An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Johnathan Celestin (founder and CEO) of myBalbo, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of myBalbo – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
myBalbo started in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic and during much social unrest in our nation. My siblings and I became inspired by all the untapped energy we were witnessing and wanted to create a space to harness that energy. So we started engaging our communities and others, and we quickly found similar grievances. First, the toxicity of online political discourse across the board. Second, the ubiquitous feeling of being unheard and unacknowledged. myBalbo was born from the idea that with the proper tools, resources and communities, change happens.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
myBalbo is a truly novel idea in that our business models are founded on a principle of capitalizing on unity and harmony, whereas most major online and television platforms exploit fear, white noise, and division. With that said, after bootstrapping the nascent stage of our company, we were on a mission to find a group of angel investors who believed in the potential of our country to rise above the fray. After much hard work and with the help of industry insiders, we are honored to have cultivated a cohort of investors who believe in our vision and the potential of our nation.
What does the future hold for myBalbo?
At myBalbo, we streamline all your elected officials into one location. Recently, we added city-level officials, which opens the door to so many possibilities. Around our nation, there are countless well-meaning, local politicians that are unable to get their voices heard on mainstream media. myBalbo now allows all politicians, regardless of notoriety, the ability to reach their constituents, leveling the playing field and transfiguring politics as we know it for the better.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Norfolk?
When myBalbo started to get legs, we had to make the critical decision of where to headquarter our company and team. My cofounders (who are my siblings) and I are originally from the area of Norfolk, and we found it essential to bring our important work back to the city that raised us. As you know, tech is often sequestered to specific cities but, at every level of myBalbo, we are deeply committed to democratizing resources and access. Accordingly, we wanted our birth city to see that trailblazing culture, tech, and politics are all possible without having to migrate.
It is not to say that headquartering in Norfolk is without its growing pains, as we are the only venture of our kind in the surrounding area. Consequently, finding stakeholders involved in buttressing our industry can be difficult. Nonetheless, we are committed to building community here, sowing back into our city, and lighting a path forward for the city of Norfolk.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Work hard, fail fast, and actively listen. Create a praxis of listening without judgment. Most importantly, the path forward may not always be pleasant or foreseen. Matter of fact, it will most likely be a series of ups and downs. Make sure, especially if you’re a solopreneur, to ensure the health of your body and mind throughout it all. Whoever’s reading this, I hope you stay encouraged and know that your work is special but that your worth, irrespective of your company’s trajectory, is unwavering and unbroken.