RB: Tell us the story behind IllicitMind.
GAGM: In the past years I’ve dived deep into the innovation ecosystem by attending over 200 events, participating in over 60 social groups and reading over 50 books. During this time, I learned a tremendous amount about the disparities and opportunities within the innovation and entrepreneurship systems, as well as gathered a multitude of resources.
In 2015, I decided to launch Illicit Mind Inc with the goal of sharing these resources with others. Through hosting events, educating, and empowering individuals, we have cultivated safe, open, and creative spaces for diverse innovators to learn, grow and become successful. The programs we have are impacting the innovation ecosystem in ways that I would have never imagined.
RB: Why have you chose to focus on a knowledge building platform?
GAGM: Knowledge is the only true way to get out of proverty, to get access, to grow, and to evolve.
RB: In less than a year you joined 40 Meetup and Facebook groups, attended over 100 business/networking/tech events and read over 30 books. Was this intentional?
GAGM: This was not intentenional. I was just getting out there. It started with merely getting my feet wet and before I knew it I was head below water swimming. One door led to another and another. I am a very social and curious person so I just took the chances. It was and still is a whole lot of fun.
RB: What are some of the challenges you have faced since you started building your business?
GAGM: Some challenges major challenges were building my team and a sustainable business model. It was all fun and games when I began I wasnt worried about making money just making impact. But now with a solid team and a huge support system I see that I can make both impact and money, I mean a girl has got to eat right.
GAGM: At Illicit Mind we have 3 primary programs,
- CITE – Caribbeans in Technology and Entrepreneurship. A collective of Caribbeans that are embracing the innovation economy.
- Be-Tech – A series of hackathons that focus on the motto of “Built with, not for”. Where we encourage community members, hackers, business people and students to come together and create solutions to problems in their communities.
- Get Shit Done – An annual summit, Classes, and workshops that teaches innovation in a non-traditional educational method and setting.
RB: Why did you create CITE?
GAGM: I created CITE becasue I wanted to find other people who were Caribbean in Tech and Entreprneurship. I knew I couldnt have been the only one but I felt very alone while exploring the NYC tech scene. So this groups was made so that I can connect, engage, and learn with other Caribbean techies and entrepreneurs.
RB: Innovation means different things depending on who you ask. How do you define it in your platform?
GAGM: Innovation to us means to create. Innovators are simply creators using 21st century tools and inventions to create for the present and the future.
RB: What words of encouragement do you have for other women who may be interested in creating a platform which fosters innovation.
GAGM: Word of encouragement would be to have fun. Life is short and things ALWAYS work themselves out. If you put happiness and positivity out there it will come back. It may not come back instantly and you may get slightly frustrated but it will work out. Keep calm, hustle on.