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Adetayo Adesanya, Founder and CEO, Agbara Life

As a tech category, wearables are continually innovating. But Agbara Life, based in Oakland, CA, is taking a new approach by creating fashionable wearables designed for young, working professionals on the go, while also giving back to local communities. “The passion behind Agbara Life was in designing apparel of all sorts to use technology as an increased utility for the consumer,” said Adetayo Adesanya, CEO of Agbara Life, who recently spoke with i3.

What inspired you to create wearable tech fashion?

Agbara Life CEO Adetayo Adesanya

The inspiration comes from my family. I’m a son of two Nigerian immigrants who came here when they were very young. I grew up around a large, extended family who cared about fashion and expressing ourselves. I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, to create something I would want to wear that’s a ordable and I could be proud of. My vision for Agbara Life is to marry the things I’m most passionate about: fashion, technology and social good. We are a wearable tech company built around a bene its corporation. This all stemmed from the community service work I’ve been doing focusing on the underprivileged, underrepresented, urban communities I identify with.

Could you talk about your products?

The idea behind Agbara Life is to use technology to enhance the lifestyle, not to be the focal point or the gimmick. Our products are tailored for a group of people always on the move — parents included. Users on the go can carry all their electronics in a luxe matte black bag that’s TSA checkpoint friendly. We’re also working on jackets with charging capability in between the pockets, so you can charge from one compartment to the other.

What challenges have you faced starting Agbara Life?

More than just a backpack, Agbara provides the highest utility with social impact.

I’m a young professional who’s been trying to do my own thing for quite some time and I’m still not there. Time management is a huge challenge for any entrepreneur with all the late nights and early mornings trying to deal with manufacturing companies, launching the website, marketing plans and even creating the business plan. Questions arise: Who are we going to sell to? How are we going to sell this to them? Ninety percent of startups fail because of improperly managed cash  low. I poured my own investments into the company, but access to capital is still a huge challenge as well.

How can the tech industry encourage diversity?

There are a lot of things tech companies can do. They just have to want to do them. If you think about it, not a lot of tech companies have metrics for their senior management and leadership to actively try and bring in diverse people. Until these companies start holding themselves accountable in encouraging diversity, it’s going to be difficult for us to bridge the gender and race gap within the tech industry. What I challenge my community to do is to build their own [businesses]. If I’m able to achieve my goals with what I’m doing, others will start to see that as an opportunity for them to do the same kind of thing.

What’s next for Agbara Life?

We’re still in growth mode, looking for solutions to a problem we’ve been seeing for a long time. We’d like to provide scholarships for young adults to come with us and experience the journey. We’re a startup, so right now we’re all over the place. But Agbara Life is still growing and I have so much more to do and create.

Sara Garvin