Ali Diallo (“Tonton Ali”) is a Senegalese-American entrepreneur, author, futurist, inventor and venture builder who focuses on global 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+ Ventures, a global venture network of investors, technology leaders and international companies that contribute to the advancement of inclusive economies and of the venture studio model by leveraging elements of the Paypal Mafia model. He heads the global programs of the MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship in Boston where he builds pathways between MIT and emerging markets. He is the founding Innovation Coordinator of the MIT-Africa Initiative and serves as the 2018 Africa partner of the $1 Million MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge through his role at the MIT Legatum Center. He also serves as a member of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council and as a thought leader on financial inclusion and inclusive innovation.
Diallo manages and oversees 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 which is a cross-continent tour that brings together members of MIT’s leadership community and Africa-focused stakeholders such as entrepreneurs, investors, governments, alumni and corporates. The Open Mic Africa tour includes 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 produces the MIT Legatum Leadership Forum, a week-long entrepreneurship boot camp that hosts global entrepreneurs at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Prior to joining MIT, Diallo was a resident of Dubai and a member of Channel VAS, the world’s largest fintech and venture-building group 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.
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. Through this group, he co-founded multiple companies operating in the financial technology, remittance, adtech, telecom VAS, mobile, and publishing sectors. He also founded Quantum X, an innovation lab that explores contrarian innovations and unconventional models for startups.
As a former media and marketing executive, Diallo has supported a significant number of global companies and built multi-million dollar marketing and advertising campaigns for Fortune 500 companies. He is the former head of advertising operations of Gannett (which owns USA Today) in the Midwest where he led an adtech partnership with Yahoo!, and the former Vice President of Operations of Quake Marketing, a leading media and advertising technology group with offices in Manhattan and Las Vegas. Under his leadership, Quake Marketing’s advertising network reached over 150 million American consumers.
Diallo’s work helped define the Venture Builder and Startup Studio models and he has been featured on MIT News, Yahoo News, Bloomberg News, San Francisco’s VentureBeat, Dubai’s Khaleej Times, International Business Times, Virtual Strategy, VentureBurn, TechMoran and Disrupt Africa.
Over the last decade, Diallo has founded a global publishing group that promotes human rights and cultural diversity, an American record label and an international seed fund that focuses on technology, media and telecom services in emerging markets. In 2014, he co-founded Mobility Technologies (Mobility), a global technology company focused on remittance and mobile financial services, and Galaxy Mobile, a smartphone distribution company.
As an advocate of contrarian entrepreneurship, Diallo launched United+ Ventures, an investment initiative that aims to create a new framework for startups, entrepreneurs, angel investors and venture capitalists using a venture studio approach and characteristics of the Paypal Mafia model. Today, the United+ network spans 10 countries and include 30 advisors, 20 venture partners and over 20 active international ventures. The network leverages a proprietary venture studio model called NICE which Diallo developed to support global venture builders.
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 contributions include a marketing analytics calculator, a Boolean forecasting method, a mobile search communication protocol, a venture deployment model, a management process, a business intelligence platform, a mobile remittance 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 and Democratizing The Publishing Industry: Introducing A New Business Model for Authors and Publishers.
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.