December 14, 2016
Why This FinTech Founder Believes ‘Entrepreneurship Is the New Street Hustle’
The tagline for his life’s story reads: “From crack, to rap, to tech.â€ Divine is a hip-hop entertainer, turned tech entrepreneur. He is preparing to launch his startup’s first product–the BLAK card–a pre-paid debit card designed to help the under-banked or un-banked.
Divine sat down with Black Enterprise to talk about how he emerged from a 10-year prison sentence for dealing drugs, to befriending venture capitalist Ben Horowitz and founding his own financial tech startup.
“My company is BLAK Fintech. BLAK is an acronym that stands for Building Leverage; Acquiring Knowledge. We build affordable, tech-driven, personal financial and banking products,â€ Divine explains.
The BLAK card is the embodiment of Divine’s aspirations for economically empowering people in urban areas. He knows, firsthand, the needs of these communities, because, as he states, “I am that demographic.â€
Raised in Brooklyn by a former crack cocaine-addicted mother, he turned to the streets; surviving as a drug dealer. As a result, he spent 10 years in lockup, but while incarcerated, read an article that would change the course of his life.
“I came across an article about Ben Horowitz.â€ Horowitz is a venture capitalist and co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, one of the top and most influential investment firms in the country.
Divine was intrigued not only by Horowitz’s success, but by the venture capitalist’s love for hip-hop and rap; a music passion both of them share. After his release, Divine sought out Horowitz via social media, expressing how much he related to a blog post Horowitz wrote, Legend of the Blind MC.
One thing led to another, and Divine ended up not only friends with Horowitz, but also with his equally influential wife, Felicia.
“I always say, Ben opened the door for me, and Felicia ushered me in,â€ he says. “I was doing a Kickstarter at the time, to raise money for my album.â€ The Horowitzes helped Divine raise the funding ($7,000) for his music, and he dropped the album Ghetto Rhymin in 2014.