Aniyia Willams

Aniyia Williams, alumna entrepreneur, to speak at Berks

Tinsel founder started the Black & Brown Conference to help entrepreneurs of color

Aniyia Williams, former student of Penn State Berks and University Park and a 2007 Penn State Schreyer Honors College graduate, is the founder of Tinsel, a tech jewelry startup based in Silicon Valley. Her road to success was not always smooth and she hopes to spread words of encouragement to student entrepreneurs of color when she visits Penn State Berks on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 12:15 p.m. in room 121, Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building.

Williams ran into quite a few roadblocks when starting Tinsel. As a result of her struggles, she went on to found the Black & Brown Founders Project, a nonprofit organization that “provides Black and Latinx founders with resources and community to build successful companies without relying on venture capital.”

In a recent interview with Fabiola Cineas of Philadelphia magazine, Williams explained, “People of color are being underfunded, women are being underfunded, and black women are being extremely underfunded.”

In the article, Williams explains that when she was launching Tinsel, she got a wake-up call about the funding disparity. “After pitching over 100 investors, the dollars weren’t coming and the checks weren’t being cut,” she said. Williams eventually landed investments, but it became clear the process was different because she was a woman and founder of color.

According to the Black and Brown Project website, “The current model for building startups was not designed with founders of color in mind. Black & Brown Founders aims to empower Black and Latinx entrepreneurs by providing resources and community to launch and scale tech companies.”

“Less than 1% of venture funding goes to Black and Latinx founders. Yet we are the driving force behind small business creation in America.”

The mission of the Black & Brown Founders Project is twofold: Give Black and Latinx founders the knowledge, tools and cutting-edge tactics to build successful companies without relying on venture capital; and build a community of Black and Latinx founders to network and share resources with each other.”

A group of Penn State Berks students, along with students from other campuses, attended the two-day conference on October 9 and 10, at the University City Science Center in Philadelphia.

For more information about Williams’ company, Tinsel, visit