Seattle entrepreneur who found success on Elevator Pitch wins $50K at National Black MBA Conference

Kwame Boler during his GeekWire Elevator Pitch at the Space Needle in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Kwame Boler is still cleaning up when it comes to pitching his startup.

Boler, the founder and CEO of NEU, has taken home a grand prize of $50,000 from the National Black MBA Association Scale-Up Pitch Competition. The win follows Boler’s success in GeekWire’s new Elevator Pitch series in which he went up against other entrepreneurs, touting his business during a 42-second ride to the top of Seattle’s Space Needle.

Boler’s business is a marketplace connecting Airbnb hosts with hotel-grade cleaners. At the GeekWire Summit earlier this month, Boler pitched to judges again, along with several other finalists from the series. He took third prize, but also won the Geek’s Choice award as the crowd favorite.

The Scale-Up competition featured founders who are black or of African descent, and took part at a conference in Detroit at the end of September. Boler bested 10 semifinalists and three finalists.

“A friend who was a National Black MBA member really pushed us to apply last year and then we were skeptical [this year]. But we’re happy that we did it,” Boler said in a story on Black Enterprise. “This is awesome!”

In that same story, the young entrepreneur shared his advice for founders of color and first-time founders.

“You’re going to have to work two to three times as hard to prove and validate that you’re credible,” he said. “There’s a growing mantra that’s quite prevalent within this industry, which is that if you ask for money, you’ll get advice. And if you ask for advice, you’ll get money. So be sure to do the latter.”

Get more startup advice from Boler in this GeekWire podcast in which he joined fellow entrepreneur Cassie Wallender of Invio.

And watch Boler’s GeekWire Elevator Pitch from earlier this year in the video below: