XIS Global is hoping to give marginalized entrepreneurs a leg up.
Startups with marginalized founders can learn ways to more effectively communicate outside of their organization, be exposed to capital resources and guided through the infrastructure building process with XIS Global.
For XIS Global founder Patricia Edwards, mentorship is essential not only to her company but those she works with as well.
BLNDED Media: Let’s talk about your company, what you do, and why you chose to do that.
Patricia Edwards: Our company, XIS Global is a media and technology collective and we service startup and small business founders that have come from marginalized backgrounds. So we do investor and media relations, business development and programming. Programming can range from a virtual workshop to a partnership with other major companies, so it’s just kind of facilitating an ecosystem of resources and development tools for innovation leaders.
The pillars of my organization are that the two biggest divides for people are access to information and opportunity for collaboration. You know, a lot of people once they have navigated a certain lane or field, they feel comfortable in it. But that often comes from someone giving them guidance– having a mentor, having stakeholders in their corner that can advise them on how to navigate. Unfortunately, disenfranchised constituents don’t have that a majority of the time, so that’s why we do what we do.
BLNDED: Has being located in Washington, D.C., where there’s a lot of power brokering, worked to your advantage at all?
Patricia: I think that you take advantage of wherever you are. Mayor Muriel Bowser has an inclusive innovation initiative. We’ve worked with different organizations from D.C. Startup Week facilitating the public relations engagement for the 75,000+ ecosystem and making sure that marginalized businesses and founders are included to just navigating the spectrum.
I’m from Los Angeles and prior I worked in journalism and entertainment public relations, but I came to D.C. in 2012 to work for Obama’s re-election campaign and so that enabled me to garner a new network of individuals that are focused on deploying policy and engaging communities to make sure they’re not left behind. So in that retrospect, I would say yes.
BLNDED: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Patricia: People typically take offense when you say that you focus on people from marginalized backgrounds. They’re like, ‘well why are you leaving people out, because there are so many individuals that need this type of engagement and support?” Honestly, I am a black woman from North Carolina. That’s why I am doing what I am doing.
I know the divide. Black women have contributed $65 billion to the GDP and are unable to acquire 1 percent of venture capital. Ninety-two percent of CEO and board positions are held by white men. So there’s a huge divide between access to information and opportunities for collaboration for people of color.
It’s an uncomfortable conversation, it is a reality check for many organizations. With all of the individuals and companies that say that they’re focused on increasing opportunity flow, blacks in tech have only increased 1 percent in the last like 10 to 15 years. That’s a problem. It’s a problem when you have 46 million African Americans in this country with a $1.3 trillion buying power. You know, we’re all billed as high consumers of products and services, and we’re not represented in those organizations from the top down.
You have the H&M model where they’re putting pictures of little black boys as the monkey and the little white boy as the survival expert. There’s obviously a need for more individuals to be in board positions. To get funding for companies that have that cultural diversity that won’t have that inherent bias. We’ll be able to provide a more wholesome and well-rounded environment for all stakeholders involved. So that’s an obstacle, but it’s also an opportunity for us because I am never going to back down, we’re here to stay.
Honestly, I am a black woman from North Carolina. That’s why I am doing what I am doing.
BLNDED: What do the next six months, a year look like for you guys?
Patricia: We have recently done our due diligence on a merger and acquisition with a larger entity so we are building a strategic management consulting firm. It will be focused on government contracting as well as continuing in the areas that we’re already working on.
The government contracting expansion will just be for individuals learning how to obtain certification, how to structure their company in order to fit into the RFIs and RFBs which are the request for information and request for bids which usually come from the government.
And then we have the Super Bowl coming up in Atlanta. We’re actually a Georgia-based LLC, so we will just be engaging in that ecosystem and making sure that small businesses, entrepreneurs and investors are coming together when there is a high delegation of people of color in one area. We’re just focused on continuing to do that. We’re always open to partnerships and individuals who are looking to navigate these lands or expand opportunities.
BLNDED: To focus on you as an entreprenuer, you guys have done so much in the past year. How do you keep up?
Patricia: I have been a part of so many large projects in my life. At 23 I launched a prime-time TV show on NBC 4 in LA. At 28 I launched an $8 million venue for Rolling Stone, it was the first brick and mortar for the multi-million-dollar brand. When I moved to D.C., before we launched XIS, I was the director of strategic partnerships for Groundwork, which is a $10 million venture fund and accelerator that is also engaged with marginalized founders and startups.
I guess I say that to say, this is something I have just been doing for so long that I don’t know any other way. The way that I balance–I believe in homeopathic remedies, I believe in meditation and yoga. I am a pescatarian, I don’t eat meat. I really operate off of four or five hours of sleep a day and I feel fully functional.
And I love what I do. I am excited when people come and ask questions. It’s exciting when people are hungry for information and they want to collaborate. I believe that whenever you’re blessed to have an abundance–like myself, I am blessed to have an abundance, like a portfolio of information and a certain array of skillsets that people can benefit from– I believe in giving it nonstop. From there you’ll develop the lane for your business, the lane for building your tribe and engaging with the right individuals that will support you so you work smarter and not harder.