Milwaukee-based money transfer platform selected for Northwestern Mutual’s Black founder accelerator

Left to right: Abim Kolawole (Northwestern Mutual), Kevin Barrow (Mark Labs), Bobola Odebiyi (CrossKudi), Ablorde Ashigbi (4Degrees), Fonta gilliam (Wellthi), Nneka Ukpai (Wellthi), Craig Schedler (Northwestern Mutual
Left to right: Abim Kolawole (Northwestern Mutual), Kevin Barrow (Mark Labs), Bobola Odebiyi (CrossKudi), Ablorde Ashigbi (4Degrees), Fonta gilliam (Wellthi), Nneka Ukpai (Wellthi), Craig Schedler (Northwestern Mutual).

Milwaukee-based CrossKudi is one of five startups to be selected for the second cohort of Northwestern Mutual’s Black Founder Accelerator program.

Northwestern Mutual on Tuesday unveiled the second class of Black-led startups that will receive funding and mentorship through the 12-week program. The accelerator is a partnership of the Milwaukee-based life insurance company and program administrator gener8tor.

The inaugural NMBFA class – which included Milwaukee-based Tip a ScRxipt – completed the program in June.

Cohort participants receive a $100,000 investment and mentorship from leaders at Northwestern Mutual and gener8tor.

CrossKudi, led by chief executive officer Bobola Odebiyi, offers a secure international money transfer platform for immigrants, which is powered by blockchain infrastructure. A Milwaukee-based Delaware C-Corp., CrossKudi has conducted beta testing and established product market fit, according to Northwestern Mutual’s announcement.

The four other startups in the second cohort include Chicago-based 4Degrees, led by CEO Ablorde Ashigbi; Washington, D.C.-based Mark Labs Inc., led by CEO Kevin Barrow; Indianapolis-based Qualifi, led by co-founder Devyn Mikell; and Washington, D.C.-based Wellthi, led by CEO Fonta Gilliam.

“We’re honored to be working alongside this talented group of founders and continue the positive momentum we’ve achieved through this innovative program,” said Craig Schedler, managing director of Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures. “The first group of founders to go through the accelerator continues to raise funds and drive their businesses forward, and we’re proud to continue our partnership with gener8tor to give more Black founders the opportunity to set their companies up for success.”

The NMBFA is designed to accelerate Black-founded startups in the areas of fintech, insurtech, digital health and data analytics.

Recently, NMBFA alumnus Tip a ScRxipt received a lead $400,000 investment from Milwaukee-based venture capital firm Gateway Capital Partners. The fintech startup helps intermediaries like health care providers and pharmaceutical companies deploy payment assistance programs.

In addition to Tip a ScRxipt, the inaugural cohort included SoLo Funds, Freeman Capital, RiftPay and HUED, which recently raised $1.6 million from investors including Female Founders Fund and Serena Williams’ VC fund, Serena Ventures.

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Lauren Anderson is an associate editor and covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism.

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