November 25th, 2020
Aaron Walker is on a journey to live in the spirit of his baseball hero, Jackie Robinson, who said “a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” With this ethos, Aaron taught ninth grade English in West Philadelphia, put together deals for companies large and small as a lawyer, and supported new ideas to improve education as a portfolio director for the NYC Fund for Public Schools. Aaron is humbled to say that he graduated from the University of Virginia and Penn Law School. He also knows that this doesn’t entitle him to anything and is ready to earn his keep.
Genius is equally distributed. Opportunity is not. Camelback is here to change that. Camelback Ventures is a six-month rigorous accelerator for untapped entrepreneurs.
Camelback identifies local leaders with promising ideas, and assists them to enact change within their communities through our initiatives where we provide an intentional blend of coaching, capital, connections, community, and curriculum. Over 90% of our founders identify as people of color and 60% as women.
This grant will be used to invest in our 2020 Fellows cohort, which is working with 13 founders from across the country.
There wasn’t really an “a-ha” moment for me. It was more an amalgamation of a lifetime of moments. It was the accumulation of moments for me, of being the “only-lonely”, whether as a teacher, where only 2% of black males are represented, or whether in law school, where there were six black students. Camelback is designed to erase this phenomenon in the venture capital space and explicitly elevate the genius of entrepreneurs of color in social impact. Too often, the entrepreneurial space around social impact generates “solutions” pointed at communities of color without solving for the lack of opportunities in those same communities for them to lead, innovate, and build.
Julio Rivera believes in blazing a trail to help others heal, and that makes Camelback Ventures proud of his most recent venture. The 2020 Camelback Fellow created the Liberate app for black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) to connect in a safe and calming meditation community. Julio built the app to provide calming guidance which is better explained in his own words: “what’s healing for most people of color is an affirmation or validation for their experiences."
The idea for the Liberate app was sparked from his own personal experience seeking mental health support. The app, which launched in May of 2020, serves as a place where people of color can connect through guided meditation delivered by professional coaches. What stood out to CBV while mentoring Julio over the last six months is his desire to ensure that the app validates the unique and often painful experiences his consumers face, such as trauma and microaggressions while offering tangible steps towards personal healing. Often this includes specialized meditations recognizing self-doubt and cultivating loving kindness. The app is already making an impact.
A month after Liberate launched, 5,000 subscribers have downloaded the app, and in true entrepreneurial spirit, Julio is looking to the future. He is working diligently to partner with large corporations to have them make the investment in the app on behalf of their BIPOC employees who would undoubtedly benefit from a healing space specifically catered to their needs and personal experiences.
As the Founder of CBV, success stories like Julio’s are what keep me motivated to continue our critical work now more than ever. The entire team at CBV is proud of Julio’s accomplishments and we will continue to support him and all of our Fellows — past, current, and future — as they embark on their entrepreneurial journeys. I hope you’ll join us in empowering their success.
Donate now to support the Techstars Foundation, which empowers underrepresented entrepreneurs.