Ali Diallo (“Tonton Ali”) is an award-winning Senegalese-American entrepreneur, author, futurist, inventor and venture builder who focuses on impact entrepreneurship, frontier markets, venture capital, thought leadership and inclusive innovation in the TMT sector (Technology, Media, and Telecom). He is a founding partner at United+ (also known as United Ventures), a global venture-building consortium that creates and scales impact-focused companies and initiatives by leveraging a proprietary venture studio model he invented and Silicon Valley’s Paypal Mafia model.
Diallo co-founded multiple portfolio companies under the United+ umbrella including United Labs, a Manhattan-based AI and data science venture studio with 30 employees who are located in the US, India and Africa; United VAS, a provider of Value Added Services for telecom operators; United eSports, a gaming studio for emerging markets; Infiniti Financial Services, a provider of fintech solutions that supports financial inclusion in Africa; and United Health Solutions, a Montreal-based health-tech startup that aims to prevent malaria and diabetes using AI and Big Data. He also founded Global One Records, a record label of world music and United Press of America, an award-winning publishing group that promotes human rights and cultural diversity,
Diallo’s expertise centers on impact entrepreneurship, inclusive & contrarian innovation, marketing, media & advertising technology (AdTech), financial technology (Fintech) and telecom VAS (Value Added Services such as mobile financial services, entertainment and gaming). He serves as an Advisory Council Member of the Harvard Business Review, a Global Panel Member of the MIT Technology Review and a thought leader on financial inclusion and inclusive innovation. As a media and marketing executive, Diallo has supported over 50 global companies and built multi-million dollar marketing and advertising campaigns for Fortune 500 companies.
Diallo’s work helped define the Venture Builder and Startup Studio models in the US. He has been featured on MIT News, Yahoo News, Bloomberg News, Silicon Valley’s VentureBeat, Dubai’s Khaleej Times, International Business Times, Virtual Strategy, VentureBurn, TechMoran and Disrupt Africa. He is an MIT advisor and mentor for emerging markets, having supported the missions of the MIT Sloan School of Management and the MIT Innovation Initiative. He is also an Africa Partner and Judge of the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge, an initiative of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy that awards $1.6 million to startups and organizations addressing the future of work; a judge of the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge and the MIT Hacking Medecine Hackathon; a former mentor of the MIT REAP and MIT EMBA programs;, and the former Global Programs Manager of the MIT Legatum Center, MIT’s hub for entrepreneurship in frontier markets. He is the recipient of over ten American awards, including the Intercon Top 50 Tech Visionaries Award, and he became a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow in 2019.
Impact & Investment Initiatives
Through United+, Diallo and his partners launched Impact@United, a unified and multisectoral impact initiative that addresses global sustainability challenges in Africa by creating synergies and shared opportunities for mission-driven organizations in various sectors such as impact investment, technology, infrastructure, education, renewable energy, financial services, telecom, communication & media and healthcare. Impact@United is contributing to the creation of inclusive and knowledge economies and to the advancement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through global connectivity, impact analytics, venture building and network economics.
Impact@United facilitates multiple large-scale impact projects, innovation-driven startups and programmatic activities that are launched, operated and scaled by the initiative’s participating organizations in a structured and coordinated way. These projects all benefit from United+’ venture-building framework (N.I.C.E.) which is based on optimal resource distribution, partnerships, knowledge sharing, and network effect.
Today, the Impact@United initiative reaches all layers of Africa’s society, from banking, construction and technology to education, energy and real estate, with more than 20 participating international organizations, including two public companies, two mobile money operators, two universities, two financial and academic institutions and over 50 global leaders with expertise from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, MIT, Harvard, Accenture, PwC, Western Union, Etisalat, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the UN, the U.S. Government and the Kingdom of Jordan.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Boston)
Diallo headed the global programs of the MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship in Boston where he built pathways between MIT and emerging markets. He is the founding Innovation Coordinator of the MIT-Africa Initiative and served as the 2018 Africa partner of the $1 Million MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge through his role at the MIT Legatum Center.
