Mindblown Labs, African-American Tech Start-up

Team members of Mindblown Labs, from left to right: Kilimanjaro Robbs, Trevin York, Keegan Stone, Cherise Wilson, Tracy Moore II, and Jason Young.

Mindblown Labs, a new education technology start-up, has launched an online Kickstarter campaign to raise at least $60,000 to launch a new mobile game, Mindblown Life. Mindblown Life is a mobile social game that combines life-simulation elements and edgy humor to help young adults develop money management and financial literacy skills. Mindblown Life puts players at the heart of the game. They create a customizable avatar, choose their career, and perform reflex-based mini-games at work to earn “Money,” “Skill,” and “Reputation” points. They socialize and collaborate with real life friends (e.g., play the mini-games together, attend their concerts, or, if having a rough month, crash on their couches, etc.). In this fun and inviting context, they learn about everything from credit card debt and credit score management to budgeting and saving. Mindblown Labs believes this project is especially valuable to the African-American community. Surveys indicate that many African-Americans lack personal money management skills and do not understand how to leverage financial tools to accumulate wealth. For example, African-Americans have a greater incidence of home foreclosures and debt delinquencies than other ethnic groups and are more likely to fall victim to high-cost financial services, due to predatory lenders. Financial literacy doesn’t eliminate all of the barriers, including discrimination, that exist. Nevertheless, understanding fundamental money management concepts will help Black people understand how to effectively leverage their financial resources and not be taken advantage of. This knowledge is crucial if African-Americans are to close the wealth gap. Jason Young, Founder and CEO of Mindblown Labs, knows only too well how financial illiteracy can impact an entire family. During his sophomore year of college, on the day after Christmas, he and his family were evicted from their home. After graduating with an A.B. in Economics from Harvard and working on Wall Street as a senior specialist for Merill Lynch, he ended up in San Francisco as an early employee for Wikinvest. During his time at Wikinvest, he realized that a lot of people, regardless of their education level or socioeconomic class, were clueless about personal finance and budgeting. “Millions of students are leaving high school and college without gaining a basic level of financial literacy. Mindblown Life enables us to reach people where they are,” Young said. The Kickstarter campaign runs from Oct. 2 – Nov. 1. To contribute, visit www.mindblownlabs.com/ks. For more information, visit www.mindblownlabs.com, www.hiddengeniusproject.org or call 510-863-4254.
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