Dr. Umeke Daniel
Dr. Umeke Daniel Credit: Dr. Umeke Daniel

Step into the world of innovation and collaboration with Dr. Ukeme Daniel, the visionary founder and CEO of The Beta Collective, a community that incubates ideas for solving grand challenges in African communities globally and enabling collaboration.

Credit: Beta Collective

As a medical doctor with a passion for solving grand challenges in African communities, Daniel has dedicated her career to population research and innovation design. Her extensive experience includes working with prestigious organizations such as the Clinton Global Initiative and the World Health Organization.

Daniel is not only an advocate for the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, but also a trusted consultant for early-stage startups in emerging markets. Over the past 5+ years, she has hosted enlightening panels and roundtables in various cities, championing the cause of emerging entrepreneurs and paving the way for positive change in African communities.

Exciting news is on the horizon as The Beta Collective proudly announces the African Startup Symposium, “Co-Creating the Future,” in collaboration with The Ion. Set to take place on Tuesday, June 20, 2023, this symposium marks a significant milestone in fostering cross-border collaboration between Houston, Texas and African communities worldwide. By driving innovation, investment and economic growth, the event aims to bring together local startup ecosystems and ignite a wave of transformative change.

Entrepreneurs, investors and community leaders will gather at the symposium to explore vast collaboration opportunities and learn from experts within the African startup ecosystem. With increasing interest in African markets and growing recognition of the continent’s immense potential, this event is poised to make a profound impact on Houston’s local startup ecosystem.

The Defender spoke with Daniel about The Beta Collective and their upcoming event.

Defender: You practiced medicine but transitioned to entrepreneurship. Why?

Dr. Ukeme Daniel: I’ve always felt like an entrepreneur, ever since I was kid. Even when I was going into medicine, I always knew that I wasn’t going to be a primary care doctor. I knew I was going to be more of a digital health person. I’m a self-taught web developer. I won my first hackathon in 2014 in medical school. I worked with a team to build a fintech app in 72 hours. I’m a problem-solver. The current phase I’m in allows me to continue practicing health in some way. People expect you to use medicine in a traditional way. I think my training gave me a lot of critical thinking skills that I’m using in other areas outside of medicine.

Defender: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind founding The Beta Collective?

Daniel: In 2017, I was burnt out and tired. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have anything to do with medicine at that point. I had the opportunity to go back to my home country, and lived there for the first time as an adult. I did that for a year and a half. I somehow got pulled into the startup space, used my skills there, and got immersed in that ecosystem. I saw a lot of problems up close. To me, it was almost magical because there was a general lack of resources, like trying to build here in America versus building here in places like Nigeria are very different. In my mind, I asked how do I harness resources from places that have a lot more to help scale some of these startups. That was the idea behind The Beta Collective. It started as a business last year. Before the pandemic, it started off as a panel discussion talking about different ways we can bring different markets to help collaborate and scale these African startups.

Defender: What specific benefits and opportunities does The Beta Collective provide to African entrepreneurs and businesses in the diaspora?

Daniel: Building a business is really hard, and it takes many years before you get either revenue or start succeeding and all of that. We’re saying part of the problem is being connected to the right resources so we can shorten the time to revenue. We shorten that by providing the right resources. We have some partnerships providing core resources that simplify the process of building a company depending on what the industry is, the costs, and time revenue, or your first customer. Another challenge is educating my potential users. For example, if we are talking to a venture capital firm, they’re saying maybe they have a certain idea of what Africa is or something they heard on the news. There is a lot of learning on the go. If you are an early stage.

Defender: What are your future plans and goals for The Beta Collective, and how do you see it further benefiting Africans in the diaspora in the coming years?

Daniel: Our goal is to increase the number of successful African businesses, no matter if it’s five or 10 years. We hope that we will expand out of the broad community model to go into a more accelerator model, to build companies that can actually be funded. We build strong relationships over time so that their business can tap into the resources when it’s time to raise funds, or when they’ve figured out a prototype. And because they are in The Beta Collective accelerator, they don’t have to worry about these things.

Defender: Talk about your upcoming event.

Daniel: The event is called “Co-Creating the Future.” It’s happening on June 20. The point of this event is to find ways to collaborate between our different startup ecosystems. How do we on a local basis create that collaboration that can help Houston businesses and simultaneously scale African startups? How many countries are looking for new partners? What are those Houston-based resources when we talk about harnessing US resources to scale more African startups? These are the intellectual discussions we will have. We will have a diverse panel along with a few startups that will be present. It will be hosted at the Ion and we are the first African-focused startup event doing this collaboration with the Ion.

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...