Diallo managed and oversaw the MIT Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion– MIT’s flagship competition for African entrepreneurs. He conceptualized and launched MIT’s Open Mic Africa, a cross-continent tour that brought together members of MIT’s leadership community and Africa-focused stakeholders such as entrepreneurs, investors, governments, alumni and corporates. The Open Mic Africa tour included several international events such as Open Mic Dakar (Senegal), Open Mic Nairobi (Kenya), Open Mic Lagos (Nigeria), Open Mic Diaspora (France) and the Open Mic Africa Summit, MIT’s annual tech conference on the African continent. In 2018, Open Mic Africa connected over 1,000 frontier entrepreneurs to MIT. Diallo also produced the MIT Legatum Leadership Forum, a week-long entrepreneurship boot camp that hosted global entrepreneurs at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Channel VAS (Dubai)
Prior to joining MIT, Diallo was a resident of Dubai and a member of Channel VAS, the world’s largest fintech provider of microcredit solutions and telecom value added services with over $3 billion in aggregate revenue and a presence in 34 countries. At Channel VAS, which Telecom investor and entrepreneur Bassim Haidar founded, Diallo headed and oversaw the global startup operations of AdVoice, Channel VAS’ newest company and the world’s largest telecom advertising group with an active presence in several frontier markets including Nigeria and India. AdVoice was featured on CNN in 2015 as part of a TV segment called Creating Opportunities From Shortcomings.
MIT Ventures (Senegal)
In 2014, Diallo founded Media Investment Tech Ventures, Francophone Africa’s first investment platform with a venture-building approach that incubated and launched transformative companies using a proprietary venture model in Senegal. Through this group, he co-founded three companies and exited a fintech startup to a Canadian group. He also founded Quantum X, an innovation lab that explores contrarian innovations and unconventional models for startups.
Quake Marketing (Las Vegas, Miami and Manhattan)
Diallo served as the Vice President of Operations of Quake Marketing, a leading media and advertising technology group with offices in Miami, Manhattan and Las Vegas that services Fortune 500 companies. Under his leadership, Quake Marketing’s advertising network reached over 150 million American consumers and provided marketing campaign services and solutions to leading companies such as Walmat, Chevron, Ford Motors, Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola.
Gannett/USA Today (Detroit)
Diallo started his markting and advertising career as the Head of Advertising Operations of Gannett in the Midwest. A publicly traded media holding company and the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, Gannett owns USA Today and the Detroit Free Press for which Diallo oversaw the digital advertising and media operations.
Research & Inventions
Diallo’s inventions, research journals, and articles span various industries from technology, engineering and business management to modern science, wellness, arts and poetry. His inventions include a marketing analytics calculator, a mobile advertising software, two eSports platforms, a Boolean forecasting method, a venture deployment model called N.I.C.E. (Network, IP, Capital, Execution), a mobile remittance and payment solution for the unbanked, an ergonomic back massager concept and a system that enables mobile users to build wealth through their mobile connections. In 2013, he conceptualized a new publishing business model that was successfully deployed in Senegal.
Diallo has written books on entrepreneurship, humor, Persian poetry, Afrofuturism, urban fiction and quantum physics and has conducted research on the works of Socrates, Da Vinci, Einstein, and Rumi. He is the author of the upcoming book The Blueprint: A Framework for Venture Builders, and the author of the essays How Venture Builders Are Changing the Startup Model; Mind And Hand: MIT And The Pursuit Of African Entrepreneurship; and Democratizing The Publishing Industry: Introducing A New Business Model for Authors and Publishers. He is a contributor at VentureBeat, Silicon Valley’s leading tech publication.
Academics and Leisure
Diallo is a graduate of Montgomery College and the University of Maryland where he studied Business Administration, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, Quantum Physics, Information Management, Project Management, Visual Arts, Literature, and Economics. He plays tennis, soccer, and basketball and is a former Karate student.