I’d like to think that it’s not by simple coincidence that the last post on my blog, which is nearly a year old, is about a young boy who’s fascinated me, brought me to tears, and most importantly fueled my personal motivation about improving how people innovate.
This young boy is Kelvin Doe and he’s from Sierra Leone. My serendipitous relationship with Sierra Leone started nearly a decade ago when I was introduced to their civil war through the hidden lenses of an undercover journalist.
In one of the scenes, a late teen is stopped by a group of men dressed in military uniforms and asked if he’d been part of the street kids shooting at them. The boy answers in Krio (a local language – pidgin english) that he wasn’t shooting anyone. If my memory serves me well, the men proceed to ask him what he was doing outside and he answers that he is out looking for some food. After a few more back and forth between them, they tell him to walk away and as he turns around to leave, one of the men pulls his machine gun and shoots him in the back. I can play that scene over and over in my head until I’m 90 years old and it’ll still feel like it was yesterday. I was scarred for life.
I was so moved by that image that I began writing a fictional novel about a young boy from Liberia who travels to Sierra Leone looking for his father only to get dragged into the war as a Child Soldier.
My relationship with Sierra Leone didn’t end there. A few years later I was approached by a producer to do a voiceover for the documentary Blood Diamonds by the History Channel. Diamonds from Sierra Leone have been called “Blood Diamonds” because their sale had been used to partly finance the decade long war that consumed the country. I accepted, of course.
Then earlier this year, I stumbled upon Kelvin’s story. I was moved to tears, not tears of sorrow but tears of hope. I’d been investing sweat, blood, money, and sleepless nights on Miigle for 2 years and while watching the video about Kelvin, I knew I’d found my purpose in life.
It was all worth it.
Yesterday, I got to borrow Kelvin’s story and shared it as part of my pitch for the NewMe Accelerator program LA Popup during Google for Entrepreneurs Week. Along with me was Josh Fester, my co-founding partner and CTO of Miigle. It was our first time ever introducing Miigle to an audience. We’d been working tirelessly for this moment and it was the opportunity we’d been looking for. I was a bit nervous but I knew I had to focus on the bigger picture – this wasn’t about me – this was about Kelvin and the millions of brilliant entrepreneurs here in the US and around the world who have the ideas and the will but are falling short in resources (intellectual, practical, financial, and even emotional) and are struggling to find the right people to help them pull through. THAT’S the core problem Miigle fixes.
After the pitch, the feedback from people in the audience and other entrepreneurs pitching was heartwarming. It made the past two years some of the best in my life.
I look forward to the next 60, hopefully. I can tell you one thing for sure, I’m ready.
A HUGE thanks to my friend Miyishia Slay for informing about the NewMe event as well as a LOUD SHOUT to William Ruiz, Miigle’s Director of Business and Legal Affairs who couldn’t be there with us!
Below is my 2 minutes pitch in its entirety.
Miigle Pitch – NewMe LA Popup
Meet Kelvin, he’s from Sierra Leone, a country ravaged by war for 10 years. At the age of 13, Kelvin wanted to become a radio DJ to give a voice to his community, but he couldn’t afford a radio. So he built one from trashed electronics he found on the streets.
Kelvin’s story touched the heart of a visiting MIT student who later became his mentor.
Hi I’m Luc Berlin. I’m a cofounder of Miigle and our mission is to simplify how people innovate.
Building a startup is exciting but the process sucks for most entrepreneurs because it’s difficult for them to connect with the right people for help.
And the solution to that is Miigle – a web platform that automates the connection between startups, entrepreneurs and people interested to help.
All it takes is 5 mins to create and post your project then Miigle automatically introduces it to people most likely to contribute whatever resources you need. We also provide a marketplace and analytics to measure your impact.
Our initial revenue streams are a subscription model at $20/year and advertising.
Miigle matters because there’re over 400 million entrepreneurs in the world and according to Gartner the social innovation industry will be worth $7 billion in 2 years.
Unlike AngelList and Kickstarter, Miigle allows you to proactively crowdsource different resources and market your products on the same platform.
Miigle will generate $67M in our first 3 years and will be profitable in each one.
Our team consists of a MBA Grad, a Computer Nerd and a Juris Doctor – for a combined 25 years of experience.
We’re very excited to be launching our MVP this month and are seeking $100K to invest in our technology and introductions to potential advisors.
So help us, give a fighting chance to entrepreneurs around the world, from people in this room to children like Kelvin.