UpZones #19: Entrepreneurs! feat. Arif Gursel & Matthew Holmes

Episode 19: Tech veteran, local entrepreneur and founder and executive director of the Pan-African Center for Empowerment (PACE) Arif Gursel stops by and holds forth on how “entrepreneurship” is just a fancy word for “hustle,” recounting how he learned that as a young boy in a snowstorm.  He and Ian connect on the need for black and POC spaces in innovation and tech just like other areas because structural biases don’t magically disappear when there’s profit at stake.  Ian is then joined by CoBuy founder Matthew Holmes, a former financier who’s new startup is devoted to allowing groups of unrelated or unmarried people take part in home-ownership, even in an accelerating Seattle market.  Both founders left words of wisdom and calls for listeners to engage in their projects.


Arif Gursel

Despite his stratospheric professional success, Vibeheavy founder (and longtime Microsoft and Heroku vet) Arif Gursel can feel isolated as a black man in the “who-you-know” world of the tech industry.  So the former Brooklynite and longtime Seattleite founded and directs PACE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to leveraging STEAM (science, tech, engineering, arts, & media) to guide potential businesses in communities of color to embrace science, technology and creative arts, promote empowering imagery of said communities via media production distributed through social media and web platforms managed by people of color, and to expose and prepare high-potential black individuals for new careers in technology companies, whether in technical or non-technical roles.  PACE  opens its Seattle office on June 19, in honor of Juneteenth.


Matt Holmes

CoBuy founder Matthew Holmes knows the Great Recession recovery has been tepid at best; real wages are lower than 15 years ago yet property prices have skyrocketed, and over 50% of American renters are cost-burdened. Homeownership is an increasingly distant notion for many Americans.  A former Director and VP at RBS, Santander, and UniCredit, Matt had the idea for CoBuy when attempting co-purchase a home with his mother and stepfather, and found the process taxing, inefficient and difficult to steer.  Matt and his mother founded CoBuy from its headquarters in Pioneer Square and have now expanded to serve all of Washington State.

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