Founder Spotlight: Reuben Nehikhare

Foundervine
3 min readApr 5, 2023

Reuben Nehikhare is an entrepreneur who previously worked in tech at Palantir and Bloomberg, where he focused on strategic growth and value-creation initiatives. He specialises in designing and executing go-to-market strategies for data-driven organisations. In his spare time he enjoys building community through a social network called The Parlor, a close-knit community of entrepreneurs, here he curates spaces for building valuable relationships. He is the self-proclaimed true “Minister of Enjoyment”.

Reuben Nehikhare, Founder of The Jaiye

Reuben, tell us about The Jaiye and what motivated you to startup?

It started by complete accident, firstly I wanted to support a black-owned bar reopening post-lockdown, called Trailer Happiness. The bar, Trailer Happiness, managed to survive the pandemic, but was later forced to close due to a flood which caused severe damage. To make matters worse the owner, Sly Augustin was expecting his first child and the pressure was rising.

I hosted his birthday at the bar last October during Black History Month. Over 150 people were in attendance resulting in one of the highest revenue-generating days of the year and, on that same evening both The Jaiye and Sly’s first child were born.

As we developed we began to partner with emerging black-owned brands such as Vusa Vodka, Mama Dolce and Jendaya, to help connect emerging brands to the black-owned hospitality business. Coming from a corporate background, I was soon asked to speak during black history month at the likes of Google and Trading Hub, which has led to interesting conversations on supply chain diversity.

The penny then dropped that by connecting emerging brands to leading corporate institutions provided a huge growth opportunity and this is how Jaiye was born. Scott (my co-founder) and I joined the Antler Accelerator Programme where we have built a team to develop a platform to connect amazing brands to workplaces around the world.

Congrats Reuben on finding a co-founder at Wray and Nephew networking event with Juici Jerk! How are you both feeling about this new development?

This is a pivotal development, it is true that no man is an island and a problem shared is truly a problem halved. We learnt at Antler that founder synergy and founder-market-fit are essential to the success of a venture. Scott and I both went to the University of Leeds, so we have known each other for some time and shared interests. Our personalities and skills complement each other very well and my last cliché phrase is the whole is greater than the sum of the parts (can you tell I work in sales ha). But seriously, we are both obsessed with personal development and we’re excited at the prospect of solving mission drive projects in the community utilising technology.

What kind of support or resources do you need to continue to grow your business?

Firstly, we focused on building our executive network and knowledge, as we believe it is equally if not more important than funding. At this moment we don’t require VC funding to build our prototype but perhaps grant funding or sponsor for an MVP. We are focused on product development and data analytics resources to create an amazing user experience that keeps people engaged.

What are some of the important milestones and recognitions in your journey so far?

  1. We won The Rising Star in Hospitality Award by BeInclusive Hospitality
  2. We were selected for Antler VC accelerator
  3. We have hosted 10 focus group events via The Jaiye members club
  4. We have a partnership event with Soho House in April

Definitely, entrepreneurial communities can be such powerful support networks — do you have any asks or gives to the vine community?

Please can you send us across any black own brands in the food and beverages industry, as well as black-owned bars and restaurants that you love.

Any final words of wisdom for our Vine Community?

Just keep on pounding and play the long game. Be generous with your constructive feedback, network and time. Entrepreneurship is a team sport and we are happy to have you on board in any way shape or form.

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