“Two generations ago if you were black in America, the best job you could have was post officer or schoolteacher,” Brian says.“So there’s really no generational wealth to rely on.” That means black entrepreneurs rely heavily on investors even for the earliest rounds of funding, which can be challenging given that most tech investors are white men.But the idea is to create an app for black people to safely meet people of all races who want to form a genuine connection.“It’s shocking that there’s a dating app for people who like bacon, there’s one for burrito lovers, for Jewish folks, for Asians, there’s Hinge and Bumble, but nobody wanted to solve this problem,” Brian says. People don’t think about solving problems that don’t affect them, and investors don’t invest in ideas that don’t affect them.” Indeed, funding is one of the biggest obstacles facing many entrepreneurs of color.There, they both pursued fencing — Brian was ranked one of the top foil fencers in the state — and they frequently faced off against each another in tournaments, even though Justin is two years older.The brothers say their contrasting personalities have strengthened them as a team.
The difficulty facing black entrepreneurs is obvious in the name of the product itself.
Justin Gerrard speaks quickly, Brian Gerrard speaks slowly.
Justin jumps around the room, Brian glides with caution.
Brian says friends have shown him screenshots of “being called a n-gger on Tinder. In San Francisco.” Phoebe Boswell, a Kenyan artist living in London, recently created an entire gallery show about the racist insults she has received on Tinder.
Ten years ago, the Gerrard brothers weren’t thinking about starting a company together. Their parents, both lawyers, sent the boys to separate private schools in suburban New Jersey.