathons and has expanded into helping startups that are either diverse-led or socio-impact focused.
Goodie Nation is the nonprofit organization I founded to create and support the civic engagement work we do to help solve some of the world’s toughest problems. We have a number of programs working with K-12 and college students and others to help provide exposure to innovation around social impact. However, with Amplify 4 Good, companies hire us to complete special projects. Our superpower is our design thinking services and workshops and the ability to tap our network to help clients find talent to get their projects done.
Moguldom: This isn’t your first startup. You founded Digital Guestlist. How did being a founder of that company first help you succeed with Amplify 4 Good and Goodie Nation?
Joey Womack: Digital Guestlist was my first tech startup. I was in college at Florida A&M University. The company was focused on parties and getting people to them. I grew it to around one of the top three in the country in terms of the types of customers, such as Essence Festival, Super Bowl Weekend, All-Star Weekend, in the number of cities and in subscriber list size. I was able to be self-funded with my income from the parties. That’s my other superpower, being able to get people together. Being able to use that superpower to gather professionals and talent for hackathons and social impact projects has been helpful in being able to obtain the corporate customers and sponsorship needed for Amplify 4 Good and Goodie Nation.
Moguldom: You want to help 1 billion people. How are you positioned to do so through your organizations?
Joey Womack: In shifting toward social impact and working with tech startups, we were able to find not only people to fund the hackathons but also highly skilled people to participate in them for nonprofits and profit companies. From these events, social good companies have launched.
Goodr, an Atlanta-based startup for reducing food waste, founded by Jasmine Crowe, came through one of the programs by Goodie Nation and India Hayes of Mini City. There are other groups inside of profit companies creating projects to help others as well we assisted. We had a few companies really take off.
Our partnership with Kapor Center and Village Capital allows us to help 10-to-12 startups each quarter, or cohort. So, the 1 billion people impacted by what founders of companies are doing or tech talent we work with, I look at it as the impact towards my 1-billion number. With someone like Jasmine doing great things to help others, I count her impact as a part of my number as well. There are some people that already had some things going on before coming to us, but whatever I was able to help them with to improve or grow, I count that as well toward my number.
It’s not so much about getting to the number. Honestly, it’s less about the number than it is about helping someone to come up with something that seems ridiculous and forcing them to get out of their comfort zone to come up with creative ways to make it happen. Once you focus on how to dominate, you look up, and you realize what you have accomplished, and you can start focusing on the next step.
Moguldom: In 2019, the Kapor Center awarded $1 million to fund underrepresented tech founders. Goodie Nation social impact pre-accelerator program was one of the 10 recipients to receive $100,000. Have other organizations supported your nonprofit?
Joey Womack: The Kapor grant helped us launch the Intentionally Good Project through Goodie Nation which is aimed to focus on Black tech startups. We were the only organization in the Southeast to obtain the grant. Collab with Jewel Burks Solomon and techPLUG with Kornelius Bankston are great partners for the initiative.
With the help of the Walton Family Foundation, we will be helping organizations, nonprofits and projects focused on preparing K-12 students for the future of tech. We received help from Village Capital and other organizations as well.
Overall $400,000 has been provided over the years to help further the mission. A lot of the money was over the last year-and-a-half. For the first years, I was self-funding and working with the help of over a 100 full-time and part-time volunteers. A lot of the people have put in work into the vision, innovation and authenticity of the work we do. I believe if you put in the work, the impact and the money will follow.
Moguldom: You mentioned wanting to focus on Black-led startups. Is this something that you feel like you were always passionate about or do you think this was something that was a product of being a graduate from an HBCU?
Joey Womack: As a Black person there’s an infinity there, a natural connection. While working to grow Digital Guestlist, I felt a strong urge to help Black founders get connected to the right resources. I co-founded and still co-lead the Atlanta Black Tech Initiative. My focus is primarily on startups and K-12. My desire to help my people to get connected to the right resources will always be there, mainly because being connected to the right resources is one of the biggest outcries from Black tech founders. It’s often not financial resources first, it is having the right connections, then the finances.
Moguldom: How do you see that playing out as Black people get more connected through technology?
Joey Womack: There is this movement going on right now to focus on companies that may not be worth a billion-plus dollars but can be worth $50 million. In tech, traditionally investors are only looking at you if you can become a billion-dollar business. So, we need to start talking about resources to become an eight- or nine-figure business. That means you have to be focused on revenue.
In tech, there’s a lot of pressure on bringing in investment dollars. For Blacks, only 1-to-2 percent of those investment dollars are coming to us. Our most talented folks are being sent to a slaughterhouse because they’re only focused on fundraising and that’s just crazy. Let’s just focus on creating companies that, from day one, are dead-set on bringing in money through revenue and then using that revenue as a way to obtain resources. If we do that, you’ll start seeing more Black tech dollars with a business model that revolves around recurring subscriptions and things of that nature.
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This will mean the products they are working on, the problems they’re trying to solve will change up a little bit. But I think it is the right move. Even if somebody doesn’t get to $50 million in value, but you get to bring in a million dollars a year in revenue and keep your expenses low, that is a solid business.
Moguldom: Do you think that Atlanta is the Silicon Valley for the South?
Joey Womack: A lot of people would kind of scoff at that description. Some would say Silicon Valley has a chance to be the Atlanta of the west. Others say Atlanta has the opportunity to just to create its own label. But to answer your question, yes, absolutely.
Moguldom: Do you plan to expand outside of Atlanta?
Joey Womack: From a long-term perspective, we have the opportunity to expand worldwide. We begin our partnership with WeWork and their Labs startup program this month. WeWork has startup labs across the world. We will essentially start to work out of the lab here in Atlanta with around 70 startups, all in one space where I have daily access to them.
The startups here in Atlanta get access to not only the other 5,000 startups in the network but also the 2,000 mentors. In addition to that, there are 80 other people that run the startup labs. There are four of them in New York. So, if a startup in the program here wants to travel to New York for business reasons, all I have to do is reach out to that person over one of those locations in New York, and they set them up with a desk for as long as they’re there. They also help to make introductions on their behalf when they visit. Now if the startup wants to get connected to a large corporation in New York, the person running the New York lab will activate their network and help set up meetings. It’s an amazing opportunity for Atlanta’s Black tech founders. Further expansion for us could easily happen with these other labs across the world.