In our Summer 2021 Tulsa cohort for the Idea Accelerator, we were lucky enough to welcome Luka Mutinda as a Builder. Luka applied with an idea for tackling the problem of a lack of robust, local customer loyalty programs, especially for traditional Black business ecosystems.
Growing up, Luka was always fascinated by retro hardware. Think cash registers, rotary dial phones, typewriters, disc players, etc. He’s spent most of his career in the Point-of-Sale industry working to develop solutions for businesses and operators across the country, so he knows how important local businesses are in sustaining healthy cities and economies.
Luka wondered if we could harness the power of loyalty programs for black-owned businesses in Tulsa. Instead of each business having its own program, bring businesses together into one program.
In the Summer cohort, he partnered with another Builder, Shakori, to create Tulsa.community - a platform to support and share stories of local businesses. Through a QR code that can be scanned in Black business establishments and local cultural and historical sites to let a customer join a community-wide loyalty program. He knows that people want to support these local establishments and now they can have an easier way to do so with more incentives.
Although Luka had been building and testing the entrepreneurial waters before the Idea Accelerator program, the program really changed his thinking.
”For me the bigger impact was philosophical; this idea that centering and innovating around a defined problem (North Star) is better overall for future sales and product development.”
After the Summer program, Luka turned back to his African roots, an idea he had been working on previously and that inspired Tulsa.community. That idea became, DUKAPAQ - a QR-code based community rewards program for African merchants.
In April 2022, Luka applied to and was accepted into Tampa Bay Wave’s FinTech Accelerator program for 2022. The program includes 16 high-growth fintech startups from across the U.S. and abroad.
The Accelerator is a three-month tech business accelerator program. It offers companies access to key resources such as a dedicated accelerator managing director, mentoring with notable tech founders and fintech industry giants, sales training, pitch coaching and investor coaching, as well as introductions in an environment designed to support high-scale growth.
Companies in the program will also participate in Wave’s Demo Day at the conclusion of the program on June 29th to pitch their companies to an audience of accredited investors, venture capitalists and other fintech industry leaders.
The Accelerator program will also serve as a link between the region’s tech startup community and other fintech workforce development efforts. It is modeled on Tampa Bay Wave’s highly successful 2021 and 2022 CyberTech|X Accelerators.
We worked with Luka to prepare his application. and were thrilled that he was accepted into this top-of-class program.
“Luka is such a great example of why having an on-ramp to start with ideas is so critical to uncovering the most promising ideas,” shared Donna Harris.