Name/Age: Brian Gerrard – 26 / Jordan Kunzika – 20 / Justin Gerrard – 28
Profession: Co-Founders of Bae (Before Anyone Else)
I have contributed to my industry by: creating a platform through Bae by which people of color can find and cultivate meaningful relationships.
The world is big, diverse, and complex but also extremely connected. Our likes, dislikes, preferences and tastes are communicated out everyday as we continue to use social media to reveal who we are. As we continue to share and connect there is still that one elusive link that evades so many. Love. BAE (Before Anyone Else) Co-Founders Brian and Justin Gerrard, and Jordan Kunzika have created a app to find their Bae. In its first month the mobile app received more than 17,000 downloads, easily outpacing Tinder in its early days.
Through a curated list of users looking for someone just like you, Bae helps you to meet cool new people, and cut through the clutter of online dating. ” The best way to break through the static and make an impact is for you to invest in “you”, the Bae team tells BE Modern Man. “With Bae it started by us just getting on a phone call and deciding that we could make our idea come to fruition.”
Young and ambitious, the Bae team is not forcing themselves into professional careers that will not fulfill their personal passion. They have found out early on that a big paycheck does not always line up with purpose. “It may seem cliché, but the best advice for a successful career is to do what you love. Especially for young people, there are strong pressures to enter professions that provide the greatest monetary rewards, but not the most fulfilling personal rewards. The catch is that if you are not in a position that you value, you will never operate at your full potential.” Despite having to bootstrap the mobile app Bae, the love of working on startups has been an enriching and exhilarating professional journey for the team.
Although the team is enjoying the journey they realize the uphill climb they have as young Black men in the tech startup world. Less than 1% of VC backed startups have Black founders, and less than 1% of founders who receive funding are part of all-Black founding teams. “We are uniquely positioned to highlight the challenges faced by founders of color in tech, but also use Bae as a success story to encourage other teams that look like ours to pursue their ideas,” the Bae team tells BE Modern Man. “Thus far, the most fulfilling aspect of our nascent success has been an opportunity to provide a catalyst for change in the industry, and leverage our experience to mentor teams of similar compositions.”
With the mobile app marketplace full of options, the Bae team looks to grow on one accord to break through all of the static while providing a new lens for mainstream media to look through. “The Black community is heterogeneous, and populated with individuals of unique skill-sets, interests, and talents, but in the context of popular American media, many of these stories go untold.” What typically remains are stories that play into sensationalist attitude towards communities of color where narratives revolve around negative stereotypes. “With Bae, we see our narrative as means of challenging these stereotypes to provide a more multifaceted lens into the lives and professions of individuals inside of our communities,” the Bae teams tells BE Modern Man exclusively. The team finds it extremely important that men of color like themselves are represented in the app development space because of the need to break down the cultural mindset of what an app developer looks like, a process recently boosted by the #iLookLikeAnEngineer campaign.
The Gerrard brothers and Kunzika recognize the role that they play in the tech startup and mobile application world. The the team A BE Modern Man is someone who understands the importance of community. “The opportunity to build this business has made us more stalwart in our belief that the path to economic enfranchisement for our community is by making a meaningful commitment to supporting businesses with founders of color,” the Bae team tells BE Modern Man. “It is our hope that as Bae continues to grow, we will have more opportunities to help build others up in the areas of app development and tech entrepreneurship.”
The BlackEnterprise.com team salutes these three young, driven and ambitious app developers and tech entrepreneurs as they build build grow and develop both personally and professionally. Already breaking barriers, we look forward to seeing the growth of their app Bae, and this team of young developers.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow and join the BE Modern Man conversation at #BEModernMan and @blackenterpris