PEOPLE OFTEN DESCRIBE ME AS: intense and committed. SOMETHING I CANNOT DO WITHOUT: Tequila. SOMETHING PEOPLE DON'T USUALLY KNOW ABOUT ME: I have 6 kids.
Changing the way small business can grow and scale
FOSTERING AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE EVERYONE WINS. As a self-described “serial entrepreneur,” it’s no surprise that these days Melissa Bradley is the Co-Founder of Ureeka, a platform designed explicitly for entrepreneurs and small business owners of color and who may be LGBTQ to utilize their programming and investment to scale and grow.
One of three co-founders, along with Rob Gatto and Dave Jakubowski, Melissa has taken everything she’s done, known, needed, and experienced and baked it into the design of Ureeka. “I’ve built companies, consulted with companies, worked in venture capital, started a venture capital firm even. All the while thinking critically about the often untapped investment of women, entrepreneurs of color. I kept asking myself, how can I help reduce the friction for anyone, particularly folks who look like me, to be able to advance and grow a business in this country?”
“I don’t know that everyone can, will see it, but I come from a place of privilege. Yes, I’m a gay Black woman who dresses like a man, but when I’m the boardroom or behind the desk, I’m in charge. I’m pretty transparent about who I am and how I feel about myself.”
DIGGING DEEP INTO DIVERSITY METRICS. There is a depth to the design of how Ureeka both sees and measures against its own goals for diversity and inclusion. “I’ve co-founded this company with two White men, but they’ve completely trusted me. And I think the data speaks to that when we talk about the diversity of our companies and demographics. We don’t treat our work as niche, we see it as central, a core part of the business.”
“And we track our impact. Not just how much money we made this quarter, or how many people we helped, but actually how many jobs we’ve created, how much revenue the individual businesses have made, what the diversity matrix looks like inside and outside of our company and the companies and individuals we support. This information is privy to our investor and board members as a key part of their experience because it’s central to ours.”
As Melissa sees it, this normalization of the data, this emphasis on the diversity of metrics about diversity, isn’t just to make a point, it’s to actually create a safe space. “When we have this rich of metrics and data, we can see our own gaps. We can see where we’re struggling to reach certain communities. So we add new languages, or we create new community groups and outreach and incubator programs. Our business model and our impact needs to be aligned with our commitment to support diversity on the platform at all levels. So even that assurity is designed within the platform. We never rest on our laurels around here.”
As a married lesbian woman and a mother of six, Melissa wants to see a better future for her family. “Being an entrepreneur means you have to be emotionally, spiritually, and financially, invested. You’re taking a huge risk. And when you have a family, they are too. So you need to have pride and confidence in your work for you, your family, your company. I do. And I want to make sure others do too.”